Several weeks ago, through a series of subtle and not-so-subtle messages from different sources, an intervention was made into my life. I was confronted with how much my smartphone was controlling me.
It started at a dinner with my family. Then, the next day my leader said something to all of us about how he was making some changes in how he allowed his phone to interrupt his schedule. Then, I noticed a video on social media that spoke to the ways constant phone use diminishes our conversations and communication. Then, lastly an article crossed my path that really got me to thinking about it seriously because, as I was reading it, my phone kept going off.
“This is ridiculous.” And the intervention was complete.
So, here are a few of the changes I’m making. Maybe one or two of these could help you too.
1. My phone stays in my office when I go to meetings.
Nothing says, “You’re not that important to me” more to another person than laying your phone on a table or looking at it every five minutes while meeting with someone. It is rude, and I have stopped doing it. I’ve discovered I can actually hear what they are trying to say to me without my phone demanding my attention.
2. My phone is not present during meals.
I find I can actually enjoy the company, especially my wife or kids, when I’m not constantly looking at the phone. And, if I have it with me, that’s exactly what I do. If I have a call that I am expecting, I’ll inform my wife and wait until the call is over before I join the meal. If possible, she will delay serving it until I am done. But, only in a critical situation will I take a call or check an email at meal time.
3. My phone does not come to worship services, Bible study, or prayer time.
“But, what if something happens and the sound guy needs to tell me something?” He can find me. I’m not reachable by phone around worship times and he knows that. In my Bible study at home, I want my phone to be powered off or in the other room.
4. My phone is parked at the end of my work day.
My goal is to walk in, put my phone in the charging deck, and not look at it again until right before I go to bed. Sometimes I’ll “glance” at it in passing (I’m a work in progress), but it is not on my person through the evening.
5. My phone is not with me when I’m relaxing.
Recently, I took some time off. I told my team if they had an emergency to contact a particular person who knew where I was. I set up an “out of office” email message that said my wife had my phone and then gave the number of who to call with something urgent.
As it turns out, something urgent did come up. But, the world kept right on spinning until I was able to be brought up to speed later. And, I really enjoyed being off work for those few days.
A Final Thought for Leaders
When I made these changes, I told my leaders about it. I informed them that I did not expect them to be available to me 24/7 and that I was not going to be available to them that way either. It turns out that I’m not nearly as important as I have made myself out to be because not one issue has emerged from this change. And, several of them thanked me later.
I have not arrived, yet. But, I am determined to stop before my smartphone makes me any dumber.
Do you need an intervention too?
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.