I find social media exhausting. For a long time I used it as a time filler or a source of entertainment. I’d go to bed tired and yet having accomplished absolutely nothing towards my dreams and goals. Being a keyboard warrior, fighting all day as a rebel with no applause with people who didn’t contribute to the GDP of my household. Something had to change. 

I developed a phone usage policy for myself and it has helped me to become more present and more productive. I am happier and healthier. These are a few of the things I adhere to when it comes to phone usage. 

I’m not online Monday mornings 

I’ll wake up on Monday and post my #MoneyMonday status and close WhatsApp. I love Mondays! Mondays are when my best work is produced. That’s how I chose  Monday as my offline-to-work day. During one of our sessions with Leap Consulting Firm when I worked at C2 Digital, we established that people are most productive in the first two hours of the working day. So from 6am to 10am I am knocking out the 3 biggest tasks/priorities for my week. Have you ever noticed how a text can derail your whole day and drain your whole mood? Yeah, that’s why my Monday mornings are off limits to you.

I’m an early sleeper

If you text me anytime after 8pm you’d be lucky to get a response. Not only am I an early to bed, early to rise kind of person, I am also a firm believer in 45 minutes of quiet time just before bed to reflect on the day, update the to-do list and have a whole prayer session. I like to quiet the mind before I sleep. I also have a rule to not sleep in the same room as my phone just for my peace of mind and to resist the temptation to, “TL asleep?”

Don’t call me when I’m putting my lover to sleep 

My lover works strange hours (Australian hours from Zimbabwe) and he needs to be asleep by 18:00 CAT. I will get on a how was work/goodnight call with him round about that time so it’s not a great time to try and reach me. We are in a long distance relationship so this call is important. I can look at your texts while on the phone with him but please don’t call me. Shortly after this call, I will initiate my sleep sequence and be asleep approximately an hour after that. 

“Put it on airplane mode so none of those calls come through,” – Cardi B

When I am not by my phone, I will put it on flight mode. When she says,” the number you have dialed is not available at the moment,” she’s not lying. This includes when I am asleep, bathing or playing with my nephew. The chakra hun in me does not like to be woken up abruptly from a deep slumber. When you call me and it rings, it gives you false hope that I might pick up whereas on the other hand it might give you the impression that I’m ignoring you and dancing to my ringtone. To avoid having you feel some type of way, rather my phone be on flight mode and you know without a reasonable doubt that I am unreachable and you should make alternative arrangements for whatever you need.

My notifications are turned off

I love technology because of cool features such as turning off my notifications. I also learnt this during my time at C2 Digital. We found the Slack notifications distracting. It would say to your brain, new work has come in, check it out. You’d then leave your current task and discover a new task with an equally tight deadline. Now you’re overwhelmed. Not productive. I don’t wanna know when any of my social media has new notifications. I’ll check it when I’m good and ready. I don’t want to be a slave to my phone. That notification counter gives me unnecessary anxiety. I don’t understand people with hundreds of unopened emails either. I’d lose my mind. 

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Do not disturb

My do not disturb feature is set between 18:00 and 08:00. It is automated so don’t pin your hopes on human error that I might forget to activate it. This allows me peace going to bed and peace to start my day. I also do not buy mobile data. Which means when I am not at work or at home you can’t WhatsApp me. This downtime helps me to be present during whatever I’m doing. I also use this time to draft emails and blog posts without disturbances. You can try to call me but whoops, my phone is set to silence unknown callers. Yep, getting a hold of me is a whole long ting.

But Thembi your number is publicly all over social media and your website 

Who told you that it’s my only number? Joke’s on you! If my inner circle needs to reach me and the povo number isn’t reachable or offline, they know the Bat signal. 

Reclaiming my time through this phone usage policy has made me more balanced and less prone to anxiety attacks. Being too available or highly accessible can become unhealthy and toxic. Develop a phone usage policy for you and before anyone can adhere to it, you need the self restraint to be able to adhere to it yourself.