I was watching a TED Talk recently and a very important point was made about finding the correct balance between life and technology.
The speaker, Simon Sinek, pointed out the many behaviours that people have with email, text messaging, and social media, particularly in relation to cell phone usage, which in his opinion can amount to an addiction.
I highly recommend searching for some of his talks. One of the many examples he gives is that he feels mobile phones should not be present during meetings. Fair enough if they are on silent and in people's pockets, but certainly not placed on the table.
He feels that walking into a meeting and placing your phone in front of you on the table sends the signal that the meeting isn't actually that important to you, that you are prepared to answer your phone or respond to a message, rather than give your full attention to the person with whom you are meeting.
That's just one small example. But there is one thing he said which really resonated with me, and it was this;
"When you don't have your phone, you kind of just enjoy the world."
My phone, as a business tool at least, is important to me. Being available for clients is one of the key selling points of my business. My clients know that if I don't answer their call, I'll be getting back to them within a few hours, as soon as my meeting is finished usually, and always on the same day.
So when I went on holiday for two weeks it was difficult for me to let go of the concept of being on call. But I did need a holiday. So I planned one. I booked one. I told my clients well in advance. I put in place an emergency plan so they could contact someone in my absence, then I turned my phone off and went on holiday, so I left the phone off for two weeks, locked in the safe in the villa.
The world didn't end, there were no emergencies, and when I got back my clients asked me whether I had a nice holiday. Me being out of contact for two weeks didn't cause any problems whatsoever, and I learned an important lesson.
But the reason why the above quote about not always having your phone resonated with me is that I have personal experience of it. You see there was another interesting and very beneficial by-product of having my phone switched off. Because I had no phone in my pocket, I had no camera in my pocket. In fact I don't possess a camera apart from the one on my phone.
I was staying on a beautiful island with many interesting places to visit and I cannot tell you how liberating it was to arrive at a beauty spot festooned with so many perfect photo opportunities, but without a camera.
I watched every other tourist, without fail, arrive at these amazing places and appear to be viewing them completely through their phone; obsessed with taking as many pictures as possible. Sometimes after doing this they just trudged back to the tour bus or the hire car, in a way that seems to me they hadn't really looked properly. I however felt a sense of grounding and presence at these places which I believe I never would have felt had I, like them, had my camera phone with me.
Another important lesson.
I believe it made my holiday so much better, and let’s face it, who really goes through holiday snaps anyway, apart from to show them to others? Perhaps people are only really taking the pictures to put them online to show all their friends what a lovely time they had.
So remember, next time you’re going to do something amazing, or go somewhere beautiful; don’t take your phone, just kind of enjoy the world.