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Posts Tagged ‘Phone addiction’

As already stated, I think the main culprits for lack of time/busyness/overwhelm is mostly phone addiction and trying to live up to certain expectations. So why don’t I just – you know – put my phone down more, and do less stuff?

Well, I’m going to go back to something that more than one person has put forward as a theory, and is a little controversial – I think because it hurts feelings – but I think goes down to the heart of the issue, at least for me. The proposed theory is that, ultimately, we are all too busy because we need to look important. And I rolled my eyes at that at first. But the more times I heard it, the more it niggled at me (YES, that’s a real word!). So many things I do – hobbies, keeping up with people, trying to know what’s on the news 24/7 – there is no doubt a lot of that does have to do with actual desire to know and enjoyment – but – I began to realize a lot of it actually is based on the desire to shape others’ perception of me – kind of like my perfection issue I posted about a while back.

I had a moment just the other night where the statements I just made in the previous paragraph came to life. I was out shopping with a friend – she had been in a wedding the weekend before, and I had been invited to the wedding, but declined. Now, I feel my decline was legitimate – I’d been to two different states in just the previous week and a half and this would have involved a third, and it was one of the first weekends yet this year where I wasn’t preparing for visitors or something – but I still felt kind of bad for declining because, technically, I could have done it. I would just have had to postpone my dentist appointment and be willing to pay for a hotel – it was a drivable distance, so no flight.

So, as I explained again, probably needlessly, to my friend why I hadn’t gone, I found myself struggling to come up with verbiage to sound busy. I had an appointment, plus a church thing the night before – it was just all so busy. Yup, literally the words I used. And as I spoke them, I realized exactly what I was doing. I was using the word busy to make it seem like I just had so much going on I couldn’t handle another thing, when in actuality, I just needed a break. And yes, I did end up having a lot going on that day – I went to my appointment, then we met a couple for lunch, and went shopping for my wardrobe refresh, plus church on Sunday, and more shopping – I got home pretty late both nights – so it isn’t like I was sitting at home. But you know what? All those things I did? They were my choice. I had chosen to do those things instead of 1. Go to the wedding and 2. Stay home and rest. It wasn’t that I was “too busy” to go – it was that I had chosen to do other things instead.

And, it further occurred to me that it was both dishonest and self-focusing to boil it down to “It is just so busy.” Yes, I had all those epiphanies in a matter of a few awkward seconds of quiet. So, I corrected myself. “I take it back – it wasn’t busy. It was just pure laziness – I didn’t feel like going.” And you know what? She didn’t yell at me, and I don’t think she even judged me. And I felt like I was actually being honest not just with her, but with myself. It felt like a major breakthrough to be able to verbally say I wasn’t busy – I had just chosen to do something else. I also immediately started judging myself for being too lazy and thinking of all the different things I should have, could have, would have. But you know – I think that was actually really important – for me to realize in my journey toward not feeling so “busy” that what I chose that weekend was actually a choice and I was out doing things of my choice that, yes, involved me being out all day – but wasn’t just busy for the sake of busy. I don’t know – I feel like I’m not explaining this super well.

I guess what I think I’m trying to get at is – due to social media, work, and perfectionism, I expect a lot from myself, I want to prove myself to both myself and others, and I fear others’ opinions. I get overwhelmed and busy because I am always trying to live up to those expectations and because I feel like there is a modern expectation to be busy – have you spoken to anyone in the last decade who didn’t respond with “busy” when asked how they were? – which I think is fueled both by the desire to hold up to unrealistic standards and so I don’t feel less important than someone else who is talking about everything they are doing. I add to my own business by constantly trying to get the best deals and therefore heaping “shadow work” on myself, and try to combat all the constant pressure and decision fatigue by mindlessly scrolling through my phone so I don’t have to think about it too deeply – which, ironically, also adds to my own perception of being too busy.

If I want to redeem my own time I think I need to reshape the way I think and act. So, here are my goals (because you all know I am a list person):

  1. Be willing to be second best at work – do my best as a Christian without having to be the person people always come to for help (because, yes, I do struggle with that desire)
  2. Be willing to accept “good enough” decisions on things like travel, and online shopping, and things like that so I don’t spend hours researching those things and become exhausted making all those decisions.
  3. Be willing to miss out on some things – don’t constantly check my phone, e-mail, or social media for missed calls, texts, posts, updated news, and other things that eat away at my time, energy, and self-confidence.
  4. Purposefully take time away from my phone and other electronics to pursue my old loves (reading, writing, etc.). Set the phone down when with friends and family – including when watching movies with them.
  5. Stop myself from saying the word “busy” and instead recount what I am actually doing with my life when asked to acknowledge that the things I am doing are my choices and not the choice of some mythical “busy” being.

I have high hopes for the future, guys! Thanks for listening while I talk through all my issues, and please pray for me as I work to redeem my time.

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And then there are our phones. Oh, our phones. Those blessed, cursed, brilliant, soul-sucking devices. This little piece of plastic that stays near you at all times is, I feel, really at the bottom of all that I wrote before, and all I continue to write, and all the articles in the world that address being too busy.

