Turn off your phone

For the first weeks of the coronavirus outbreak I was having difficulty balancing my time between the personal and professional. Early on I made a rule that I would keep work only on certain days of the week, and then only within a certain range of hours.

I thought that would solve the problem, but it didn’t. I found myself worrying about work when I should have been focusing on my personal life. I think the problem is that once work goes virtual, it is (ironically) always present in the room, wherever you are.

But now I think I have really solved the problem. Not only do I walk away from the computer outside of certain bounded hours, but I also walk away from the phone. Not only that, I power off my phone.

Once my phone is powered off at some point in the afternoon, I don’t even turn it on until the following morning. My feeling is that anything from the outside world that would require my attention at night can just as easily wait until morning.

There is no email so urgent that it can’t wait until morning. And if somebody phones me and really needs me to call them back, they can leave a voicemail message.

It was interesting to see how my subconscious self adapted to this change. At first I found myself reaching for my phone at random moments.

Then I would remember, with a sense of relief, that it was literally impossible for me to reach for my phone. Not only was my phone powered off, but it was sitting in a room somewhere else in the house, at a safe distance from my neurotic self.

Since I have adopted the practice of turning my phone off after work is done, life has gotten much better in every way. I am far more present with people I love, the people who are right there in the room with me. Not coincidentally, my level of anxiety has gone from very high to very low.

Turn off your phone. I highly recommend it.

2 Responses to “Turn off your phone”

  1. Alistair says:

    Interesting, I am almost the other way around. Pre-lockdown, I was not able to have my phone at work. I work at a site which requires all phones to be left in the gatehouse (or in a car). Until now, I have never been able to have access to my phone during work hours. Even now, it spends most of my work hours untouched.

    Ask me to turn it off outside work hours… well, I may as well get rid of it completely!

  2. Adrian says:

    Given that there’s no reliable cell signal at my house, I’ve always powered my phone off upon arriving home from work, and I don’t turn it on again until I reach the office the next morning. Now, after a couple months working at home, I’m not certain I know where my cell phone is. I cannot fathom how folks get by without landlines.

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