I always love staying at a hotel and placing the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door. There’s something liberating about politely telling guests and staff ‘leave me alone.’ We don’t take enough time in our lives to make this same request. It can feel like we are perpetually asked to engage, respond, answer, check email, listen to messages, react. In this digital age, we literally have our world at our fingertips, in the palm of our hands, always at the ready. The cell phone.
Did you know there’s a marvelous feature on cell phones? Do Not Disturb. Yep! It’s there for you, and programmable to be switched on and off automatically. Using Do Not Disturb (DND) allows you to politely tell everyone in your world ‘leave me alone,’ or more gently ‘I am not available.’ Even more importantly, using DND gives YOU the permission to take time away from the constant demand and expectation to engage.
It's only in the last 10-15 years that cell phones have become normalized in our lives. As the technology has improved, so has the ability to communicate and ask questions whenever it suits us. This has served well in many ways and we’ve reduced wait times for rides, uncertainty about kids’ whereabouts, disconnection from others and narrowed the gap on time sensitive concerns. However, a side effect is the dissolution of respectful boundaries such as ‘no phone calls after 9pm or before 8am’ or waiting to get a reply during ‘normal hours.’ Because cell phones are with us ALL THE TIME, there are unspoken expectations that when we send or receive a call or text message, that there will be a hasty reply.
Living without these boundaries can leave us feeling time-hijacked. We can feel obligated to be available 24/7. Using a function such as DND, you can reclaim your time availability. With DND, you can silence notifications from specific apps (or all apps), send calls directly to voicemail and silence the constant ‘ding’ noise from all the programs running on your phone. What would it be like to have some quiet and peace from your phone for a few hours a day? Certainly when you’re sleeping, activating DND gives your mind, body and soul time to disengage and fully focus inward for necessary rest. When the body completely restores and recovers, you are re-set for the next day, leaving you feeling wiser, stronger, less stressed, more confident and more emotionally regulated.
To activate DND, go to your settings, select Focus (for iPhone), and turn on Do Not Disturb. For Android, in settings, select Do Not Disturb and hold down the icon to open the customizable settings. From here, on both platforms, you can create exceptions – such as allowing calls from important loved ones or your boss (though, maybe DND for your boss would be a good thing….), as well as set the times of day the feature turns on and off, and whether it is automatic or manually activated.
Taking time for yourself, such as using DND, can feel foreign and disconcerting. As with anything new, you don’t need to go ‘all in.’ Try this out for one day. Or try it during hours when you feel pressure to respond if you receive a message, such as when you’re sleeping, eating with family or at the gym. Try it out for weekend nights only. Whenever makes the most sense for you to take some time away from your device will be the best time to implement DND. Personally, I use DND from 9pm to 7am, every day. There’s a beauty in honoring this ‘off’ time for myself, in a world where I’m constantly ‘on.’
Using DND isn’t limited to your cell phone. You can also activate this feature for desktops, tablets, Alexa – really, for any electronic device. Business success coaches guide their clients to use DND for email during designated hours of the day to gain better productivity without disruptions from email notifications or chat messages. This demonstrates how easily we can lose focus when we have distractions from the task at hand – another way our time gets hijacked. The ease of activating or deactivating DND makes it practical to try out and tweak to your needs.
What will improve in your life with more uninterrupted, peaceful, purposeful and personal time?