Permission to be disturbed

Before, only before

Before the invention of the landline phone, you’d have to decide to go out and place a call outside the building, otherwise, you would not be reached.

Before the invention of the mobile phone, you would not be called outside of the times you were either at home or work.

Before the invention of the iPhone, notifications were not so present in our lives.

Before the invention of the smartwatch, notifications were not vibrating on your wrist.

What’s next? Before the invention of the notification chip in our brain, we did not have notifications sent directly to our brains?

Bit by bit, we have put the phone, watch or more generally any outside input at the heart of every moment of our lives.

First and last action of the day

We wake up by hearing a ringtone from the phone.

The first thing we do is to check the newsfeed or the social media feed.

During the day, we leave the phone on vibration or ringtone mode. No matter our current action, should it be a work we’re doing, a meeting with someone or a group of people, we are letting ourselves be interrupted by the phone: we check the notification, read a message, open the email inbox, answer a call.

Before going to bed, we set-up the alarm on the phone, and check the social media feed one last time.

Giving unlimited permission to be disturbed

What we have essentially done is give them permission to be disturbed to any outside signal from what do matters, the present task.

By letting our phone us when to be opened, interacted with, we are enslaving ourselves to its decisions.

If you were in a meeting with the President of your country, would you check the notifications on your phone? Maybe not, or maybe yes…

The importance you give to your current task

If you consider that the work you’re doing matters, that your current action will better serve your client if done well and thoroughly, if you believe that the person you’re meeting really matters, what do you think that this work or this person actually mean, when you let yourself be disturbed by a notification of a newsfeed or social media feed?

It essentially means that the like you receive on Instagram, or the cat that was found with sunglasses drinking a martini has more importance than the person or the task you’re dealing with at that time.

Picking up the phone on a one to one meeting means that the call you receive is more important than that person you’re talking to.

The question is, what do you want to give the most value and importance to? Your phone, or your present task or meeting?

A one week challenge

To feel how much we are addicted and stuck to our phone, I propose the following challenge, for one week:

  • Leave the phone on mute, no matter what. If a call is urgent, the ring tone will be activated automatically at the second attempt, as on most Android and all iPhones,
  • Leave the phone on plane mode one hour before you go to bed
  • Turn off the plane mode when you leave from home
  • During the day, check your phone at the end of the morning, after lunch, and before leaving work,
  • When you arrive at home in the evening, check once, then check a second time before you turn on the plane mode. Only personal items, no work items,
  • When I say check, I mean 5 min max to see what has happened and answer quickly to the most pressing messages.

That is all you need for a week. Do you think it is difficult? That is will be straining? Leave a comment below before and after the challenge.

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