Mobile phones

Unplug yourself

6:26 PM

Keep yourself productive by keeping your smartphone on silent mode.

Imagine a day when you wake up and have big ideas, a lot of work and the drive to get this Epic creative thing going.

You start your day right, with a big breakfast, go for a power walk to get your energy flowing, down the right amount of caffeine and feel ready to tackle it all.

Oh yeah! Bring the Epic crap on baby! I'll rock this day!

You sit at your desk with your to-do list that involve a couple of things to do on the computer before moving to more artistic work.
5 minutes into it, your phone bleeps. You check it. It's one of the million WhatsApp groups you are involved in that comes to life. You mute it and go back to what you set yourself to do.

10 minutes later, you muted a few more groups on your phone because no you really don't care about all those "Good Morning" memes that hog storage space on said phone.
Thinking of meme, suddenly has you run a Google search for "motivational memes" that end up going nowhere...except wasting a solid 30 minutes of your time...all because WhatsApp distracted you in the first place.

You come back to your senses, rein yourself in, and go back to the task at hand...YAY!

Just as quickly as you got that drive back, the doorbell rings with its usual stream of "something-wallah" who want your trash, your clothes, or you to pay a bill of one kind or another.
Those you can't really mute, so you interrupt yourself for them even if they came to your home at 10 am with the assumption that if someone opens the door that means this someone has nothing important to do in their day.

You get back to work, only for your god damned phone to bleep again. This time it is your Facebook friend saying hi.
Because you are at home and Messenger on the phone pretty much sucks, you log in to Facebook on your computer...and poof! The epic plans for some super duper productive creative stuff has vanished...for good.
It's past 11am, you are scrolling through your feeds liking every cat videos and meme it has to offer all the while chatting with your friend.

What was it you had in mind to do when you woke up?

You decide to log off because you feel hungry, fix yourself a quick lunch, notice the kitchen is messy, clean it up, move to the living room to eat only to spend more time decluttering than eating (and then watch some TV).
The epic project of the day refuses to come back to your mind and before you know it, it is time to pick up the kids in school, get dinner ready and suddenly remember at 11pm what it was you wanted to do in the first place!


Have you been there?

If you work from home, I can bet that the answer is yes.
Why you may ask? Because I have been there way too many times before I realised that my culprit was my stupid phone and all it's notifications.

But guess what? It's not hopeless, the remedy is actually quite simple, it's called :

Turn off all notifications

I know, it's a crazy idea in our world where we apparently need to be constantly connected to a crowd of friends, colleagues ore acquaintances (if not near strangers).
But dare to do it! I urge you to do it, you have no idea how amazing your day will be. Turning all the notifications down will still let people being able to actually call you (who does that anyway?) and you will be spared the mindless WhatsApp chatter of "Please forward this message a 100 times if you don't want to get bad luck" or "Please tell me what the latest school circular says, I can't find it".

Turning down the phone's notification is just one step less extreme than the "Switch off your phone" trick but equally efficient. 

For extra precaution I even took to not take my phone to my desk. I leave it in the living room where I can still hear it ring should it do so. And then, I can get started on that epic crap I had planned to do in the first place.

There are the distractions you can't really control, but the things that come from your phone are totally manageable, even if society at wide wants you to believe otherwise. 

No you do not have to be accessible by all 24/7!


So, how do you keep yourself from straying away from the task at hand? 

12 comments

  1. Anonymous9:59 AM

    Happy Navaratras to you and family. May these auspicious celebrations of feminine power fill you with creativity. Oh, do visit the Bengali durga pooja celebrations nearby coming Saturday and Sunday. Who knows you might get some new creative ideas.

    If my memory serves me right, the only people had phones at home were the Government servants, because the Government paid the bill. If you had to talk to someone from a different city, you had to book a trunk call and shout at the top of your voice because the line was noisy. From there we have traveled far. Now we can get hold of anybody anywhere. But, there is no longing. No careful use of words in a postcard or letter which reached a few days later. Instant communication also means instant gratification and lack of intimacy.

    We are destined to live in an age where we are digitally near but emotionally far. People cannot write two proper sentences without using weird symbols and abbreviations. We certainly have forgotten the art of conversation.

    I believe we can entangle ourselves from the illusion of the mobile phone easily. We don’t need to interact with the entire world. One only has a few friends and business associates. You should have something to say to the world. We generally don’t have anything special to say unless it our son’s birthday or our marriage anniversary or festivals. For people who have little to say, social media is mostly useless. No exotic foreign holidays, camping in Ladakh, absolutely nothing. The only thing I find useful is keeping contact with my long lost relatives or friends with whom I would not have been able to keep contact.

