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Elizabeth Fairon

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The importance of being present


My phone is broken. Permanently. So, for the time being I am temporarily uncontactable by mobile. I had to chuckle to myself on Wednesday as I found myself driving away from the Apple Genius Bar, 90s music booming. I had no phone. My only means of communication was the mini iPad I was carrying around which only provided limited access to emails and Facebook messenger. For a lack of a better word, I felt teleported back to a time and place where we weren’t so easily contactable.

I must say, I’m relishing this time without a phone, though it has been a strange week. In the intervening period between the phone incident on Monday and my trip to the Apple store on Wednesday, I constantly checked it to see whether it was on, working, back to life, anything. I was totally distracted by whether it would switch on again.

I read somewhere recently that the average person checks their phone 150 times per day. I have always prided myself on limited phone usage; I don’t pounce when a text message comes in and I can go for hours with my phone on silent (only to check later the missed calls to the frustration of my friends and family). I check news feeds and social media in the mornings but otherwise, I like the peace and quiet of having silent mode enabled. With all that said however, I am one to regularly call with my mum and friends for a chat as soon as I jump in the car (hands-free of course).

Jumping back to the topic at hand, now that I’ve come to terms that my phone will not be switching back on, I’ve reflected on the balance of being available yet also continuing (when my temporary phone arrives) with less distraction. I think most of all, I am enjoying being more present – knowing that if there are issues or concerns someone will contact me at work or send me an email – and getting on with the task at hand.

For example, this week I had a breakfast meeting where I might have ordinarily checked my phone at some point throughout the morning. Then, on Wednesday night, I had a lovely dinner with friends and didn’t feel the need or desire to check my phone – I instead enjoyed engaging in those conversations around me.

Most of all I think I have enjoyed the quiet. Accepting that I can’t conveniently check my messages, mail or the like and that’s okay, and that if something happens I can be contacted my other means. Appreciating the space that is available in my mind for deeper and more creative thought.

I am going to take this as a lesson in managing distraction effectively so that I can achieve those things I have set out to achieve.

Have a great day and enjoy being present in whatever you are up to.

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