I have to admit that I did something completely out of character for me last week: I turned my phone off. Well, my work phone anyway.
I’m not sure if this is commonplace, but I always carry two phones with me: a personal phone and one for work purposes, because it’s rather embarrassing when you send a personal message to a senior manager when you hadn’t actually intended to…. I use my personal phone to call and message friends and family, and I use my work phone to conduct professional calls and answer correspondence.
You might think that owning two phones is a tad excessive, but the truth is that I do not pay for my work phone as it is provided and paid for by the company I work for. When I first started at the bottom rungs of the career ladder, I was given a no-frills phone that made and received calls and text messages. When you hit the management leagues, they provide you with a shiny new Blackberry which enables you to also send and receive emails (and use BBM, Facebook, Twitter etc. all of which are frowned upon in the company.)
While it is great to be connected via phone and email while at work, it’s not so great when you have to take the phone home with you at night, especially when last-minute emails and texts come through. Though my working hours are set, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been answering work queries on my Blackberry late at night.
It wasn’t until my career mentor pointed out to me that I have no obligation to keep my phone on when I am not at work that I realised what a mistake I’d been making. For months, I’d done nothing but think about work, mainly because I kept my work phone on at all times and would always answer any and all queries. While that probably makes me sound like a committed worker, it also meant that I was never disengaging from work and was, in fact, bringing it home with me.
I had a horrendously busy week recently and found a lot of the stress and pressure placed firmly on my shoulders alone. Somehow I made it through that week, mainly because I knew that I’d booked two vacation days at the end of it. I informed my manager of my plans and told her in no uncertain terms that I would be turning my phone off during my vacation days.
I turned it off and for the first time in nearly six months, I felt a sense of peace descend over me. In those two days, I didn’t once look at my work phone or wonder what was happening at the office. I spent my vacation days relaxing, unwinding and thinking about all of the things that I’d not had a chance to contemplate while being so wrapped up in my work.
It seemed too quiet at first and I found the silence quite difficult to get used to, but I have t0 admit that turning my phone off was the best thing that I could have done and really allowed me to recharge my batteries and return to work in a better frame of mind.
Not having my phone as a constant source of information, I found myself feeling quite disconnected for a while and it got me thinking about how society seems to be so connected to technology and instant information that sometimes we forget about the simple things in life. While I admit that I probably couldn’t go a day without getting on the internet on my iPad, I think that we all need to disconnect from a world that has become far too reliant relaying every aspect of our lives online.
It’s an intriguing experiment, to disconnect from the world for day or two. If you can’t bear the thought of being out of the loop for that long, perhaps try turning your phone/tablet/computer off for an hour or two and bask in the feeling of nothingness. It’s actually more soothing than it sounds….
So, is anyone willing to disconnect for a day and find out what happens? I’d love to hear from you if you do 🙂