    Apple

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, wishing you the same.
      It's still raining steady in Mumbai, so unless it stops, going to Durga Utsav is going to be tricky as everything is muddy and damp.

      The thing with smartphones is that it still tap into our deep rooted instinct to respond to an alert and all social medias and what-not have understood this perfectly. If the phone beeps, flashes or vibrate, we WILL pick it up.

      With a landline we would do the same, but back then people understood that if nobody picked it up, that meant nobody was home. With a phone you carry everywhere with you that excuse not to pick up is history.
      And you are right, it's mostly mindless chit chat that distracts one way too easily.

      I keep Facebook to connect with my family because it is convenient to have it all in one place instead of sending various emails with pictures.
      Whatsapp connects me to my friends in the area, they are useful to send party invites, plan gathering, or discuss school related stuff with the whole class rather than endlessly call each parents to know more about a missed homework or even.

      The problem is you always have one or two "WhatsApp Junkie" that will hijack the group to post stupid pictures, jokes and forward hoaxes without checking if they are true or not. And that can get the phone to bleep an insane amount of time in a day, for no good reason at all.

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    2. Anonymous3:26 PM

      It is about creating a demand and then feeding it. We did not need mobiles twenty years ago but now that we have it, we cannot live without it. It also puts pressure at some point that you need to put something about yourself on the facebook. Most of the time, there is nothing special and it kind of makes you feel that you are out of the game. Sometimes an innocent remark turns into a controversy. Its is like a minefield. One does not want to know about the lives of other people but it there, because somebody wants the world to know about them.

      Many youngsters complain that their parents and relatives comment on their pics and address them by their nick names and it creates embarrassment for them. The situation become complicated when their parents see them with the opposite sex, having a good time, because in India interaction is all right but fun, not acceptable. When we were fourteen, the only complication was the maths exam. Now, there is so much to manage.

      Do you know that there is multi million dollar industry of whatsapp and facebook posts. Creative people who churn out these posts and then spread them. This was used in the recently held Lok Sabha elections. They are a big part of campaigning.

      Most of the time, these posts have agendas, political or personal, there is more bickering and hatred in the virtual world, than in the real world. These viral messages have led frequent riots. In a volatile country like India, this like bull in a china shop.

      Apple

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    3. First thing first, let's not blame it all on social medias shall we?

      The very issues of teenagers not being comfortable with parents interfering with their lives and using nicknames is as old as the world simply because the very psychological essence of being a teenager means you rebel against pretty much the entire world. This is part of a healthy human development and has pretty much been the motor that drove our entire evolution with teens thinking they can improve what the old generation did after questioning it. Nothing new there.
      I rebelled against my parents, I questioned their words, and at one point I am pretty sure that the entire world was misunderstanding me and every single atoms it had to offer were ganging up against me. I didn't have Facebook, mobile phones or social medias to put the blame upon, but yeah my mom calling me "ma puce" (my little flea, an affectionate French nickname) would have made me want to go down the seventh level of hell.

      Medias, LONG before they had the word social associated to them were a billion industry. Again, nothing new here, there is not a single source of information in this word that is free, and it hasn't been for decades. The newspapers sell you content that is in line with their brand, sponsors and the wealthy supporters footing the bill. Any media nowadays is about 85% ads and the rest is sponsored content.
      Internet brought us the term "click bait" which refers to content that will lead you to click a link and visit a site. Before Internet, we had headline posters, and paper front pages that prompted you to BUY the newspaper.
      Then on TV there were the news hour (before 24hrs news channel existed) that were all starting by giving you the headlines in order to hook you in to watch the whole new bulletin. They all had catchy titles, and even catchier video snipets to capture the audience attention.

      Those, like the newspaper front page and headlines posters, were created by PAID creatives who KNEW how to market it right in order to get a reaction from the people. And yes depending the newspaper or channel, they were working an angle.
      This is something I earned as a teenager, in middle school as we had a class called "Critical thinking and the media" that was part of the curriculum. It was in 1993, there was no social medias or even widespread Internet to worry about then but the marketing strategies to sell medias to the masses and make them believe every word the ingurgitated were already well in place and had been for many decades...even back then.

      Last but not least, please please PLEASE stop thinking that India is a unique case where political bickering and agendas can lead to riots and hatred.

      This happens WORLDWIDE as we speak: the communal hatred against muslim in Europe, the ban of the burquini, trump's supporter turning violent, mass shooting, bombing in the name of an ideal.

