Perspective from Sandi Goldfarb: I inadvertently left my mobile phone at work the other night. My first reaction was panic. How would anyone be able to find me? How could I be responsive to clients and co-workers without my iPhone at the ready? And then I remembered Arianna Huffington’s words of wisdom at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce event. A few colleagues and I had recently heard …
I inadvertently left my mobile phone at work the other night. My first reaction was panic. How would anyone be able to find me? How could I be responsive to clients and co-workers without my iPhone at the ready? And then I remembered Arianna Huffington‘s words of wisdom at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce event.
A few colleagues and I had recently heard Huffington speak about her new book, Thrive, which focuses on the healing benefits of sleep, the importance of balancing our work and home lives, the value social relationships over social media and the need to end our addiction to electronic devices. That night, I had the perfect excuse to test-drive her theories.
When I arrived home I emailed my husband and daughter to let them know they could reach me on our landline which is metaphorically covered in dust and cobwebs. And then I moved on. I logged off my laptop and closed the lid.
Instead of scrolling through emails and responding like one of Pavlov’s dogs to the ping of incoming messages, I listened to NPR while cooking dinner. I read the newspaper, not the dot com facsimile, the real print edition. I watered the green shoots emerging in the garden and talked to my neighbor.
Today, people carry their mobile phones like religious talismans, afraid to put them away during meals, at ball games or while driving. Many people walk around with phones pressed to their ears like beachcombers trying to hear the ebb and flow of the ocean in a conch shell. Others keep their cell phones on their nightstands or under their pillows which must confuse the hell out of the Tooth Fairy. With all that nocturnal beeping it’s no wonder we’re all tired.
Once at a fundraiser I witnessed a colleague, head bowed hands clasped, during the invocation. I was taken by this humble gesture until I realized that he was actually texting. Using humor, research and common sense advice, Ms. Huffington reminded me that I don’t have to be that person. And she isn’t the only one encouraging a retreat from the rat race. Many companies are instituting a “no email after hours” policy to allow staff a brief but reinvigorating respite from work.
Clearly, those of us in client service industries have to work a little harder to find the right balance. I try to focus on messages that are urgent or time sensitive and leave the others until morning. “Try” being the operative word here. In addition, unless I have something to contribute to an e-conversation, I avoid the “reply all” option, one of the worst inventions in modern history.
I hope my forced withdrawal from my mobile device will continue, one day at a time. And with apologies to Dr. Timothy Leary, I invite you to join me in this quest. So whenever you can, please, turn off, tune out, drop in.