About 2/3 of Americans & Canadians own a smartphone, and in this crowd, I know that number is much higher. I am one of them, of course, and I am very thankful for the little computer in my pocket. It allows me to work on the fly, take photos for business & pleasure, and do a zillion other wonderful things (like call my mom).
The oppression of these devices is a well-trodden path, but regardless of how many convincing videos you watch, it’s much easier philosophized than done when it comes to cutting the chain between us & our phones.
This past year, I have experimented with limiting the notifications on my phone, and I can tell you that has been a huge, healthy step in the right direction!
It began last winter, when I decided for the Lent season to only check Facebook for 10 minutes, once a day. This sounds like a really pathetic resolution, but I knew I couldn’t go off completely (I use it for work), and I have FOMO so I like to have a pulse on what’s going on!
Anyhow, the first imperative was turning off the push notifications to my phone. I didn’t want to be distracted all day with the little icon or a ding when I wasn’t going to take any action, so I turned them off altogether.
I don’t know about you, but I really love the little sound of something arriving. Someone cares to interact with me! There is some new information to receive! I’m not missing out! Isn’t that what our deepest, broken selves are feeling when that notification sounds?
But, for me, I knew that when observed from the outside, the dings on my phone (I use the sound of a coffee spoon tinkling against a saucer) and my response to them made me no different from Pavlov’s dogs. It was like the sound would clink and I would leap up from what I was doing to satisfy my curiosity. “Jump,” it said, and I responded, “How High?”
This is an inanimate object I’m talking about that I was allowing to boss me around.
Taking the Facebook notifications off of my phone was incredibly freeing. Some time after, I did the same for instagram. Then, way, way later, I finally did the same for my email.
Email was the hardest to let go of, because of my perception that there were urgent & important things constantly coming that I needed to address (or at least know about). Owning my own business, this is a legitimate concern.
But, I was struggling to find rest and break and boundaries and enjoyment in all my various circumstances. I often felt antsy when I wasn’t trying to get work done even during times that I had not set aside for working.
There is alwaysmore to do in your own business, and the internet never closes; the struggle is real, but were these things really as urgent or important as I thought? Could they not wait until I was ready to respond to them? By looking at my emails during inconvenient times (say, while playing with my kids or cooking), if there was something actionable, there seemed to arise two options:
I finally determined that regardless of how often I checked, there would always be something in my inbox waiting for me, and it would continue to wait for me until I was ready. No more interruptions. No more anxious mind. I was over it!
Now, I keep ALL of my notifications off except text, and I often silence everything except phone calls. I still check email and the other things too often, but I am trying to keep it at bay. I’m striving to only check them when I am ready to pay proper attention (as well as ready to not pay attention to whatever else is at hand -- kids, cooking, work, the world, etc.). Another goal is chunks of the day and one day of the week that are device free. It’s a process. But I’m confident that I am headed in the right direction, the direction of freedom, effectiveness, focus, and healthy balance.
Do you have any examples, tips, or hacks for living better with technology? I’m loving the topic of “Margin” that Shawn Blanc is talking about this month. We clearly all need help (me, first!), so share anything you've got in the comments below.
Our production partner, Basha, began in one little office in Dhaka, Bangladesh — the most densely populated city in the world. Over the many years they have been in business, creating kantha textiles & jewelry, they have expanded: both in number of staff, and also locations.
It was helpful for some women to leave the norm of their old life environment, to get away, to start fresh in a new city. So, Basha created different offices in varied locations. They established a girls' home to safely house daughters & other vulnerable young women as they come of age.
As Basha has continued to identify the great need of women in Bangladesh, there is another area they have expanded: actively seeking women in brothels & whispering the potential of a new life.
As I was packing for our first family international flight (to London UK), I wanted to make sure that we had everything we needed to make our overnight journey the most comfortable. As you know, those flights can be a little chilly - so I wanted to bring blankets for all of us. Naturally, I wondered...
Can I bring a blanket onto a plane?
In short: YES! According to the TSA you are allowed to both check a blanket in your luggage and to bring a blanket on a plane within a carry-on (and this also includes electric blankets). You can even bring your own blanket in your arms as you would a jacket or hat, without it counting towards your carry-on or personal item limits or paying any extra fees.
When I got married as a baby (4 days over 21), I was still a student. Then, we both worked for a bit, then we had babies, and then my husband was a student. For almost all of those years, our "budget" was: try to not spend money.
This head-in-the-sand tactic has served us... ok... BUT, now that I'm pretending to be a real grownup (at age 35 — youngest children tend to be late to the responsibility party), I'm taking a new approach!
After Christmas, I started using You Need a Budget (YNAB) to track every expense & plan for future spending. Two months in, here’s what I think.
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