Have you ever been at a family function and looked around and noticed every single person was on their phone? How did that make you feel? Did you laugh it off, or was it frustrating that your family is no longer conversing with one another outside texting and Facebook? Or maybe you’ve been in a work meeting and it’s your turn to present, but when you look up from your notes you realize no one is even listening to you, as they are all glued to their tablets. My husband used to be a bartender at a pub in England and he has fond memories of the camaraderie and community that was developed over conversations had at the bar, even among strangers. Now when you see people at the bar, they aren’t even watching the plethora of games available, they are simply watching their phones. It’s not realistic to hope for things to go back to how they used to be; as more technology is developed, the more people will use it in their everyday lives. However, while you can’t demand that bar patrons put their phone away (although that is a good concept if you are looking to start a business!), there are things you can do in your own home and with family to ensure that the time you spend together is about quality and not just quantity. Because after all, you are not interested in the time you get with people, but the energy you receive from them when you’re together. Here are some tips to separate yourself and loved ones from common distractions:
1 – leave your phone at the door. Whether you take this literally or figuratively, it’s a good idea to detach yourself from your phone at the end of the day. You may choose to actually leave your phone in your car, or maybe simply put it away in a desk drawer for the evening. You don’t have to turn it off, but if you do choose to leave it on, think about changing your ringtones. I like to have a separate ringtone for family, so if I hear that I know that I should probably pick up.
2- set some ground rules. If you have kids, I’m sure you have screen time and phone guidelines set. However, are you following some rules yourself? Sometimes, it’s nice to unwind by playing mindless games on the phone. But that can eat up time very quickly, time that could be spent with family. So you could try to limit your screen time to when the kids are sleeping. Or maybe, delete the games from your phone to avoid the distraction. Whatever works for you, as long as you are aware of the amount of time being spent in this direction.
3- phone basket. If you are having family over for dinner, it’s a nice idea to ask everyone to put their phones in a basket upon arrival. People will probably complain initially, but eventually everyone will be having such a great time actually speaking to one another, they will forget all about it! This could also work for some office meetings, depending on the content.
4- no charging. On the weekends, choose not to charge your phone. This will force you to think about what you are using your phone for, and will probably start to curb the habit of randomly picking up your phone and checking the screen for no reason at all.
5- keep it in the backseat. Obviously, in most places it is ILLEGAL to drive with your phone, not to mention how incredibly dangerous it is. However, some people still do not get it. If you are someone who finds yourself picking up your phone at every stoplight, and then continuing to use it when the light turns green, you may want to think about keeping the phone in the back seat. Turn on your bluetooth if you have it so you can answer important calls, but everything else really can wait until you get there. I’m begging you, for the sake of my children and yours, PLEASE stay off your phone when you’re driving. Nothing is that important. Check out this website for some scary stats if I haven’t convinced you.
At the end of the day, your family, friends and coworkers want your focus and energy far more than your presence alone. If you can learn to separate yourself from distractions, you can give them what they need. Take some time to look around and enjoy life and the people in it!