My typical week: Monday begins with daylong conference calls, from Tuesday to Friday I travel to various cities for business meetings, on the weekend I travel within the city for attending various activities. In all these pursuits my constant companion is my phone- for calls, mails, text, WhatsApp or even social media.
Out of a total standard 40 Hrs in a week, our life is very much attached to our devices. This sort of overuse is so prevalent that researchers have coined the term “nomophobia” to describe the fear of being without mobile phone contact (abbreviation of “no – mobile – phobia”).
I too fell into this trap two days back. Someone was speaking, and I was making some notes on the smartphone notepad. The speaker felt distracted, so I had to keep my phone back and get back to writing on real notepads. It was difficult, and I realized in a week that smartphones and emails are hard to resist. According to Psychologist Adam Atler they’re both part of the fabric of society and promote psychologically compelling experiences.
As per Simon Sinek, phones are disruptive by their mere existence, even when they aren’t in active use. They’re distracting because they remind us of the world beyond the immediate conversation. In one Q&A session, he mentions how if you are holding your smart phone and talking to people, then in the subconscious mind of the listener the image is that “I am not important, the phone is.” I decided to see how much I can practice being away from the phone. I recollected periods when I deliberately did not take my phone for breakfast, lunch and dinner with family and I asked my daughter to take some nice pics. Of course, kids like to first click the food and as it gets into their Instagram feed in the next moment.
One video that was forwarded in multiple WhatsApp groups over the last few weeks was “you only have 7 years to live.” It was about how much time we have in our life to do what we want to do in life. The same week, I heard another speaker mention about a TED talk by Adam Atler on Detoxing Devices. When I reached home, the first thing I did was to google and see that TED speech. It was a 10 min speech and I was inspired. The interesting portion of the TED speech was about how much it is important to get your personal time and with the invasion of devices it was showing stats on how much of that time is decreasing.
I asked my wife to see the video. She liked it and then she said, “how ironic! You are showing me this video?” This was on a Sunday afternoon. The whole weekend I had been out of the house and when I came back I was occupied with my smartphone and laptop!
I recollected my grandfather’s routines. He passed away at the age of 101. Early to bed and early to rise as simple as that, the age-old maxim, the advice I continue to tell my daughters unfailingly. I am still struggling to adapt this in my life. My grandfather would get up at 5.30AM, have his morning tea, followed by reading newspaper and then of course morning chores. He would be at the breakfast table by 9.30 AM and by 10AM he would go out for a quick walk to meet his friends. By 11.30 he would be back home, have Lemon juice, then watch TV for 1 hr and read anything he had missed in the newspaper. Lunch was at sharp 2PM followed by siesta till 4PM and by 5 PM he would be out again for an evening walk and catching up with other friends. He would comeback by 7 PM, watch TV for some more time while chatting with all of us and by 9PM dinner and by 10PM back to bed. I vividly remember how I used to disturb him with the study routines (I was always a late-nighter) since my study table was in his room.
I compared my one-week cycle and his one-day cycle. The main difference I noticed was that in his daily activities there was something Atler calls “Stopping Cues”. A stopping cue for my grandfather was that any activity had to end within a certain time like reading newspaper (you have only limited pages) and there was another task or activity. As per Adam Atler the absence of stopping cues is what WhatsApp, FB, Instagram leverages. The lack of stopping cues leads us to click and engage onto one content after the other and we fall into the bottomless screen
Yesterday I was running, and my running App told me:
The temptation to keep running was high but I decided to stop as I had promised my younger daughter that I would come in ten minutes. That was my stopping cue.
I am in the process of creating more stopping cues for myself. I landed in Orlando last month and I went around the city without the Buzz, Bing, Beep (my phone was in airplane mode). I enjoyed some wonderful moments. I relive those moments when I see these photos. At the end of his speech Adam Atler says,” Drive along a long road close to the sea, you can either take up your phone and take a picture or if you want to really enjoy that moment, go out feel the air and touch the water and leave the phone in the car.” My next attempt will be to do so.