Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO / Leave the device at home

Marjorie Spitz RentoComment

Just for a few minutes.

Last night, upon locking the door behind me to head out to the market, I realized I left my phone inside the apartment.

A moment of panic ensued.  Should I go back in and get it?  Take the trip to the market without it?   How would I manage the next 15 minutes?

The pull was strong:  at this point, my iPhone is pretty much attached to my body – it would feel awkward without it.  Plus, my mind goes right to emergencies:  What if there was an accident and I need to call 911? Or someone urgently needed to reach me?  Silly, right?

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After attending one of our mindful eating workshops last week, I’m reminded to practice being present, and committed to a mindful week.  I find the acts of being mindful and present (MOJO Maker #5) particularly challenging.  I’m so trained to multitask!

My success in the business world was particularly attributed to my master ability to handle multiple projects at once.  I loved it! 

We all know now how foolish that was long-term, given the findings around the pitfalls of multitasking.  Thankfully, I no longer strive to be a “master juggler,” although I admit I almost always either scan my emails, peruse Facebook, read, watch or listen to something while I eat.   I’m working on it though – mealtime can be so pleasant on its own. 

In the spirit of creating a week of mindfulness (it was only Monday after all), I continued on to the market sans phone.

Guess what?  The world didn't end.  There was no urgent call or email to attend to.  My body didn’t convulse from separation anxiety. 

In fact, in my short time without electronic distractions, here’s what happened.  I:

  • chatted with a teenager while waiting for a traffic light.
  • noticed where the snow had melted, and where there were still messy clumps.
  • had creative sparks up the wazoo:
    • thought of two Tuesdays with MOJO topics.
    • pinpointed a strategy for sending my last blog to a Ski Magazine 
  • efficiently ran an errand I kept avoiding.
  • tried a new specialty at the market (since I wasn’t on my phone, I actually talked with the specialist behind the counter).
  • avoided absently picking up items I didn’t need.

In this short trip to the market my mind could breathe and had room to speak to me.  And it did, loud and clear.

The halo continued when I got home. I actually remembered all the genius ideas my phoneless adventure yielded enough to write them down.

I felt strong and accomplished! 

Don’t get me wrong. I love my smart phone. It allows for me to work from anywhere.  Guides me with directions when I’m lost.  Connects me with people I don’t get to interact with often.  Counts my steps.  Gives me access to books.  However I check it too often and it easily becomes a time suck.

There’s actually an app called “checky” that will count the number of times you unlock your phone per day.

We are so used to our devices, we don’t consider how much may be lost.  This “touch screens can make us lose touch” video describes it beautifully and is well worth watching. 

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So I challenge you to leave the device at home.  Start with baby steps – a short trip to the market, hands free.  If you’re really daring, you can try an electronic free holiday or vacation.  Now don’t start hyperventilating!  Most of you were alive and thriving before cell phone and email took over our lives.  We can do this!

Consider what you could do with that time, and please share.

For you young folks, this may be more challenging.   According to an ICMPA (International Center for Media & the Public Agenda) study, most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world.

For folks like my mom who at the young age of 78 is literally attached to her phone (in particular Facebook), it may feel impossible. 

To ease the pain a bit, follow these suggestions:

  1. Tell those used to instant access to you you’ll be unavailable for a while. No need to panic your loved ones!
  2. Turn off automatic notifications.  It will be super difficult if your device keeps reminding you you’re ignoring it!
  3. Set a time each day you will go device free. It will start to feel regular and you will feel less withdrawal.
  4. Put it away.  Out of site (and away from your body) will leave you free to see and feel what’s going on around   you.  Enjoy it!
  5. Keep your hands busy!  Grab a healthful treat like a nice cup of herbal tea, give yourself a hand massage, exercise or just put your hands in your pockets.

When all else fails, just turn the darn thing over and don’t touch it!  Instead, inhale and look around you, observe, participate and embrace this bold new-device free world.  Even if only for a few moments.

Presently yours,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™