A recent study revealed that the average American checks their smart phone over 100 times a day. While that number may seem shocking, if the pool was limited to entrepreneurs, I am sure that number would double or triple in size. Since launching my own business, my cell phone has become my lifeline. It is the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing I look at before going to bed. I check to see how many likes my last Instagram post received. A little ding and I swiftly pick up my phone to see who favorited my Etsy shop. I refresh my email what feels like every ten minutes to see if an order came in.
While staying on top of my business, analyzing what’s working and what’s not, is important, my attachment to my phone had started to become a problem. Many conversations with my boyfriend or friends happened while also scrolling through my Twitter feed or updating Faceboo. My phone is prominently displayed on my jewelry bench, so I can see every notification and alert that comes in, sometimes stopping mid-creation to check it. Because I am so anxious to see how the business is doing, I have stopped immersing myself in the creative process and it has affected the authenticity of my relationships. Without these two key components, my business is a failure no matter how many times one of my pins has been re-pinned or how many comments a Facebook post receives.
In an attempt to get a handle on my addiction, last week I experimented with a week long digital detox. For practical reasons, because my business really is reliant on email, social media and websites, I began the detox at 7 pm every evening. I promised that I would not look at my phone, except if a call came in, and would not open the computer. While I was somewhat intimidated by this prospect, I also felt that for just a week this would be a no brainer. Day one, I didn’t even make it a half hour before checking my phone. Day two, I had to put it on silent so I wouldn’t be tempted by notifications. By day three, I had to physically put the phone away to resist the temptation. Although each evening was filled with that physical itch to grab my phone, just to see what was going on, I slowly began to appreciate the freedom of putting the phone away. It was a pleasure to awake the following morning to discover what I missed the evening before. Moments of inspiration happened more often, where I would grab my little notebook to jot down a new marketing idea or a new design. I began to feel liberated from the pressure of having to see how my business was doing at all times. I felt more engaged in whatever I was doing, even if it was catching up on the latest shows with my boyfriend.
Now that I am back on the wagon, my phone has resumed its position on the coffee table next to my laptop. But the temptation to check it is reduced to maybe one or two times a night. I may now see an email roll in around 9 or 10 pm, but I don’t feel obligated to respond and I usually don’t until the following morning. I feel re-invigorated creatively. I feel less attached to the happenings to the digital world and more connected to what’s happening in real life, in that moment. While it may seem like a daunting challenge, I invite all small business owners to explore what happens when they put the phone and computer away, even if for just a moment.
Maya Ahluwalia – Crusoe Jewelry
Maya Ahluwalia is the designer behind Crusoe Jewelry, a fashion jewelry line inspired by nautical motifs, but interpreted into stylish designs. Crusoe Jewelry is created for the fashion-forward consumer with an appreciation for quality with an artisanal approach. Each design is hand-crafted in her Brooklyn-based studio.
In addition to creating Crusoe Jewelry, Maya is a marketing consultant with expertise in jewelry, fashion and luxury. Clients include Michael Aram Jewelry, Shawn Ames Fine Jewelry, Wells House Bed & Breakfast, and the LOU Lookbook App.