It might be hard to believe, but I remember the days (if not weeks) I spent trying to convince my parents to upgrade my cell phone to a “smartphone.”
It was my sophomore year of college and my current cell phone was on the fritz. I distinctly remember my strongest argument to my parents, “I’m going to need it for my internship so I can check my work emails on the go.”
It was a true statement. At the time, I was studying broadcast journalism and public relations. I had a knack for broadcast journalism and had landed a couple of really good internships during the school year. Being “connected” with a smartphone would give me the upper hand in finding news stories and learning about breaking news. Not to mention it would make life easier when communicating outside of the newsroom.
That argument must have worked. The next time my parents were in town we headed down to the Verizon store and I purchased my first iPhone. From that point on, I was never “unplugged.”
After graduating college, I was fortune enough to land a job as a multimedia journalist at a local television station. With the job, came an overwhelming need to stay connected ALL THE TIME. I was constantly checking emails, social media, news websites, etc. to make sure I knew what was happening and where. (If you’ve seen the movie Morning Glory – the scene first scene when she’s checking her phone the whole time. Yup, that was me.)
It was the source of numerous fights between my (now husband) when he was in town visiting (we were dating long distance at the time). When those fight happened I had my stock response of, “This is my job.”
That line worked….Until I left the news business and was still connected to my phone 24/7. Fast forward to today, I’m currently a social media and marketing coordinator. With the title, I thought I could use the same line when my (now husband) would say you’re always on your phone. I’d simply respond, “I’m checking Facebook – it’s my job.” To be honest, I was lying. I was checking much more than just Facebook. I was checking and responding to my work emails as well.
I am extremely fortunate to work for a company where checking my email outside of work is not a necessity. Enough so, those late nights when I would stay up emailing my manager back I would often get emails back saying “Ok, stop checking your email and go to bed” and get a stern talking to the next day about the importance of unplugging. Still I couldn’t unplug…Call it habit I guess.
I finally hid my work email from my phone the week of my wedding and mini-moon. I should clarify and say my manager nearly forced me to hide my work email from my phone the week of my wedding and mini-moon.It was the most liberating/anxiety-filled feeling in the world. Don’t get me wrong – everyone knew what they were supposed to do when I left the office and my “out of office” email was set up, but I still asked myself “what’s going on in the company?””What am I going to walk into when I get back in the office?”
The answer: I missed nothing. NOTHING. Business carried on as usually with or WITHOUT my email on my phone.
After my mini-moon, I came back to work and immediately enabled my work email on my phone and fell right back into the swing of things. Just last week, I decided I enjoyed the feeling of not being so readily available and deleted my work email off my phone. Do I still get anxious at night wondering what I’m going to walk into the next day? Sure. I also still get anxious knowing someone might not get an answer to their email until the next time I’m in the office – crazy, I know. But when you’re used to being so “plugged in” these are the thoughts you have! Now I’m back to teaching myself that emails can wait until I’m back in the office. Let’s be honest and say no one really expects you to email them back at 10:30 at night to confirm an ad size.
Even though it’s only been about two weeks, I’ve already noticed a huge change in my mood as well my relationship. I’m much more attentive to my husband, friends, and I’ve also noticed my anxiety and stress levels have gone down. The best part – I’m now able to FULLY leave work at work and concentrate on being a newlywed instead!
As we’re getting closer to the new year, I would challenge you to see if you can “unplug” for a short amount of time. You can think of it as an experiment. Who knows you might find you like being “unplugged” and stick with it!