This is why it’s so hard to unplug from work and why you need to anyway
By: Lynda McNutt Foster
61.5% of people, in a Cortex survey poll conducted by K92 radio, said they were not going to unplug during the Christmas holiday. I asked folks on my FB today if they planned on unplugging, not one person said they were going to.
One respondent to the K92 poll question, “Do you plan to completely unplug during the Christmas holiday?” said “No way… it’s the only way to escape my family!” Ha!
Even when we want to unplug, why is it so hard to do?
It used to be that our phone did one thing. It rang, and when it did, we answered it. Or, we didn’t. When I was growing up we got an answering machine when I was like 10 and we didn’t have voicemail until I was like 18 or something. Getting call waiting was transformative. I was allowed to talk on the phone when my mom was waiting for a call to come in – wow!
We thought Polaroid cameras were the bomb. Man, you could take a photograph and get to see it within minutes. Amazing, we thought! The quality was crap, but we didn’t care because it was so convenient. The other types of film had to be delivered to the pharmacy and could take like a week to develop.
We had AmericaOnLine, finally, that helped us hook into the internet and get an email. There was no texting and most companies didn’t have email yet as a way of communicating, so email was a way to talk to someone without having to actually talk to them. We went to banks to make a deposit or cash a check. We went to the library to look anything up, or I asked my dad which was always interesting. He just made stuff up, come to find out, when he didn’t know something.
Do you remember when…
We had to watch TV for the news and the weather. My dad was our GPS. The only recipes I really knew were the ones my mom cooked. When I came home for the holidays I took a taxi or my sister or brother picked me up at the airport. We had the radio, then 8 track tapes, then cassette tapes, then CD’s. The Walkman was a wonder machine. We could actually take our music where we going. Before that we used to just play the stereo really loud so we could hear it in the backyard or down the street.
Books. Well, books, those were things that took up space in your house on bookshelves. If you went on vacation you had to choose which one you wanted to bring and you couldn’t buy them online, they had to be purchased on local bookstores or checked out from the library. If one of them got turned into a movie we better get to the theater and see it while it was there because it was going to take a couple of years to make it to one of the 3 networks that would play it…if it was a blockbuster.
It wasn’t that long ago that when you wanted to complain about your pain, emotionally or physically, you had a limited crowd. A great birthday party growing up netted about 25 friends, if you were popular, coming over to wish you well. If you wanted to share a photograph you had to have copies made and send them in a card to your grandmother who couldn’t wait to get them in the mail. Not so, anymore.
It’s all in the palm of our hands
All of these things, and so much more, are now right in the palm of our hands. If we forget or turn off our phones we need to have multiple other devices that are not nearly as convenient for us, to make up for everything that can be found on our smartphones.
Christmas without our smartphone? How are we going to take pictures, check other people’s pictures, get a ride, check on what we forgot to get at the grocery store while we are there, listen to the music we want to hear, when we want to hear it? How will we know that people we rarely see or even bump into care about what happens to us over the holidays?
With all those amazing things going on in the palm of our hands, how do we escape the stress and pressure that little device creates for us…like work emails, or the news, or a friend’s or family member’s drama?
Need some reasons to unplug this holiday season?
Here are some suggestions for keeping your smartphone around for the fun stuff and not have it be a weapon of mass distraction during the holidays:
- Turn off all notifications. All of them. The ones from your text messages, emails, apps…all of them. No more dinging and pinging and allowing the little device to control what to pay attention to.
- Announce to anyone whom it might affect, that you are going to be powering down while you are away from the office. Ask them to please get with you before you leave about anything that they think might come up while you are away.
- Create a code among your team members. This is highly effective. Make a rule about how you will notify others and they will notify you about the level of importance the communication. For instance, our team has a rule. When it is not urgent, we send an email which means to get back to them when you can. If they call and don’t leave a message, it means they probably wanted to call instead of type it out. If it’s important, they send a text. If it’s urgent and important and you are the only person that can solve it, they call 3x in a row. It really does work beautifully. You can do a similar thing with family members.
- Remove any apps that annoy you. It’s your device! If you haven’t used the app in a year or every time you click on it your blood pressure rises, take the thing off your screen.
- Don’t carry it around with you! It’s just too easy to grab it the minute you get bored or want to avoid a conversation or interaction, or to check on something “really quickly”. When I was growing up, you just had to face that boring person who droned on and on about what it was like to be a kid growing up…
Oh, man. I’m that person now.
I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and holiday season! I will be with my family in Florida next Sunday so I will be taking next week off, and well, be as unplugged as is possible. I do want to take a few pictures, and check my Twitter feed, and see what my Aunt is doing in CA, and listen to some podcasts and read a few books and…
PS. If you are wondering about the picture. That’s my dad, Ned Moulton, mom, Nancy Moulton, my sister, Gwen McBride on the left and me when I was about 15 years old.