      This kind of crap is fueled by medias and people buying into them without using critical thinking.

      People have thrived on drama, rumors, intrigue, and scandal since the beginning of time. History wrote itself on the back of those bits of scandals that were escalated at the right time and in the right place. Without Twitter, without Facebook, without even a computer, heck it started even before newspaper and Gutenberg inventing mass printing.

      The smartphone and the medias as we know it today are NOTHING but the evolution of an already well established information network that was there all along. It just moved with its time, but like all its predecessor, it still taps into the very deep rooted human instinct that makes one want to be part of the "IN" crowd.

      This evolutionary trait is was helped the human race survived, it has it's pitfall, but let me assure you that NONE of said pitfalls can be blamed on just the social medias.

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    4. And with this lengthy reply, I close this thread, as you must remember this is a BLOG POST and the comment section is not to the treated as an online forum to discuss political and technological rants.
      I do not run a forum here, I managed many on other platforms in my 15 years of online presence. I have no interest running a debate forum, especially not in the comment of what is a lifestyle blog.

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    5. Anonymous8:40 PM

      @cyn

      I wish to apologise if I have misunderstood the thrust of your post. This post if I am not wrong in a limited way was about the effect of social media on daily life. I elaborated it a bit further to incorporate my own experience with the medium and also how it is shaping our world. In doing so I may have stretched it a bit further. No offence meant.

      Apple

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  2. Oh yes! I'm there everyday!
    I have 101 things to do but as soon as Rohan is napping, there I am, scrolling instagram or facebook and then the something-wallah comes, wakes up the baby and the precious time is lost!

    I did spend a lot of time unplugged during my pregnancy and it was refreshing, but it took a long time to stop missing it...then a long time to get back into it.

    Argh, maybe I will schedule some no technology hours throughout the day. So hard when most of my family is the other side of the world!

    Great food for thought <3 xx

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    1. I try to schedule some no technology time after 8pm, not always successfully. I found I get a better night sleep if I limit the screen time a few hours before bedtime.

      In any case, even if I do get screen time past 8pm, it's never blog related, I shut down every blog activity by 8. if there is screen time then, it is likely to be reading an e-book or watching a movie on the iPad.

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  3. I don't really do much on my phone except message my husband, take photos, and occasionally play a game. It's ridiculously expensive & tediously slow to go on the internet via the phone here in Nepal. Half the time just calling someone doesn't work & you get an "all the lines are busy" message anyway. I spent too much time during my 'career' being 'on call' 24 hrs so I don't like being tied to it.
    I do keep the computer on all day & supposedly we have a new IP that's supposed to be 3x faster than the old one - hasn't happened yet. But I do play in online Scrabble tournaments so I have to check in every 2 hrs or so.
    The something-wallahs and the neighbors wanting to pick flowers in my garden for pujas drive me nuts. And yes if I open the gate then they think I've nothing important to do.

    Trying to time my day around light for food photography is proving difficult- 11AM to 2PM the light is too bright. Before 11AM I'm cooking lunch tiffin and usually some dish I want to take a photo of. Then after 2PM I have like 2 hours before the sun is too dim to shoot!
    Oh yes, and I learned this year that doing food photography during the Monsoon is IMPOSSIBLE! The heat, humidity, & rain are not food nor garnish friendly. Wilted dhania & mint sprigs are not pretty! I'll just have to shoot some extra posts during the Winter I suppose.

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    Replies
    1. I've always hated phones, with passion. They disturb my flow of thoughts and I really hate the idea to be accessible all the time. I actually like the convenience of Whatsapp as much as I hate its pitfalls. People can leave me a message and I can reply when I want to reply and make the time to be available to do that kind of thing. It's definitely an introvert thing :-)

      I hear you on the photography thing. My flat is more or less North facing, and during the monsoon it is very difficult to get a decent light to take good pictures. I need to organise myself a bit better on that front and do bulk photography session whenever the light is good because Photoshop can only salvage a bad picture to a certain extent.

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    2. Anonymous10:17 AM

      My wife has a whatsapp group with other school mothers to share homework and other school related stuff. I have often found my whatsapp clogged with unnecessary messages, some political, other moral where you need to react. Some of them are so lengthy. Some of my friends actually get angry that I have not reacted to their stuff. I prefer to delete them otherwise they get downloaded into the phone clogging its memory. I use it sometimes when I have to send some personal pic or documents to send somebody.

      Apple

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    3. Apple, I need to purge my phone of all that whatsapp crap at least once a week. I quit all non-essential groups where people have nothing better than exchange jokes.

      Delete

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