At the end of September this year I did something I’d been wanting to do for a while. I quit my job. Stepped down as Creative Director and stopped being a Partner at the agency I worked for. For over 15 years I’ve lead businesses.
I decided it was time to stop.
On the 10th September, in a remote part of Canada, Chris Sheldon stood up and presented the world with the NoPhone Air.
The NoPhoneAir represents a smart phone in every respect and at as cost of 10$ is significantly cheaper than any smartphone on the market. The real beauty of the NPA is not what it looks like on the outside, but what’s on the inside. Air.
The NoPhone is part of a trend developing for people longing to return to a less-digitally-connected world. Who crave off-line. Who no longer want to glued to their phones. We want connection – that is the most basic of human needs – but now we have connection overload.
The NoPhone and the company that Sheldon & Gould established has become a cult for people that are longing to slow down, disconnect and find a different rhythm in life.
And it’s not just a disillusioned bunch if Millennials, Kanye West tweeted: “I got rid of my phone so I can have air to create.”
It’s a strange phenomenon: the more digital, connected and social we are – the more we crave an offline life.
How do we find a balance?
Every major revolution in human advancement has primarily been about one thing: doing more with less, for less and in less time.
We motorised ploughing, allowing bigger fields, ploughed quicker to producer more corn in less time. We could produce more clothes in by automating processes and using a less skilled workforce to drive the machines. The internet and email allowed more knowledge, more connection, more communications in less time.
On paper, this allows us to spend more time doing what we love – but do we?
I spent the last three years surrounded by people (in every walk of life) who talked about quitting, disconnecting, changing, doing something different – none of them did.
We become trapped in a world of anxiety, salary, speed, addiction, purpose, belonging and being (pseudo-) connected.
The faster we live life, the more adrenaline that courses through our body, the more we experience tunnel vision (the term blind panic denoting the tunnel vision caused by adrenaline in our system) and lose site of the horizon.
So here are three (relatively) simple things the you can do, encourage your employees to do or introduce in the office to help create a more balanced and productive environment.
Human beings are created to live lives at 4mph – the basic speed our limbs are designed to move at.
Drive slower, cycle slower, walk slower. Slowing down allows our brain and body to stop; it reduces the amount of adrenaline and cortisol in our body, it opens our peripheral vison (literally and metaphorically) and allows us to make clearer, better decisions with much less anxiety and stress.
Try it for one month it will transform how you view work, creativity, relationships, family and the decisions you make.
Hold on to something.
Sheldon & Gould’s NoPhone taps in to a basic psychological fact about human beings – we’re happier when we hold something. My son cannot sleep without holding his ‘doeky’ a small piece of cloth – I guess most of us had one. That need for a ‘comforter’ does not leave us as adults.
Robert Sapolsky, a neurobiologist and author of ‘Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers’ discovered through his research that the mere act of physically holding an object can significantly reduce our stress levels – even with the knowledge that what you hold is having zero impact on what is causing the stress. It’s not the ‘squidgyness’ of a stress ball that helps.
Phones are anxiety quenchers – something we can hold that, whether we realise it or not, is helping reduce our anxiety levels.
Find something, buy something, give something for people to hold and they will be less stressed and happier.
Too belong, to be part of a/the tribe is a primal human need. Loneliness is a killer. Technology has allowed us to create pseudo-tribes and there is no question that they are important and significant. Refugees fleeing from the world’s war zones bring a phone as sometimes their only belonging– it’s their portal, connection point with the tribe they have been forced to leave behind.
Connection and belonging are one of our most primal human needs. Loneliness kills. Find space in your office where real-time, off-line physical relationships can be fostered. In my old agency – we built a bar – it became a place to hang out, work, chat and of course socialise.
Technology has expanded the tribe beyond the horizon – but not at the expense of the physical, the immediate, touch, intimacy.
I slowed down completely to spend more time doing what I love’; writing, exploring creativity, spending time with the clients I love working with. It’s also a chance to get off, see where I am and explore the world.