Something quite shocking happened a couple of weeks ago: my mobile phone stopped working. Gasp. Gulp. Panic.
These were genuinely my first thoughts, something I’m quite ashamed to admit. I worried I’d be unable to respond to emails the second they pinged into my inbox. I fretted over my ability to keep up with my Twitter feed; what would people think if I didn’t respond to their messages straight away, wherever I was and whatever I was doing?
I managed to fiddle with the phone for the next couple of hours and got it to the stage where I could just about respond to emails and text messages, but I couldn’t open any attachments, text or email randomly, access the internet, or any social media feeds.
Due to other life commitments, including a sick child off school for over a week, I couldn’t find the time to go and get the phone sorted out, so have put up with the limited usage for the past couple of weeks.
As the days wore on, my irritation at having to fiddle around to pick up any messages, or turn to the laptop to access anything else, turned to a calmer, slightly amused attitude. It became quite a relief, in some ways, to decide to leave an enquiry be if it wasn’t urgent.
And I found that when I did go and check out social media updates, or do research online on the laptop, I got bored and irritated with it. I just started reading what genuinely interested me, such as other writer’s blogs and flash pieces in magazines I follow, as well as promoting my own writing. This was much less time consuming than getting embroiled in discussions that ate away at the precious chunks of time I was supposed to be devoting to work on writing projects.
I haven’t always been addicted to my phone. In fact, this is only the second mobile I’ve owned; my husband had to practically prise my old pay-as-you-go one out of my hands, I hate change and technology so much. (It’s still in my bedside drawer – so hah!)
But as I was devoting more time and energy to submit my writing, and reading and researching other great work that was getting published, running this blog and responding to editor’s who were increasingly based in the US and worked in different time-zones to me, I increasingly saw the need for an update. I still resisted the iPhone, and have a fairly old Blackberry model which many people would consider outdated.
But in the 2-3 weeks I’ve not had access to a fully functioning model, I’ve noticed several things. Firstly, I’ve read more books. You know, like, those actual ones with pages and nice covers? I read all the time, of course, but I was often so busy checking updates and blogs, or researching information on my mobile in bed, I was then too tired to read for pleasure. Now though, I’ve found myself reading for at least an hour a night, and not just books for review but books for the sweet, damn pleasure of reading.
I don’t know if it’s connected, but I’ve then been ready for sleep at the same time each night, sleeping soundly and better than in years.
I’ve also felt like my creative output has increased. I’ve had more ideas, written or started more pieces of flash and edited others. I’ve submitted lots of work because, whilst I’ve had the laptop on, I’ve used the time well.
I know I’ve had better attendance to the people around me, especially my kids. I’ve been more present, responding to them when they ask something without being distracted and having to drag my attention away from the phone. There’s something I find difficult about splitting my attention when I’m reading from a mobile that I don’t find with a book. It makes me feel in a kind of stupor, distracted, distant. And it’s something I’ve noticed with the people around me since I stopped using mine so much, (see – you notice more when you aren’t attached to a device all the time! Great for a writer).
Overall – and I appreciate this could be co-incidental and due to other factors playing a part – but I’ve felt happier, calmer, more positive, creative and relaxed, not to mention present, in the past two weeks than I have in a long time.
I would wholeheartedly recommend you try it for yourselves. The only question now is: what do I do about replacing my broken phone? Maybe it’s time to pick out the pay-as-you-go one from the bedroom drawer…