There’s so much noise in our lives today that it can be hard to recognize our thoughts, hopes, or intuition. Our phones provide easy access to information, entertainment, and work. They also offer a distraction that’s beginning to create a separation among leaders. For some leaders, their phone has them; they are beholden to the technology and cannot break away. While other leaders can resist the lure of checking and scrolling to protect their space to discover, wonder, connect, and engage.
Which type of leader are you? That’s a question I ask myself with concern. I can see how my phone, once a joyful source of quick insights and updates, is becoming a pastime damaging my ability to be fully present with my thoughts and other people.
If you sense your phone might have you, rather than the other way around, here are steps to achieve a better balance:
Stop taking it everywhere. You won’t die without your phone. Yet we carry it with us like it’s vital, life-saving medicine. We live in an interconnected world. That means we are also at risk of being overconnected digitally. Untether yourself by choice. When you head into a nice dinner with your partner, stroll into a museum, or gather to watch a game, leave your phone behind. Get good at going a couple of hours without the quick checks and interruptions. You’ll learn to love the richness of being fully present again.
Consider what you really want. The next time you mindlessly reach for your phone, pause and identify what you are really seeking. Is it clarity in the form of an email? Entertainment from fun videos? Connection from a rapid-fire text exchange? Relief from boredom? Distraction from difficulty? Clarifying your actual needs can help you see other options for satisfaction. Sometimes our phones aren’t the best way to get what we want. We’ve just made them the default.
Bring back what you did before. Can you remember your life before your phone had you? I used to love reading books before bed. How did reading random Apple News updates crowd out that pursuit? I used to navigate around my hometown with ease. Why do I now GPS the grocery store? By recognizing how our phones have snuck into so many aspects of our daily lives, we can discern whether screen time would be helpful or harmful. We know too much of a good thing risks the loss of value. Going back to no-tech ways in some pursuits can allow us to realize the benefits of technology more deliberately.
I’ve been practicing these, and I am noticing a better reality. I no longer miss my phone when it’s not right beside me. I seek it out for a specific action, not just when I want something to do. In those moments of wanting something, I challenge myself to choose what’s best for peace, relationships, and joy.