The Art of Unplugging

Personal

About a year and half ago I was carrying a jug of dialysate to a patient’s room (I used to be a dialysis technician), when the top popped off and acid went running all down the sides of the jug onto me and into my scrub pocket carrying my phone.

Now, it’s not super toxic to the skin but the charging port to my phone ended up corroding. This meant I could no longer charge it, so my phone eventually died. I ordered a new phone, but it was going to be about a week before I received it and so that meant I had to go 7 whole days without a phone *gasp*.

The first few days were hard. I had to use a regular old alarm clock (how archaic!), couldn’t listen to music at the gym, text friends, make phone calls, or fill my time with social media. But as the week went on, I started to notice little things.

For instance, when I walked to work, I actually looked at the sky. When I ate lunch, I had conversations with my coworkers. When I was on a work break or at home, I read a book. You might be thinking this isn’t profound, but when was the last time you had a conversation with a friend and didn’t check your phone for a notification or text?

When was the last time you went somewhere with your spouse and didn’t document and share it with the world, but just kept the memory between the two of you?

When was the last time you stood in line at the grocery store and actually just patiently waited? You didn’t pull out your phone to pass time, but talked with a fellow shopper or the cashier or were silent.

As the week went on, I started dreading the idea of having my phone back. I loved no longer be enslaved to every text, every notification, every single snippet of information constantly bombarding me. It was like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t have to ‘keep up’ with the world because I didn’t know what the world was doing. I was more content and grateful with my life because I had nothing to compare it to.

When the time came and my phone did finally arrive, I resolved to spend last time on it, but soon old habits creeped back in and next thing I knew I was always on it.

I’ve noticed I’m on my phone even more since starting my business, because I want to be engaged with my followers as well as know what others are up to. The funny thing is though, the more I’m on social media, the more unhappy I become. I become dissatisfied with my own work, the rate at which my business is growing, or why I’m not succeeding like someone else. Social media is only a highlight reel and yet we compare our lives to someone else’s documented successes. So, what’s the solution? Unplugging!

I recognize that social media is a valuable tool for my business, but it doesn’t need to be how I spend the majority of my time. So, I’ve decided to set limits.

these are my new Rules for Unplugging:

1. No phone after 6pm. Do you think that’s ridiculous? Now ask yourself, why do I think that’s so ridiculous? Is it because you’re not sure how you would spend your time at night? Is it because you’re afraid you’ll miss out? I can tell you right now, you are missing out on nothing, but by putting your phone away you are living. You’re having conversations with friends or family, reading a book, playing a board game, watching a movie, having a bonfire, or going for a walk. You’re making your own memories instead of looking at other people’s memories.

2. Social media only 20-30 minutes a day. According to my phone, I spent 6 hours and 36 minutes on Instagram and Facebook last week. 6 hours of my life spent looking at profiles of people I don’t even know! It makes me a little nauseas to think about. There really is nothing so fascinating happening that I need to be on social media that often. Everyday at 3pm I post to Instagram and Facebook, but I never had a limit on how often or for how long I could be on social media. But now I’m setting a limit: everyday from 2:45-3:15 pm I am allowed to log-in to social media, prepare my posts, update my feed, reply to comments or DMs, post to my stories, browse around, and then I must log-out until 3:15 pm the next day. I only have 30 minutes to ‘do what I need to do’ (which is plenty of time) and then I am logged out until 3:15 pm the next day, so I am able to enjoy my day notification- and social media-free. This will allow me to be more focused on other tasks and enjoy the world around me.

3. Be bored. We have been trained into thinking we must be entertained every moment of every day. We are incapable of standing in line, waiting for a friend, or eating a meal without also watching a video, reading the news, playing a game, texting a friend, or spending time on social media. I mean, people literally get anxious when they don’t have something to fill their time. But there is nothing wrong with doing nothing! Growing up I was bored all the time (in a good way) and I turned out just fine. It taught me patience, imaginative thinking, creativity, and the ability to focus on one task at a time without distraction. But I haven’t done nothing in a long time, so it’s time to get bored again. Next time I’m waiting for an appointment, I’m gonna sit there and look at the wall or browse one of those Home and Gardens magazines. Next time I’m in an insanely long grocery line, I’m going to stand there and read labels on the back of my food. Next time I’m folding laundry, I’m just going to let my mind wander instead of filling the silence with music or tv. We need to relearn that life isn’t always entertaining and that’s okay.

4. Find a hobby or get back into a hobby. Instead of spending time on your phone, get a hobby! Craft, build, bake… anything you enjoy that keeps you off your phone. Instead of numbing your brain to endless scrolling, reengage it with a new skill! Life is short, so go out and live it!

Unplugging from my phone is not going to be easy, and I recognize that. I have some bad habits to break and new ones to form, but I am confident that my life will be better for it. Do you want to unplug with me? Let me know in the comments and which rules you will be applying!

Nicole

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