When I started to intentionally live more simply, one of the first changes I made was shutting my phone off in the car. As a very busy woman with a very busy job, I thought I had to be connected all the time… and I was. I would pick my daughter up from school, still on calls or checking email. While she was telling me about her day, I was nodding and half listening while I played back voicemail and thought about what I had to do next. When I started to simplify my life and think about all the things that complicate it, the cell phone was at the top of the list.
I finally realized that while I was worrying about clients and sales goals, I was missing out on the most important part of my life… my daughter. She was sharing things with me and I couldn’t remember half of what she said by the time we got home.
Technology makes us ultra-available, but we have the choice to power down, turn off, and silence the demands on our time. The best place to start is with that little box you toss in your purse, strap to your belt or slide in your pocket. This is a plea for phone free zones. A plea for my safety and your peace of mind.
Phone Free Zones
If you only choose one place to stop using your phone, make it your car. I know you are a good driver. I know you think you can do everything at once, but there are dead and injured people out there that prove otherwise. The most important thing you can do in your car is drive. If you’ve ever been on a call while driving and arrived at your destination not remember a thing that you passed, or that happened on the way, you know it’s time for a change.
Don’t turn your phone to vibrate, turn it off and throw it in the backseat. If someone calls you with urgent information, they will leave a message. I have tried to do this halfway, promising not to use my phone in the car, but as soon as I hear it ring, I’m distracted. It’s unfair to me, my passengers and other drivers.
You may be able to walk and talk at the same time, but it is impossible to walk with purpose while you are on your phone. Those white lines may protect you legally from oncoming traffic, but they aren’t actual barriers. You have to pay attention to traffic even when you have permission to cross.
Friends don’t let friends talk on cell phones while dining out. When you answer a call while dining with friends, you are sending this message, “The person I am talking to on the phone is more important to me than you.”
If you are so busy that you can’t enjoy dinner with friends, don’t go. If you have a small child at home or a pending emergency, put your phone on vibrate and excuse yourself from the table if you need to take the call. note: confirming your next haircut is not an emergency.
If shutting down phones is new to your circle of friends, make it fun. Agree that the first person with a ringing phone at the table pays for dinner.
I don’t mind waiting in line, but I don’t want to wait longer because you can’t talk on the phone and pay for your groceries at the same time. When you are on your phone at the store or during any transaction, you are saying this to the person helping you and everyone waiting behind you. “I don’t value your time”.
Only 2 things should be happening in your bed, and phone calls aren’t one of them.
No explanation needed.
This is mostly for your own health, and because it’s really gross.
A few notes:
- An earpiece or any other hands free device still requires your attention and distracts you from the task at hand.
- Any place I suggest not talking on the phone goes double for texting or any other use of your phone.
- You know what constitutes an emergency.
- Please eliminate iPads, computers, pagers and other distractions from your phone free zones.
- If you are reading this post on your phone while driving, please don’t leave a comment until you get home.
If you felt uncomfortable reading this post, you know what to do next. I didn’t realize how addicted to my phone I was until I stopped using it in the car. If you are rolling your eyes and thinking that “the car is the only place I have time to talk” or “I don’t have a problem” remember that like any addiction, denial is the first sign.
When you stop using your phone in the car, during social events and while generally living your life, you will start to relax, engage and realize what you’ve been missing, and it’s not a phone call.
Where will you declare a phone free zone?