When I purchased my first Smartphone it was 2009 and I was 31 years old.
So, for most of my life I’ve managed to live and thrive without a smartphone in hand. Quite an extraordinary achievement, don’t you think?
We tend to forget that smartphones are a new phenomenon, a very young but an extremely powerful invention.
I remember how the pace of life became faster and chaotic once there were WhatsApp, Facebook and email notifications coming in all day long beeping my brain out.
There was one thing that I kept repeating to myself in order to stay sane and calm under the “attack” of these never-ending beeps and temptations.
That was my grandmother’s words when I was just a young girl.
Her words were a game changer for me. They allowed me to enjoy only the benefit of the always-on-wired digital new world without losing my focus and my attention under the unimaginable stress and noise that became an inseparable part of our world.
My Nana used to say, pretty often, and mostly to my parents:
“This isn’t the time, nor the place.”
So, whenever my parents got into yet another petty argument over the dinner table she’d say
“this isn’t the time, nor the place.”
That innocent sentence shifted the energy, allowing us kids to have more attention to conversing rather than being a passive audience to their “show”.
This was a game changer.
Not only did it create a far nicer atmosphere in the house, but I remember being amazed to recognise the fact that there was a ‘right’ time and a ‘right’ place to do certain things.
I hadn’t been aware that we had a choice of when we do things prior to this point.
I remember the physical impact it had on me as a child, the relief of being aware that we could control the right time for things to happen.
I started applying this principle to other areas of my life and within a short time it became a habit — to stop before I do something, wait and ask myself:
Is this the right time and place to be doing X?
Is this the right time and place to be talking about Y?
Is this the right time and place to be thinking of Z?
Timing is crucial.
It shifts the energy and provides far better results, rather than insisting on doing or saying something at a poor or inappropriate time.
Fast forward 30 years from that dinner table and I realise that I am coping with the onset of the digital era in a very different way to my colleagues.
Because I have these practices in my toolkit — to question “is this the right time and place” — then I’m not easily distracted by social media, notifications, FOMO and other new phenomena.
Thanks to my Nana’s advice, even when life turned hectic and noisy, I was always able to push through my important-not-urgent tasks, not letting any arbitrary tech invention take over my priorities in life.