I often marvel at the fact that my life is so vastly different than it was just a decade ago. Today I’m so connected and online it’s hard to remember how I functioned back then. As a kid I didn’t have a mobile phone, no one else did either, and life was good.
There’s this one occasion I remember when I was around 16 years old. My dad was letting me drive his 1979 white Ford pick up truck that was on its last legs. I remember every morning praying to the powers that be that the truck stay alive on my way to school. Of course, one day it broke down in the middle of a busy thoroughfare during the morning commute hour. It must of been quite a sight – a teenager in a school girl uniform standing in the middle of the street next to a white behemoth trying to flag down fellow drivers for help. I remember feeling super anxious yet powerfully capable, and from the assistance of a few compassionate commuters we managed to push the truck into the Jaguar dealership across the way. After making friends with the car salesmen I called my parents and AAA for help. It all seemed very natural.
Now, transpose that scenario to 2014. In today’s technological context with abundant resources, would I have responded the same? Probably not. Especially not at 16 years old. I probably would have been paralyzed in the cab frantically distracting myself with my phone, waiting helplessly in a bubble of invisibility.
Hands down, my phone has changed my habits drastically.
I am dependent on its companionship. I feel eagerly tethered to its power. With every ding, ring, or beep I jump. I might not get to it right away but knowing something is waiting for me on the other side eats at my attention.
I bring this up because one of the things I often discuss with my friends is how to be more present. As a mom, it’s important that I give my children my full attention. As a wife it’s important that I give my husband the quality of listening that I hope to receive back. But it’s a challenge with so many obligations and distractions I deal with on a constant basis. I find myself pulled in so many directions that I sometimes find myself confused with which direction I’m facing.
My phone doesn’t help.
So I’m taking it back to 1997. No, I’m not committing to get rid of my phone cause that would be just ridiculous. But there is ONE thing I’m committing to not use it for any more… and that’s telling time.
“What time is it?”
Damn, that question is sticky! There are so many times in a day I need to know this answer. What have I come to rely on? My phone. But that darn phone is a black hole! As soon as I check to see the time I notice, “Oh! I’ve got a 3 texts, and a vm, and 4 notifications on Facebook!” Next thing I know, it’s 7 minutes later and my son is pulling on my shirt saying, “Moooooooooommmmm, can we PPPPLLLEEEAAASSSEEE go over to the swings now?” For 7 minutes I forgot I was a robot playing hide and seek.
Easy Fix: Wear A Watch.
I used to love watches. It was such a fun collection to maintain. That love affair somehow faded away and I don’t know exactly when I said goodbye to my faithful companions.
Well, good to see you OLD friend. And I’m talking old… like the watches we wore in 1997… none of these Google Android Inspector Gadget watches now hitting the market. I’m not falling for this next trap. 😉
So there you have it: one easy, quick way to practice living more presently. Use a watch to tell the time. Don’t get me wrong – I love my phone, and I know my phone will continue to be a huge player and distraction in my life. But relying on a watch to answer a question I ask countless times will keep me from unnecessarily slipping into a black hole.
What do you think? Want to join me in this minor lifestyle adjustment? If you’ve also been working to be less distracted by your phone, what other tips could you share for the rest of us? Thanks in advance for your contributions! Here’s to living purposefully and presently… and loving every minute of it. 🙂
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Amy Eliza Wong is a life coach, writer, and speaker in the Sacramento, CA area committed to helping people figure out what makes them tick so they can finally live with joy and real purpose. Learn more about working with her.