When a very dear friend of mine came back to the States in the summer from her two-year journey with the Peace Corp one of the things she found interesting was the use of multiple devices at once. She said something along the lines of “I don’t really get it, I mean, people have their computer in front of them where they are doing work, their phone to the right beeping all the time with new texts, and a tablet to the left playing a show or something.” While I laughed along with her commenting how silly it was, I noticed that my computer was in fact in front of me, while I was on the phone with her, and my IPad was streaming my latest Netflix obsession. To be honest, I very briefly considered how hypocritical I was being in the moment and then proceeded to forget about all of it as I continued to “work.”
Flash forward to the dead of winter, where I found myself talking to my sister (can’t you tell that I’m the baby sister who’s obsessed with my awesome big sis!!) about her newest adventure. She was talking to me about how she had given up the overuse of technology and was finding that it was making her incredibly productive. At first, I was completely against the idea. I mean come on, there is nothing like a nice song blasting in your ear to make you productive while you write, right? Then, I paused. I’ve noticed recently that any time I get angry at an idea, or get nervous just thinking about doing it, this usually means that the most potential is in that very idea for my personal growth. So I mulled it over. What would this disconnection from technology look like? Would it just be checking my phone half as much as I normally would? Would it be getting off the grid completely? I agreed internally that it would have to mean something more than just lowering an already established habit. I would have to feel some discomfort, at least in the beginning, in order to really change my ways. This is the list of things that I have done so far (remember that this is only day 1):
1. I’ve given up listening to music at all, including while driving, except for when I work out.
2. I can only check my phone 1 time before work, 1 time at work, and 2 times after work.
3. Whenever I am doing a task, be it talking on the phone, eating, writing, reading etc. I can only be doing that one task. This means not allowing myself to be distracted by anything else. For example, when I’m on the phone with a friend, I have to sit down and only talk to that person, not the usual multitasking of answering an email or cleaning my room simultaneously while chatting it up.
4. I can only check Facebook once in the day. This is for the obvious desire for sanity.
5. I cannot stream any more Netflix. I cannot watch a show unless I am doing it socially. This means no more streaming some random show to play in the background as I put on my makeup, or bing watching episodes of Intervention before going to sleep.
I have waged war on multi-tasking and my overuse of technology and I love it. My car ride was incredibly uncomfortable this morning. No music meant that I could hear every creek that my car made. Yet after a while, I felt this odd sense of calm and peace. This stillness was also present in my usually noisy morning routine since I couldn’t stream any shows. I found myself walking into work feeling very zen and capable of taking on anything. While going through my tasks at work, I was not distracted by every email that popped in (I scheduled e-mail checking time for that) and I focused on every task. Not only did this make the task go by smoothly, it also got done more quickly because I was not stopping every thirty seconds.
Now, onto the negative side effects. I kept thinking about my cell phone. Even though it was hidden away in my purse, I kept feeling the itch to pull it out and check. I also found that I was alone with my thoughts, which meant that I had to face my inner demon telling me to slack off. I found that the silence also gave more room for negative thoughts to come into my mind space. There was no outside noise to silence feelings of doubt as I worked through a report. Luckily, the focus on being focused helped with this some and drove out many of these thoughts since they were not assisting in finishing the task at hand.
While driving home, in silence, at the end of my work day, I remembered what my friend had said to me and smiled. I realized today, that although it may have taken months for a change, I had decided to not be a hypocrite any more. Although there are struggles to face, and the negative thoughts need to be worked on, I was proud of myself and found myself smiling at the silence around me. The War Against Noise has begun, and I am confident I shall be the victor.