September is for…

septSo this week I lost my phone for TWO WHOLE DAYS – ARGHH!

This is a pretty big deal for me. I searched high and low but it was nowhere to be found. So I left the house on the first day phoneless and it felt weird. My hands were empty, no phone calls, no texts. It’s like the world was carrying on but I was out of the loop. My hands were itching to type and check Twitter for the latest news. When I returned home, at the end of the day, I found that all was well and I hadn’t really missed a thing.

Day two began and I started to notice that this phonelessness was beginning to have an impact on me… usually when I go to a coffee shop I’m so engrossed in my phone, in social media, texting and emails that without realising it I can lose an hour (or three) of my life to a screen. But on this visit I read a book with no distractions and ended up having a long chat with a lady at my table. ‘Maybe having a phone glued to my hand has become a barrier to the world around me, maybe I’ve been missing things,’ I thought. Deep!

By the afternoon of day two I was sure my phonelessness was having a positive effect on me. I realised that I felt more productive and focused. I decided to paint my lounge wall which I’d wanted to paint for ages. I danced around to the radio with a paintbrush in hand with no beeps or rings to distract me.

I honestly hadn’t realised how much of my time and attention I’d been giving to my phone and technology. Not just texting and calling people but Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and reading the news. I’m totally glued to it, my phone is like an extension of my hand. It always on the table when I eat and beside my bed when I sleep, it’s the first thing I look at in the morning and the moment it makes a noise it has my undivided attention. However, when I found myself detached from it, I began to realise how much of a distraction it can be.

Finally after two days I found my phone hiding under a hat in my spare room.

I thought being phoneless would be an isolated lonely nightmare (slightly dramatic, sorry!) but it turned out to be a really productive, focused two days with no distractions filled with painting, reading and meeting new people. It’s been an enormous wake-up call, and really challenged me to switch my phone off every now and again. So I’ve decided to pass on the challenge to my friend Hannah. I’ve challenged her to switch off her phone and all technology for 10 whole hours and let us know how she got on…

Here’s what she said:

10 hours tech free
Before I attempted this, I simply had no idea how much technology has totally taken over. Overall, I’m glad I did it! The time I’ve spent with family and friends hasn’t been interrupted by incessant notifications as I’ve concentrated on putting my phone away in order to invest in real life relationships. However, those two days served as a reminder as to what a wonderful thing it is to be connected with friends and loved ones so much, but with this is the temptation to spend so long looking down that we don’t look up at what’s around us.

If I can learn to switch off more, I’m confident that I can experience more and share more experiences with those around me. Hopefully then ‘sharing’ turns into listening to a friend’s story, a ‘like’ turns into a genuine smile, a ‘comment’ turns into a meaningful conversation, and a ‘group message’ turns into spending time with those who mean the most.

And so, you can probably guess what’s coming…

The challenge: 
My challenge to you this September is to switch off, ok I know that might be a really crazy suggestion and if you’re anything like me then this will definitely be a challenge for you. But I really think this addiction to our phones and technology is affecting us and a break every now and again is healthy. Could you switch off for just an hour at first? Perhaps while you’re at the dinner table with family, switch off and give your friends your complete attention when you’re spending time with them, or maybe you feel ready for the whole 10 hours!

So do you accept the challenge? This is all about freeing your hands and focusing your attention. Go on, rise to the challenge and let us know how you got on.

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