What does being connected mean to you?
From the moment I started my business 10 years ago, it meant constant access my emails at all hours of the day. I started with a Blackberry, then a Samsung Galaxy smart phone, before eventually moving to an iPhone. Having the world in my pocket seemed the ultimate solution to running a business whilst juggling college, a family home and all the chores it brings with it, and 2 young children.
But recently I’ve been finding life very stressful, and the constant “ping” of my phone courtesy of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and each of my three email accounts was a constant reminder of how many roles I juggle. My phone was never silent and everytime it “pinged” I felt my heart start to race, my breathing become shallow and fast, and I would tense my whole body at the thought of what it could be. These were the exact same feelings I’d been having on the train into work every morning when I was a City-girl, programming at the corporate banks in London. They were the exact same feelings that I’d quit my career over. I burnt out back then, and I was burning out again. I was getting snappy if the kids interrupted me while I was checking emails/social media/etc and I didn’t feel like I gave anyone 100% – not my clients, not my family, and not my friends.
So just last week, I decided it had to stop!
Unfortunately, willpower is not my strong point and not even using “silent mode” could stop me checking my phone every 2nd minute.
I looked online for a new mobile – text and calls, that was all I needed. I rang my mobile network provider and enquired about downgrading. They were not keen. They couldn’t even sell me the type of phone I wanted (the Nokia 130), without me going into their store, and were adamant that any contract package had to come with data (I now have 15GB of data each month, for a phone that has no browser!). Then there was the issue of SIM card size – for 2 years I’ve had an iPhone with a nano SIM, and now, my Nokia needed a standard sized SIM– the solution was to use the part of the SIM card that is normally thrown away as rubbish when you receive a new SIM for iPhones! For the whole downgrading process I was passed from person to person, shop to shop, and eventually, after ONE WEEK everything was ready and I could downgrade. I was hesitant at the last moment – how would I connect with my Instagram followers without a camera on my new phone? How would I keep the kids entertained on busy trains without that plethora of apps I had installed on my iPhone?
But I took a deep breath, went for it, and almost immediately I felt lighter.
It’s been almost a week now and I’m actually finding myself a lot more connected – not to my phone, but to my family and friends (and this blog!). I’ve met a friend for a long-overdue lunch, I’ve been to museums, parks and spent afternoons hunting for bugs with my children. Evenings are no longer spent to the soundtrack of my phone, but instead talking or watching a film with my partner. I have allocated myself specific times each day to access my emails, update my Instagram (still need my old iPhone and some WiFi for that sadly), and I spend time when the children go to bed having one thorough read through of my social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter etc. It frustrates me that these apps all encourage constant access.
But my head is clear. My shoulders feel lighter (and not just because my new phone weighs a fraction of a smartphone!). I’m sleeping better – I’d like to say this is due to less WiFi/radiation in my bedroom at night, but is more likely to be lower stress levels and less tension during the day!
And we are all happier.
I have my work life balance back, and best of all – the battery life on my new phone is 36 days (yes days, not hours!!) which means no more carrying extra cables/plugs/emergency chargers around with me everywhere I go, in case of unexpected loss of battery charge (why do smartphones do that?)
If you’ve ever considered going low-tech and downgrading to a dumb-phone, I’d say go for it. It feels amazing!