For the first time since I have had a smart phone, say around five years, I switched it completely off for the whole of last week. It stayed off for seven nights, not once coming on, not once.
Well, as I got on to my plane to start our weeklong family holiday to the amazing Castaway Island in Fiji, I turned on airplane mode and then switched the iPhone off. During the flight, whilst chatting with the guy in the seat next to me about work life balance and the challenges of trying to ‘disconnect’ during one’s holiday, I decided to pledge to my wife there and then that it would stay off for the whole week’s break at Castaway Island.
My thinking was that the most important people in my life were with me. My wife has a phone to be contacted on if any issues with extended family, pets or the house arose. So, as I am on holiday, I don’t need to be checking my emails, posting to Instagram, sharing ‘live’ photos on Facebook and reading posts on LinkedIn. Trust me, there was plenty of other fun stuff to be focusing on each day.
Before I harp on about the virtues of properly disconnecting, and also share some observations. I do completely appreciate that this is not possible for a lot of people. Many of us are sole traders, business owners, others are running complicated projects that are in full swing, and not everyone is able to fully delegate. Long gone are the days when if something was urgent and needed your attention, the hotel reception got a call and tracked you down.
I guess I was fortunate that I was able to have my work staged in a way that my attention was not required (the week leading up had been very busy), and that I am lucky to have brilliant bosses and colleagues that can comfortably cover me in my absence if need be. Perhaps, this time round the perceived ‘risk’ of missing something was low.
The thing that surprised me the most is that I did not miss my phone, nor did feel any withdrawal symptoms. Once I had made the conscious decision, I settled into holiday mode and actually fully disconnected from not just work, but news events, other people’s social media lives etc. I feel that I, personally, gave my family full attention at all times (well except when I was kayaking off on my own).
One thing that was interesting was that I started to notice other people on their phones (there was only WIFI at the main and pool restaurants). People would be checking emails by the pool, surfing Facebook at breakfast, and then there was the glow of illuminated faces over dinner with their loved ones. The disturbing impact of technology in paradise was very clear to me. Saying that, I will admit that I did briefly check BBC Football on my wife’s iPhone one morning over breakfast to see if Liverpool had won their game that evening (some habits are harder to kick).
If you are able to switch off from work, then I recommend actually turning off your phone and storing in it your safe. Out of sight, out of mind.
Thanks for reading.