Imagine this: you're sitting outside, on the end of a pier facing into Lake Michigan. You're so far out on the water that you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. You came out here with the intention of taking a few minutes of time to yourself, watching the waves roll in and out. The sun is going down, and it's starting to paint the sky a myriad of hues from pink to blue, passing through oranges and purples. They reflect on the surface of the water and in this moment, you are safe and surrounded by abundance.
And then you notice: you're on your phone scrolling through Instagram and you have NO IDEA how you got there. You notice because you see another photograph of a friend having something you want (say: getting married, having a newborn, falling in love, celebrating a promotion, celebrating a move....etc) and you're suddenly sad for yourself.
Come on!! Just a moment ago, you were content and observing the beauty of Nature - which you never really take the time to do - and you mindlessly ended up on your phone. So you close the app, and realize that you've now got a little red notification button on your work email that says you've got 30+ unanswered messages.
Now, you try to force yourself back to being mindfully where you are - but that little red button is saying "But what if the work-world is ending? What if there's a work-emergency and I am ignoring it right now?" And you start to go down that anxiety-train of: "How dare I take this time for myself when there is work to do?"
So now you've gone from contentedness, to sadness, to anxiety and guilt (on your day off) - all because your little pocket-computer dictated it to you.
I'm sharing this with you because it happened to me. And, in that moment I decided I wouldn't let that little piece of technology dictate my feelings, nor would I allow myself to be mindlessly drawn to it any longer. It was time to start putting boundaries on myself.
It's super easy to allow work and responsibilities and to-do lists to draw you away from where you are. It's the analytical mind's job to find excuses not to allow you to give back to yourself. So, it's up to you to take ownership of this and change it.
Here are the steps to take to get started:
- Take all the apps off your home-screen (move them to a second screen) and replacing the bottom 4 icons with your necessities that DO NOT NOTIFY YOU of anything. I chose my calendar, my maps, my alarm clock and my music! This causes you to have to THINK about what you're doing on your phone when you pick it up.
- Make your background something pretty, because you can see it now!
- Turn off notifications for your work-related apps like Asana/Basecamp, and your Work Email (get a separate app for this than the "Mail" app). Also, turn off notifications for Social Media apps like Facebook and Instagram.
- Buy an alarm clock that is NOT your phone and plug it in overnight in another place so you can take your morning without temptation. If we check our phones (email, Facebook, etc) first thing in the morning, before we have a chance to ground ourselves, we are immediately in a reactive mindset, rather than a proactive mindset. I love this alarm clock from Amazon.
- Once you wake up from your sweet new alarm clock, set your three tasks for the day. Write them down somewhere- these can be work or personally related. Once those three tasks are done, YOU are done. Give yourself permission to use your newfound open time to do something leisurely for yourself. Make a side-list of things you like to do - take walks, read a book, learn a new instrument.....have it handy so you don't just fall into the Netflix binge.
I have felt so so so so so much saner since I put these boundaries on my work-life balance, and I hope you do too! Comment below to let me know what you think and how it's worked for you!