I was thrilled recently to receive a handwritten letter from a friend who moved to a different city at the end of last year. Handwritten correspondence has not been well represented in my post for sometime. I was particular excited at the idea of writing back to my friend, and I think the reason for this is knowing I can take my time to enjoy writing back. A letter, unlike instant messaging, text or email, does not demand an immediate response. This made me think of a new commandment I’ve created especially for my March Happiness Project theme Slow Down. The commandment is this: your phone is not your boss.
My phone controls too much of my time
A while ago I had a revelation about my emails on my phone. I used to get stressed out whenever I got a new email notification. It would interrupt my work flow, I’d feel I had to check it and then probably respond. A few months ago I had the bright idea to turn off my email notifications. Now I am in control of when I check my emails.
Recently I’ve got into the bad habit of checking my emails whenever I take a work break. I’m really trying to return to checking just two to three times per day as I was much happier when I did this before. With my new ‘your phone is not you boss’ commandment I also want to extend this rule to checking social media. I feel (and I’m sure I’m not alone) a pull to check my phone whenever I have an unoccupied moment. This is totally unnecessary, and leads to the feeling of having to time.
I want to slow down my correspondence
Mail that actually arrives in the post has largely been replaced by the kind that piles up in our inboxes. It used to be that I enjoyed writing an email to a friend or family member, and sometimes I still do, but responding to emails has mainly become a source of stress. Receiving my friend’s letter reminded me of the joy in corresponding with friends and family. Perhaps if we slow down our correspondence, in all forms, we can bring some of the joy back.
So, apart from writing more letters some ideas I have for bringing a slower quality to correspondence are:
- Don’t do anything else whilst talking on the phone. Just be present in the conversation.
- Turn your phone on silent or vibrate. If I hear a noise I become like Pavlov’s dog and need to get the reward of checking my phone instantly.
- Don’t feel like you have to immediately respond to a text, email or WhatsApp. And don’t expect others to either. If something’s urgent pick up the phone instead.
- Dedicate time to check and respond to your email, rather than doing it all day alongside your other work.
I’m hoping these will help me regain joy in corresponding with others, and at the very least not get stressed out by it. Do you have any correspondence based tips? Let me know in the comments below!