Why is it So Hard to Disconnect

I may be telling my age a little, but when I was in high school, we were still using typewriters. If you were lucky you had a word processor so you didn’t have to mess with the white out and if you were REALLY lucky you had a computer with dial up internet. BUT, even then you had to choose between making phone calls and connecting to the internet. Today I heard that Google just turned 20–which for me was my last year of high school.

Growing up I had a pocket phone book with everyone’s addresses and phone numbers and I memorized the numbers of my 10 closest friends and other important numbers. My family had a gaming system, I got a gameboy for my birthday one year, and I had a cd walkman with skip protection and the fanny pack for listening to music on the go.

Let me stop there–I KNOW some of you are laughing and reminiscing and some of you have absolutely NO CLUE what i’m talking about…LOL. Bottom line is that back then we had gadgets that we played with in our free time and now we LITERALLY have a high tech mini computer in our pockets at all times.

I was sitting here wondering why it seems like there is less time in the day to get things done although there are so many tools and advanced technology that should allow us to get things done more quickly. In truth, if we are disciplined, we can, however there are so many distractions on our phones that suck up our free time and we don’t even realize.

How many times do you go on Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat per day? How long do you spend on each one? How many minutes/hours do you scroll through social media or browse the internet? How many of us pull our phones out when we are bored, or even just out and about waiting for something. I am definitely guilty of all of the above including jumping on my phone when I don’t necessarily want to engage with people in public. Especially in a store when I am waiting in line to check out.

Watch people panic when they are out and about and their phone is about to die. That same person may ask 20 strangers if they have a compatible charger they can borrow. Charging stations are popping up more and more in public venues and you will see huddled masses around a power plug, patiently waiting to juice up.

Beyond basic safety reasons for having a charged phone and being able to make emergency calls if needed, why is it so hard to disconnect from the phone nowadays? It’s so funny to me when I see memes asking if you would be able to live on a deserted paradise island for $xxxxx million dollars with only books and music but no wifi–and people say no they never could.

Why can’t we give up these devices? I work from my phone and I have found out first hand how easy it is to get sidetracked and distracted when “work” turns into social media check-ins, internet browsing (and shopping), reading random articles, and playing my favorite app games. Even turning my phone on airplane mode doesn’t quite do the trick.

I was working on work (for real) on my phone one day when I realized that it was about to die. I disconnected my watch from it and put it on the charger. I hopped on my laptop to finish some paperwork and began working on some tasks offline. I looked up and had spent a full hour of productivity. Not the usual hour of being busy but not maximizing my time. When I truly started noticing my non-productive work habits I was honestly ashamed of myself. I had to do better. I used to love to read and devour books but I “never had time” so I used that excuse to purchase audio books. But for me, I experience so much more joy by physically turning the pages, marking the book up and highlighting key passages. What about the other things I loved to do but didn’t do anymore? WHY is it so hard to disconnect? Why is the pull so tough to see how many likes we got on a post or keep up with whoever celebrity or whatever else we do on our phones. Why do we get so bend out of shape when our phones die? Why do we wake up in the middle of the night or stay up late and jump on social media and then complain about being tired the next day?

Try this–take notice of the amount of time you spend online. In your notes just make a little log. Next spend about a minute making a list of the things you enjoy doing and haven’t been able to do or want to do more of. Make the decision how important it is to do these other tasks or work on your passion project with more focus and less interruption. Make a plan to start cutting back, even if it is just 5-10 solid minutes a day to take some personal time with the phone/internet completely shut off. That will give you, at minimum an extra half hour to hour per week to accomplish other things, or just to be more present. Please reach out and let me know how this is for you.

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