So here is the thing that all my reading both told me and made me realize (after telling me multiple times). Phones keep us connected to work, meaning we are technically available 24/7 and occasionally peeking at it to make sure we aren’t missing anything “important”. They keep flashing news at us, keeping us constantly updated on the state of the world. And they connect us to social media. Which, I have been told and learn more and more, is a great way to keep up with family and friends on our own time, in our own way, without actually connecting with them. Not to mention all the pressure I wrote about in the last post.

As said in the shadow article, “And while we were formerly forced to largely work during regular work hours and shop during regular business hours, technology allows us to produce and consume 24/7. We never fully clock out from our “real” jobs, nor do we ever fully take a break from the marketplace. Even when we’re not actively engaging in shadow work, in the back of our mind there’s that ever-present niggling: Is there something I need to buy? Is there something going on I should know about? Should I check my phone? We’re always “on” and constantly mentally switching between roles.”

So, I recently spent a day away from my phone. A full 24+ hours. The number of times I reached for it was insane. The previous note was so true on constantly switching roles, constantly deciding whether to do something with my phone, stopping myself from doing it – it is exhausting and energy-draining.

But the life and energy I felt when I suddenly had so much more time in the afternoon and, even with the desire to check my phone, the pressure to check it being gone? It was almost exhilarating.

Hannah Brencher, author of Come Matter Here had an enlightening series of blog posts about social media burnout and phone addiction. And her article really got me thinking. She said, basically, you have burnout if you have the following symptoms:

  1. You’re constantly checking your phone (There is nothing more enlightening on this point than taking a day away from your phone – believe me. I just did it, as I mentioned)
  2.  You are avoiding your feelings (remember the comment I made about curling up on the couch avoiding what I thought I should be doing? Also goes for when I’m frustrated, or stressed, or don’t want to make a decision, or anything else.)
  3. You are not loving what you used to love (this point really spoke to me – you should read her description of it)
  4. You aren’t present anymore (You know all those friends who scroll through their phones while you are watching a movie “together”? Oh, wait – maybe that’s me . . .)
  5. You just don’t care as much (So true. I am starting to roll my eyes at all the “causes” out there. I don’t even want a cause anymore because I am always exposed to so much stuff on the internet that I can’t handle it anymore)
  6. You’re worshipping the pressure to be more (I already talked about this a lot previously).

So, the result of all this is – I’ve decided that my phone is the biggest culprit of my overwhelmed feelings, my lack of motivation, my loss of direction in life, and the feeling I will never be enough. Therefore, I’ve decided one day off my phone wasn’t enough and I am going to make it a goal to do phone-free-Fridays. I am going to try to take every Friday off my phone – and I know that isn’t realistic and won’t always be the case. But even if I take two Fridays a month, I think my life will be better.

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I went to a Bible camp when I was . . . mm, probably like 16. It was a week-long of chapels, seminars, prayer time, etc. There is one thing that sticks out in my mind from that time over 15 years ago. It is a seminar called Redeeming the Time. He spoke on how to better use your time. The only thing I actually remember him saying is that you shouldn’t use alarm clocks because if you were woken by an alarm clock then you weren’t getting enough sleep. He obviously works for himself. I still use an alarm clock. I could never get to work on time without one, no matter what he says. I don’t remember anything else he said, except that I was mesmerized by the idea of redeeming the time. Using my time wisely, better, and doing more.

I apparently still have a fascination for time, because lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research into the subject of being overwhelmed lately. And by research, I mean when I have a moment and a thought occurs to me, I’ll do google searches, and I (sort of) read a book called “Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time.” And I occasionally go on spurts of reading articles on related subjects. Anyone who has been reading my blog longer than this post is probably currently tilting their head wondering why. After all, I am a career woman with a hobby of writing, living in the city with a 10-20 minute commute, and it’s just me and my husband – no children, no yard work, not even family in the area, and, yes, I even have maids come in to clean my apartment on a biweekly basis (courtesy of my new job/raise). Why on earth would I, of all people, need to read about being overwhelmed?

Well, let me tell you. Because despite the fact that there is no earthly reason for me to be one of the rat race runners who feel like they never have a chance to breathe, I feel like I am. I feel like I am always rushing to the next thing, like I don’t have time for work, writing, exercising, hobbies, seeing people, cleaning, laundry. I write and re-write to-do lists and schedules and yet, I can’t figure out how to fit it all in. How on earth do moms do it? People with families in the area? Those who have sports, or classes, or church commitments, or any of the other numerous obligations that most people in America do and I don’t? So, I figured I was going about something terribly wrong.

I think I really started looking into this when I happened upon an article that mentioned how, every time you asked how someone was, it was almost guaranteed they would answer in some synonym of the word, “Busy.” Which, struck me right at the heart – because, I’m pretty sure that is my automatic response too. Anyway, I’ll tell you the conclusions to my ramblings first – what I now believe are the primary reasons for the “rushed” feeling that I always feel.

  1. Phone addiction
  2. Trying to live up to specific, usually unrealistic standards (whether your own or someone else’s)

I’m going to take the next few days to go a little bit more in depth into what I’ve taken away from my research. This was going to be a single blog post, but when I copied it into a word document at it registered at 4 (now up to 8) pages, I realized my husband was right when he suggested making it a series. You can read the rest of the posts as you so choose, but don’t feel like you have to, since I’m pretty sure it’s just me brain dumping everything to better think through it all.

Busy

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