We are an always on generation. The irony is when we’re always on, we’re drained, and we need quiet: time to think, reflect, and rest. I talked about this topic on episode 17 of the Just Saying podcast when I noticed that I was constantly checking my phone for information.
I checked my phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I checked my phone throughout the day, between meetings, and while running to the airport. I was always on and thought, This has to stop.
But the flow of information won’t stop. It doesn’t care about us. We have to care enough about ourselves to stop the noise and intentionally unplug from technology to recharge.
Unplugging won’t be easy, but, once you start scheduling quiet into your day, you will recognize it is a need-to-have not a nice-to-have.
The 7-to-7 Rule
After noticing that I was constantly checking my phone, I created the 7-to-7 rule: Don’t connect to technology before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. I can connect to technology throughout the day, but, after 7 p.m., no more.
I try to live every day by this rule. That doesn’t mean I sit in a corner after 7 p.m. I use the quiet time to recharge. How you use your quiet time is up to you: Use it to read, think, write, have a conversation, or spend time with family and friends.
If 7 to 7 doesn’t work for you, pick different cutoff times, but, once you pick them, stick with them.
Quiet as an Appointment
The 7-to-7 rule bookends your day, but you should schedule quiet into your day, too. Treat it as an appointment. Set aside 15 minutes before an important meeting to prepare or after to reflect. Find time between events on the calendar to stop and dial down the noise.
When I’m being effective, I start the day with 15 minutes to study my schedule and end the day with a piece of paper, no interruptions, and reflection. I close the door, scan my mental notes, and think about how the day went.
Quiet on the Go
We’re connected even on the go. The first thing we do when we get in a car is check our phones or turn on the radio. Instead, don’t turn anything on. No sound. Nothing. Just sit with your thoughts while driving for 10 minutes. The quiet feels strange at first, but then it feels great.
I travel a lot, and flights are a great opportunity for precious quiet time, but almost all planes now have Wi-Fi, and everyone is on their phones. Be the exception—just don’t do it. Write or take a nap. Take a book on the bus or train, stare out the window, or have a conversation with the person beside you. Do whatever you want so long as you stay unplugged.
We’re always connected, and it makes us anxious. If we intentionally unplug, we will live more peaceful lives. Disconnect from technology from 7 to 7, treat quiet as an appointment, unplug on the go, and just go to bed. If we don’t prioritize quiet, the lack of it will make us frenetic.