Feeling stressed. Restless. Feeling like you’re running behind constantly. Not sleeping well. Being snappy with your kids.

We are far too busy these days. But in some way this busy-ness is created by ourselves. By our Fear of Missing Out. And the assumption we have to respond and reply to everyone and everything instantly. The feeling we need to be up to date on what everyone is up to all the time.

I’m talking about our cellphones obviously. Such an awesome invention. It enables us to work wherever and whenever we want. We can order online while we wait for the train. Look for recipes in the supermarket. Check what time the bus leaves at the station. What is the shortest way to your appointment. Everything can be done while we’re commuting or waiting.

At the same time, I sometimes wish it was never invented. It enables us to work wherever and wherever we want. So that’s what we do. The first thing when we get up. Not just that, we are expected to be responsive to everything all the time.

Pushing the swing while you scroll through your timeline

You have gotten used to having entertainment at the touch of a finger so much, you have lost the

ability to do nothing. Every free moment you reach for your phone; check Facebook, any new mail, did he reply to my Whatsapp? You don’t see your kids playing in the playground anymore. You push the swing while your scroll through your timeline.

And it bleeps, vibrates, pings, the screen lights up all the time…

No surprise this makes you feel stressed and restless, is it? And that it causes you to sleep less.

It is time for real attention!

It is time for doing nothing. I’m a big believer. Just do nothing for a while. Because it is time for some peace and quiet. Less stress. Real attention. Because to really listen to another person, to look each other in the eye, to have real attention for someone, it’s the best gift you can give.

So who’s in?

My tips for more peace and quiet and less stress in your life:

  1. the main cause of stress and restlessness are the notifications you get from the apps installed on your phone. Facebook likes, retweets, Instagram followers, the latest news, new e-mails. Turn notifications off. I only get notifications from texts and Whatsapps. And of course my phone rings. All other notifications I turned off. So no more endless notifications in my screen, nor constant bleeping.
  2. turn off your phone when you’re working. Or at least turn off the sound. All distractions have caused many of us to not be able to focus and concentrate anymore. You might also consider doing this when you’re having a conversation with a friend. To give him or her your undivided attention.
  3. check your e-mail on fixed moments and just once or twice a day. Same goes for Facebook, Twitter etc. There is no need to respond instantly. There is no harm in letting people wait for a couple of hours. To manage expectations, you might consider installing an auto-reply letting people know you only read your e-mail at a certain time and you will respond within 2 days, for instance.
  4. put your phone on airplane mode when you’re in bed. Your bed is for sleeping. If you cannot resist the urge to check your phone, this is the way to fix it. Your alarm still works by the way. And if you don’t trust this, you might just set an old-fashioned alarm clock.
  5. don’t reach for your phone out of habit. When I’m in the playground with my kids, that is what I do. I’m not checking my phone. It’s the perfect way to sneak in some quiet time. Besides that, imagine how weird it must be for a child to have his mother (or father) look at a screen all the time? And is that the example you want to be for a child? That it’s normal to be attached to a screen constantly?
  6. plan offline weekends. This is perfect when you’re going on a weekend hiking for instance. At home it might be tricky to do this, to escape the normal routine. But if you’re going hiking, bring a book and go offline. Very soothing for the soul, you will come back refreshed.
  7. delete Facebook, Twitter, e-mail apps from your phone. Just use it on your laptop. Use your phone for just calling and texting.
  8. get yourself an old-fashioned cellphone. One you can just call and text with. Which is, a phone 😉

What’s your relationship with your cellphone? Which one of the tips are you willing to try?

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