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Disconnecting

Disclaimer

I must put this disclaimer at the beginning of this post because I do not want the reader to believe that I have mastered this. I am not particularly good at disconnecting with electronics, but I am practicing every day to improve this. Every time I take a step towards disconnecting, I can feel the calm that introduces itself to my life. However, sometimes it is simply hypnotizing to stare at one’s phone or television – and I want the reader to understand that I know, firsthand, how this feels.

 

Baby Steps

I am not going to sit here and tell you how important social media has become in today’s society – because you already know. I am not going to tell you to not watch your favorite television shows at night after a stressful day at work in order to calm down – because you will immediately roll your eyes at me.

The meaning behind this post is to try and convince you to take baby steps in disconnecting with your electronics. Nearly every research topic that involves mindfulness has some sort of mention to disconnecting with these devices. After looking at all of this research, I immediately realized that I am a culprit of staring at my phone and allowing the day to pass before me. I would like to share some mindful tips that I have practiced (and continue to practice) that has proved to me that this is something that should be incorporated into your own life.

 

Notifications

I have a good amount of apps on my phone – nothing crazy, but not bare bones either. However, I have learned to turn off notifications as much as I can on the apps that aren’t dire for attention. Without getting too technical with how our phones work, I am able to turn off almost all notifications that force themselves onto my locked screen. In other words, I simply try to only have the red badge icon that shows in the corner of the app when I receive a text, email, Facebook message, etc. This way, my phone’s screen is not flooded with notifications from several different apps. I have noticed that this has brought some stillness into my electronic lifestyle and has allowed me to look at my phone a lot less.

 

Email

This was one of the more difficult practices for me – and I am still not 100% there quite yet. For the entirety of my adult working life, I have always had my work email on my phone. At first, I felt that if I was able to respond to customers/clients/colleagues after hours, they would respect me more and therefore, I would be successful someday. However, as I have tried to minimize the controllable stress in my life, I have learned that there is not too much of a difference between responding to an email at 11:59pm or 8:00am the next day at work. Perhaps a recipient here or there would greatly appreciate it, but from my perspective, the pros do not outweigh the cons.

Now, I understand that some jobs require you to always be connected to your work email. However, that is the outlier. For instance, take my former payroll position for the Gloucester Public Schools. When I started that job, I just figured it was obvious to have my work email on my phone because I wanted to be as helpful as possible to the employees. However, what I found is that it created more stress than I could handle. The reasoning behind this is, almost every email that I received was a question that could not be answered unless I was in the office with my payroll supplies/systems. So, if I received a payroll question at 7pm one night, I would unnecessarily stress about answering this person until the next day. What is the point of this stress? I cannot solve this problem until the next day, so why introduce this stress into my life now? I was losing sleep over a payroll question, and you know what? I almost guarantee that the person who asked the question was perfectly fine with receiving an answer the next day.

After realizing the stress I was handing to myself, I took my work email off of my phone (despite the fact that I still check it sometimes). I want to be the best employee, for the City of Gloucester that I can be, but if I am overworking myself, then I am not helping this city to the very best of my ability.

 

Additional Tips

  • At dinner, leave your phone in the other room in order to focus on eating, or talking to the person(s) next to you.
  • Before bed, put your phone on silent and do not look at an hour before falling asleep.
  • You have probably heard this one, but do not use your phone while driving. Think about it – when have you ever received a text, while driving, that needed an answer before you got to your location? Do not try to convince me otherwise.
  • When you wake up, try to not have your phone with texts/emails/Facebook notifications be the very first thing you look at before rolling out of bed.

I have never been a fan of being at a memorable event and having one’s first thought be to take out their phone in order to take a Snapchat, picture, Facebook post, etc. Look up from that phone every now and then and be in the moment. Technology is phenomenal in today’s world, but if you are addicted to your electronics, then you are avoiding a moment that you will never, ever get back.

 

Stay mindful.

2 Comments

  1. Michelle Michelle

    Right on Paul

  2. My own workplace demands [Sawyer Free Library] with a incessant ringing telephone the close to constant accompaniment of accessing information and attending to the requests of library patrons throughout the course of my workday as well as the additional connectednesses that bind me during the free Saturdays that is my own day off that I dedicate to advancing a “Sik’oneem kek’aslemaal, kib’ajniqal kixiin jujuun ojeer taq tinaamit”/”Rescate propatromonio historico” [historical recovery project] destined for Guatemalan communities of my former Peace Corps work exposure where my eyes were opened to the abject deprivation of people’s understanding of their own local history as a consequence of lack of access to information. My own occupation research skills have enabled me to gain entry to the archival documentation available at the Archivo General de Centro America in Guatemala and Archivo General de Indias of Sevilla, Espan~a and subsequently transcribe the painstakingly difficult to decipher relevant colonial era manuscripts– many in 16th century script that date back almost to the decades after the 1524 conquest of Guatemala by Pedro de Alvarado– that I can make available to those they are destined for through the marvelous facility of e-mailed attachments… The application of this and the other “connectednesses” that stick to me could be a real spider web of entanglement through progressive addiction to them if I weren’t so aware and unwilling to exercise limits. In this regard I’m eminently grateful to the years of residence in the San Pedro la Laguna, my PC program’s town of initial placement and subsequently “home base” for my expanding crop diversification initiatives that were to expose successively me to a incredible diversity of communities and social hierarchy. During the nearly ten years that made up the 1970’s decade of acting on my own intuition, not only far removed from the war participation generated crisis that had set my own course in motion but equally remote from the conveniences that I had taken for granted as a indispensable part of life– the telephone, television, movies– I was forced to learn to readjust to a very different reality and pace of life when the capacity to sharpen one’s own senses, receptiveness to “inner promptings” reawakened dormant attentiveness to feelings, means of surmounting communication barriers that finding myself in a situation where the expected language of my training turned out to be antipathetic to the community from the very moment of my presentation to the municipal authorities that never to be forgotten March, 1970 afternoon of my arrival. Learning to be attentive to those around me, to really be aware of what was going on that that not actually involve me, to use my eyes, my hearing fully…People’s power of observation never ceased to impress me. Things that escaped my notice would always be called attention to, whether in the midst of a busy open-air weekly marketplace congested with shoppers and sellers or away in the countryside where a faint alternative shortcut footpath diverged from the well trodden main trail could so easily be overlooked… The attributes of these gifts earned in myself over time and repetion I have found really have had staying power to re-root themselves in my own native soil where remain to this day. So although I must put up with the impositions imposed through work obligation and away from work personal commitment compliance, I stay free to shape my shape my life as to what would dominate it within the comfort level where I myself set the boundaries.— Can you believe I have no telephone in any form and reject the proliferating electronic temptations that technology would apply? For the particular disconnectedness that is my current response to our present’s controlling connectedness, I thank you Guatemala for that particular gift and all that you are Paul through your person and your life story both of which so uniquely expand life’s confines and living it fully!

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