Make Time to Unplug and Put Your Phone Away

I sometimes say starting your own company feels like working on a movie — except you’re the director, producer, lead actor, technician and every other role rolled into one. Plus, you don’t actually know how the last scene will play out.

Since launching my own business, I often look back at the different ‘scenes’ of my life and think: did I make the right choice? And what’s going to happen next?

Over the years, as any entrepreneur will tell you, I’ve had to make some tough choices. Do I stay late at work tonight and miss my son’s next game? Do I plan that weekend getaway my husband and I could really use — even though we have a big work event planned next week?

Then there are the day-to-day decisions that I question: should I follow up with a client on a proposal? Should I schedule that one-on-one to get my account managers up to speed? Should I finally put down my phone, get my hands away from the touchscreen and lift my head up and notice everything going on around me?

It took awhile until I learned to not second guess myself (even when it comes to juggling work and being a mom — there seems to be no way to get over momentrepreneur guilt) and that led me to one of the best things I’ve ever done as an entrepreneur (and mom):

I put away my phone. Every day.

You probably know the cycle. The oh-I’m-just-finishing-up-one-last-email then I’ll go spend time with my husband. The dinner-with-my-kids-can-wait-until-tomorrow; the client can’t. It took a wake up call from my son, who said his wish was that Mommy and Daddy would use their phones less, to get me to realize just how important it is that I look up and put the phone away.


Our new routine

Going from a nine-to-five life to an entrepreneur life involves lots of transitions; the biggest might be having no real start and end to your workday. I’m not working for someone, I’m working for myself — the harder I work, the more successful I can become, the bigger my career can be, the more money I can provide for my family. So if that involves answering a few emails at six a.m. or lying in bed with a laptop, so be it.

Not anymore.

I quickly realized that the typical entrepreneur life wouldn’t cut it for me. So I made a decision to give my workday a definite ending point and that ending point would mean I put away my phone every single night before bedtime. Both my husband’s and my phone never even come upstairs!

The only tech device allowed in our bedrooms is our Kobo eReader and that’s because I’m obsessed with reading on my Kobo before bed and instilling that love of reading to my children.

So what have I noticed since going phoneless in bed?

1. It relieves stress — I used to worry about a never-ending to-do list that made me feel more important and busy than I actually am. When my phone is out of eyesight, I can forget about the things I’m “supposed” to be doing and focus on what’s going on right in front of me.

2. It’s like being back in the good old days — I sometimes joke that I wish the Motorola flip phones would become popular again because it would force us to get away from living every moment of our lives on our phones. For some reason, I think that’s not going to happen anytime soon — so in the meantime, I’ll take matters into my own hands.

3. I can spend time with the people I love! Yes, not by liking their pictures online but by physically talking to them and enjoying their company (revolutionary advice, right?).

4. I’m teaching my kids it’s okay to take time for yourself and to not get caught up in whatever is happening in our alternate online universe. I really love Telus’ unplug campaign which is all about turning off your devices, especially when you’re on the road, and focusing on the people you love and what you’re doing.

Now that it’s back to school time yet again — anyone else swear summer just started? — it’s more important than ever to draw some lines as our days get busier and we get pulled in more directions than we can count.

So why not take a pledge — maybe not every night but at least one night a week — you leave the phone on the kitchen table, head up to bed with your hubby and kids and kiss them goodnight, without worrying about your next meeting, email and project? I promise you’ll love it.


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About Sharon Vinderine