Unplugging From Your Phone Is More Rewarding When It’s A Choice

I was able to cross off an item on my bucket list this week, as I was fortunate enough to attend The Masters in Augusta GA. It was everything I dreamed of and more.

Before I even went to Augusta, I knew the rules stated that I was not allowed to bring my mobile phone to any tournament play.

That disappointed me. I wanted to bring my mobile phone into the park and take photos of all my golfing idols.

smartphone in purse
(Photo: Veranoverde via Getty Images)

It is fascinating to me how quickly we’ve become addicted to a small piece of electronics. They’ve only become mobile pieces of life for a little over a decade now, yet so much as changed in the way we communicate because of them.

What was an added bonus was the fact that no one had his or her phone with them. That became a wonderful accident from my perspective. When you don’t have your phone, you become a different person. This is a good thing for a lot of people right?

I challenge everyone to see if they can go a week without touching their cell phone. Without having it in their purse or bag for emergencies, without checking to see if anyone has called, without even turning it on.

It might be harder than you realize.

I wasn’t worried about not having access to my telephone, email or social media. I really wasn’t. While I typically have it everywhere with me (although not in the bedroom), I wouldn’t have considered myself addicted to it.

I’ve come to realize that I am.

(Photo: Andresr via Getty Images)

Since I had no choice, I was able to put it away. I didn’t check it at the gate; I didn’t even leave it in the car. I left it at the hotel, off.

Here is what I noticed:

To be honest, there is a lot of waiting time in golf. And as much as it looks like we must always whisper or stop talking altogether during golf, there is a lot of chatting time.

We met people from all over the world. It was easy to engage in conversation as everyone around was also looking to engage with others. People wanted to chat, and what a pleasure it was not to feel as if you were disturbing them by chatting.

I travel constantly. My job gives me the ability to meet people from all corners of the world each day. What I do notice is that most people don’t want to engage with others. They want to engage with their mobile phone, their social media apps, or their work. When you speak to a stranger, generally it feels very much as if you are interrupting them.

When everyone was forced to communicate with those around them instead of the virtual world, it was natural, easy, and fun to strike up conversations with others. I felt that I had connected with others who shared the same passion. I was at The Masters with 35,000 new friends instead of 35,000 strangers.

Not a single person bumped into me walking the wrong way

How many times a day are you bumped into by someone who has his or her face in their mobile device instead of looking where they are going?

With 35,000 people walking around a golf course, all going in different directions, you would expect that you’d get steamed over more than once right? Not once.

Not once. That’s a miracle, right? People watched where they were going. They smiled at you when you made eye contact and most even said hello.

I didn’t feel like an obstacle in the street. Instead, I felt like a person.

That’s a nice feeling that you typically don’t get in public places anywhere.

I saved time by not even bringing it with me

At the end of the day, you can pick up your checked mobile device (so that you don’t have to leave it in your hot car or leave it at home) from a secure spot onsite. I didn’t bring mine with me at all, so I didn’t check it.

Sadly the line-ups of people who did check their phone (as they couldn’t wait until they got home to see what was going on in the outside world), had to wait in long lines at the end of each (very long) day to pick up their phone. I saved myself hours of time by just not bringing it with me.

As much as I wanted my phone to take those close-up shots of the winner — the hole in one, the legends of the game — I realized that if I had, I would feel the need to share those experiences with the outside world through text, email and social media.

I would have been chatting with those not with me about the players, the shots, the energy, instead of enjoying every possible second of it while it was happening and chatting with others who had the same experience. I was connecting with others through these shared experiences.

When putting your mobile device away is a choice, it becomes harder. When we know that looking up the answer to a question with your mobile device is easy and we still decide not to do it, we have made progress. The harder it is to stay away from you phone for a week, the more reward you will feel.

Most of us have rules about our phones. No phones at the dinner table. No phones in the bedroom. No phones while flying, driving, or walking.

Instead of a rule, let’s make a choice. Let’s choose not to touch a cell phone for any reason for a week. If your cell phone is your emergency number, then create a voice mail message giving the caller a different phone number to call instead.

Let’s decide to make connections with people, situations and experiences, and see how much better life is.

Rhonda Scharf HeadshotConsultant, Speaker, Trainer and Author who works with organizations to save time, money and sanity.


As appeared in the huffingtonpost on 11 April, 2017.

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