Stop The Syncing – 5 Steps to Unplugging This Holiday Season

phonesI usually get a little sentimental around this time of year. I think about the days of having just one phone in the house, that was attached to the wall. My mother bought an egg timer to try and cut down on how long we would spend chatting with school friends we had just seen not 30 minutes prior in class. Moving in to adulthood, I swore off getting a cell phone for years. Why did someone need to get in touch with me no matter where I was? Why did I need to make myself that accessible I thought. It wasn’t until around 2003 that I begrudgingly move in to the world of mobile phones.

Think about how much phones have changed even in the last 10 years. A Blackberry was really the only device you could use in 2002 that you could also view your e-mails on. Never mind having apps of any kind! Now you can pretty much work from your phone should you need or choose too. I use my phone for e-mail, for my calendar, my shopping list, playing music and beating my family members in Wordfeud! I feel lost without it!

Being ‘in touch’ and accessible is great right? Or is it. If you are in business today you probably check your e-mails on your phone throughout the day. But do you ever truly switch off? Do those e-mails still coming through at 8, 9 or even 10 at night get checked and even responded to in your ‘off hours’? We all have deadlines to meet, and there are times when we might be expecting a critical e-mail, but all work and no LIFE makes Jack a dull boy.

Use your phone to your advantage. With the holiday season right around the corner, what better time is there to evaluate how much time you are spending with your device. Here are a few suggestions on how ease up on your cell phone usage and get back to what is important in life after work, your family and friends. I have an Android device, so any app suggestions are from Google Play, but no doubt you can find the same or similar in the iPhone app store, BlackBerry App World and other app libraries.

  1. E-mails: – yes, by all means set up your work e-mail to come through on your phone. Your job may even require it. But, if you work at your desktop or laptop all day, do you really need the notifications on your phone at the same time? It doesn’t make sense does it! Instead, set your sync schedule to manual so you are making a forced, conscious effort to check your e-mail each time. Alternatively you can set a peak schedule to only have your e-mail sync on certain days at certain times as needed. Great to have them stop in the evening so you can actually switch off, unwind and spend quality time at home.
  2. Silence Those Noises: – so let’s say you ignore my last suggestion. Megan you say, I can’t possibly NOT have my e-mails coming through. Or, you do make that change, but still have a million other things on your phone making notification noises (Twitter, Facebook, Games etc.). Sleep is the number 1 thing that can help us achieve great health, success and give us energy throughout the day. Make sure you have the sound turned down on your phone at night. A great app I use is Timeriffic. This allows me to set different profiles for when I am at home, working in the office, or at the weekends. You can also determine which sounds to turn up or down, which allows for important calls to make it through and ring, but all other notifications to remain silent. I can also turn Wifi on and off at certain times should I choose. Set it all once, and don’t think about it again!
  3. Leave Your Phone: – I am not talking about leaving it at the bar, just leave it in a different room every once in a while. If you have twitchy fingers and always want to be checking your phone, make a conscious effort to leave it upstairs while you are eating dinner or watching T.V. downstairs. How many times have you been out for a meal with someone that leaves their phone right next to them? Doesn’t make you feel all that important does it? Your partner or kids might be feeling the same. So, make an effort, even if it is just for an hour before you dash upstairs to check it again!
  4. Moderate The Notifications – moderate the number of apps that you set up to have notifications sent. Perhaps I need to heed my own advice on this one. I just checked and I have notifications for the following: TweetDeck, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, Wordfeud, Google Talk, WhatsApp, Skype, LinkedIn, Google+, Gmail and of course regular e-mail and calendar events. Ding, ding, ding! That is all I hear sometimes. So, be ruthless and decide which apps you NEED to get notifications from, and which you can live without.
  5. Implement a ‘no cell phone’ day in your house. Even if you turn off all apps, and only accept phone calls, the chance to un-chain yourself from the device can make a huge difference. Take out a board game, go see a movie, or heaven forbid – talk to someone face to face! 🙂

I think a time when I felt most liberated from my cell phone was during a week long cruise a few years ago. Both my husband and I turned off our phones as soon as we boarded the ship. It was fantastic! I hope during this holiday season you are able to relax, turn off your phone and just enjoy spending time with loved ones. Would love to hear your comments or any more ideas we can all implement. Share them below!

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