Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Replacing the Pocket Thief

What should I do?

When I got my first cell phone I was driving a thousand miles a week going from one high school to another as an admissions counselor. My cell phone was my lifeline 16 weeks out of the year that I spent on the road. My husband and I had sequential numbers for well over a decade even as we lived in three different states. In Kansas my iphone was my link to the outside world from the farmhouse outside of Lawrence and later it was where I met many Lawrencians I still call friends today. When my husband started working as a consultant in 2012 my cell phone was how I kept in touch with him even as he wandered the globe. Social media was the way I kept in daily contact with friends and family around the world.

All of this changed November 2016. At first I thought I could protect my mental health by just deleting the social media apps. By December I knew that wasn't enough and for Christmas I gave my family the gift of my time and my focus by giving up my smartphone for the next two months. I thought it would be incredibly difficult but I knew I had to change something as I could hardly bear to check my email or any social media app without feeling physical repurcussions. In addition to my hands hurting constantly the news out of the US would raise my blood pressure and lead to headaches and tears.

I switched to a simple 10 key phone in December and have been relying on my kindle for my reading addicton and my laptop for work. My kindle works well for reading books but not so well for social media. My laptop has complete functionality but I don't like to sit for too long so I am less likely to fall into a news junkie/social media rabbit hole. I deeply miss my address book, my electronic calendar, and my camera when I'm out and about, but that's been about it. Most emails are answered when I'm working at the computer, my social media work was already almost always done from my computer, and all my document editing, ghostwriting, and presentations were done from my computer. In short, there's not an insurmountable reason to go back to a smartphone.

Those two months are coming to an end and I'm faced with a decision.  How do I keep the pocket thief from stealing my free time and my happiness? How do I add the productivity of data and an all-in-one device back into my life while keeping the rabbit hole from swallowing my attention?

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