Back in January 2017, I wrote a post about how I was actively turning down the noise in my life and I wanted to revisit that again, after another 7 months of cranking the volume down from an absolutely deafening level. Here’s what I’ve learned: the volume of my life was way too damn loud in a lot of different ways and getting control over the volume has made a HUGE difference for me.
Avoiding The News – I caught some shit about this one. Some people couldn’t believe that I actually, 100%, stopped reading the news. Some people thought I was irresponsible for not being aware of current events. Some people thought I was sticking my head in the sand to avoid having to deal with “what’s going on out there.” And, you know, they’re all right to a certain extent. But, for me, the benefits I’ve received by avoiding the news has far outweighed any of the stress, anxiety, anger and fear that the news has ever given me. Wading through the mass of fear-mongering, dramatized stories did not make the small portion of what was actually factual and relevant worth it. December 23, 2016 was the last day I read the news and I regret nothing about it. Oddly enough, even though I’m not stalking the news outlets every day, the world keeps spinning. Whoda thunk it?!
Keeping My Cell Phone On Silent Or Vibrate – My phone is on Do Not Disturb 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and has been for months. Don’t get excited – I don’t block out the ENTIRE world. Emergencies happen, and that’s why I prefer Do Not Disturb to silent or vibrate. With Do Not Disturb, I can set exceptions and allow some things to come through, just in case of those emergencies. Calls and texts from “priority” callers that I designate come through, and, if the same number calls twice within 15 minutes, it will come through. But, other than that, that sucker doesn’t make a peep. No Facebook messenger bubble-poppy-noises when 50 people in a mass chain message start sharing photos of their favorite shampoo. No e-mail zippy-zop noises when Bed, Bath and Beyond spams my inbox with coupon codes, today’s color of 100,000 thread count sheets that are on sale and “get it before it’s gone” deals at 3am. No ring-da-lings when Jim, who has the wrong number (but is a heck of a persistent guy!), incessantly requests to know where to deliver tractor-trailers full of items for my non-existent company. Or when a dude named JT wants to chat with a complete stranger on Thanksgiving Day. The sheer distraction from life that all of that nonsense noise created in my life was ridiculous. When it’s something of value from someone I value, I get alerted. Otherwise, it waits until I decide to be distracted by it all.
Turning Off App Notifications On My Phone – This one has been huge! I caught myself displaying my phone’s screen to see if I had missed any notifications A LOT. I knew that if I got something from a “priority” person in my life, I’d get alerted right away. So, I knew that all the extra notifications weren’t significant. But, I checked it every few minutes anyway. Why? I’m sure there’s some psychology behind it, but, I really don’t know. And once I realized that my phone my phone was encouraging me to participate in this behavior that I don’t really understand, that was the end. The little red number in the corner of the e-mail icon, reminding me how many e-mails I received since I checked it last. The little red dot in the corner of the Facebook icon, letting me know how many “things” happened since I checked it last. The app notification from Google Maps, asking if I want to take a selfie during a date with my husband because it’s a “photo opportunity.” The little red number in the corner of the call icon, a constant reminder of how many telemarketers had tried to call since I checked it last. Why in the world was any of this important enough to have me checking my phone every few minutes? I decided to turn those notifications off and realized that absolutely none of it was important. Not only was it not important, but it was distracting me from being present in my life.
Taming The Social Media Circus – This involved a lot of unfriending, unfollowing and leaving groups. I deal with people’s exaggerated problems, drama and extreme oversharing all day at work every day I’m working. The last thing that I’m interested in doing on “me time” is being immersed in people’s exaggerated problems, drama and extreme oversharing when I’m not getting paid for it and have a choice in it. I was ruthless with my taming of the social media circus and it has brought me a lot of peace.
Disconnecting From Work During Non-Work Hours & Eliminating Overtime – While this has been very successful for me, it won’t work as well, or be as easy, for others. I’m fortunate in that, right now, I’m a union employee and a state employee. And while most times I consider those factors to be frustrating and limiting, when it comes to disconnecting from work during non-work hours and eliminating overtime, they definitely benefited me. My union contract calls for me to work 40 hours a week, during the hours my boss approved me to work that week. For a long time, that didn’t matter. I would go in early, stay late, work through lunch, work from home and go back after my shift to work more. But, I quickly(ish) realized that it wasn’t a give and take relationship between me and my employer. I gave and my employer took, as much as I will was willing or capable of giving, with nothing in return. Not a pat on the back. Not a “job well done.” Hell, not even a thank you for hours of time I cut out of my personal life to give to the machine. And that had to stop. There’s this quote…”what you accept is what continue.” And if I continued to accept cutting my personal short to give my time away to the Unappreciative Bureaucracy, it would continue that way. I stopped checking my work e-mail after I left the office. I stopped working overtime. I stopped volunteering to take on more and more to “get the job done.” I drew some personal boundaries and stuck to them. And, while sometimes I feel conflicted because my work ethic is “more, more, more,” climbing the corporate ladder isn’t my dream anymore. And focusing on my personal life, you know…where life actually happens, is my priority.