I heard about a restaurant today that pays its customers to lock away their mobile phones during service to create a serene and peaceful eating environment. I am one of those people who would probably pay to be able to keep their phones with them at all times. There is always news or sporting results to keep a track of and no lunch or dinner usually gets in the way of that.
I recognise that I am nowhere near as addicted as I used to be to the technology that if we’re not careful can enslave us, especially to the office, emails and work contacts. That said, I got a reminder today about that feeling of being dominated by a need to keep in touch with emails and a near obsessive desire to keep refreshing to see if the awaited email has landed.
Dr J, Miss J and I are in the middle of a house move – due to exchange any day (now looks like tomorrow) and to compete and move next week. We have been waiting for confirmation from our solicitor that everything is in place to exchange – the much anticipated email. I found myself today unable to resist the temptation to keep checking and rechecking emails; refreshing; closing emails; reopening emails; moving between folders; locking and unlocking my phone. It reminded me – not in a good way – some of my former behaviour, when I lived and breathed my work and was attached to my phone like a drug addict is clinging to their dealer. I also felt some of the physical symptoms today of the anxiety and stress that was with me throughout much of my career – certainly my PwC days. That sickly feeling in my stomach; the unpleasant feeling that something wasn’t right; the heavy weight on the chest. Looking back now, it all feels necessary and embarrassing.
I am a huge believe in technology as a force for good and tools to make life easier and an aide to work life balance. The problem is never the technology but the user. I proved again today that it is too easy to fall into bad habits when you are worried or anxious about something and to use technology as a barrier to wellbeing not an enabler of it. Next time I’m in this position I may have to resort to some cold turkey – just put the phone away and take some deep breaths. Now that would be refreshing.
The photo is taken from outside The Quarter in Liverpool – after teaching today at Liverpool John Moores University I got the major bonus of being able to meet my wonderful wife for lunch in one of our favourite places. Happy times.