This past August when My Family and I went on vacation, I wanted to be sure I disconnected from my work life. I'm very good about protecting vacation and family time and while I'm always reachable by phone and text, I decided to do something to preserve my disconnection even further. I turned off the notifications for my mail app and took the app off my dock, and hid it in one of my app folders on my iPhone.
My reasons were simple: I did not want that little red number to let me know what was waiting for me when I got back from my vacation. Not only did I not want to see the number (which was way larger than 11) I did not want to even see the icon. I planned to put it right back where it belonged when I got back from vacation.
There would be plenty of time to return the mail that accumulated when I was back in the office. I wanted to ensure that I was being present to my family when I was on vacation. I read recently that one of people's biggest regrets when the are nearing the end of their lives is that they worked too hard. Trust me, I am all for hard work - and I am firm in my belief that family vacation is as critical, if not more.
When I returned to the office, I didn't move the app back to the dock where it has always been on my phone. And I didn't turn the notifications back on. Then adults returned for their first day, and the app was still hidden, without notifications. Then students returned, and the app was still hidden. This Tuesday will be the 27th day of school in MPS and the mail app is still hidden and the notifications are still turned off.
And I have been more present - in my office, in schools when visiting classrooms, in meetings, and with my family. I have focused more on the human beings in front of me than those who are electronically connecting with me. I have been present.
Instead of reaching for my phone to see how many messages have come through since I put it in my pocket, I'm using my phone to take pictures. Instead of reaching for my phone to stay on top of my e-mail, I'm having better face-to-face conversations, letting the messages stay in my inbox. Instead of looking at my phone, I'm looking at the people right in front of me.
The latest upgrade to iOS 11 includes a do not disturb app that automatically detects when you're driving and does not allow notifications to come through. I appreciate that nothing comes through on my phone when I'm driving except phone calls, which I can answer hands-free.
Now, please know that I still do check my phone, I know where to find my mail app, and I still respond to mail on the go from time to time. But I'm proud that I buried my mail app along with the notifications, it will not ever come of out of the folder it's hidden in and the notifications will permanently stay off. Perhaps someday I'll have the courage to delete it completely.