I found myself in a constant state of almost-anxiety.
Not anxiety, but something.
A shallowness of breath, not feeling completely relaxed.
Compulsively checking my phone to see if anything needed my attention.
Feeling relieved if there was nothing to deal with.
I did some muscle testing and found that the root cause was ‘Fear of other people being annoyed with me.’
And this fear, this trigger, was resulting in me being constantly on the alert.
Because if someone had a problem that needed my attention and I failed to respond quickly, they might be annoyed, and to me, that was terrifying.
As I did a quick Energy Edit to release my body’s stress response to the trigger, and break the pattern, I realised two things:
I’m not superwoman.
I take my work very seriously but as important as my clients and customers are, it’s not life or death.
I’m not an emergency room doctor.
I don’t have to be on-call 24 hours a day because people are not dying if I don’t check my email.
Also, I’m not superwoman.
Not the caped version saving lives (see above).
And not the modern-day-mythical-creature who’s ‘having it all’.
It’s impossible to live a fulfilled life, love your friends and family, have fun, enjoy your work AND be a slave to your inbox with your phone glued to your hand.
As much as we don’t want to admit it, it’s true.
Those little electronic devices are meant to be our servants, handy tools, not the master of how we spend every waking minute.
I gave myself permission right then to step away from the emails.
As the fear of ‘someone being annoyed with me’ released, I realised it was time to woman-up and take some action.
- I deleted my email account from my phone.
I knew if I had to sit at my laptop to answer emails, I’d check them far less often.
I already have notifications for everything switched off.
I don’t want pings, bings, badges and flags interrupting my day.
But that didn’t stop me hitting ‘Inbox’ to make it check for new emails way too often.
Email access on my phone had to go.
This would also eliminate two other silly things I was doing:
Tapping out replies on that tiny keyboard when I could do it much faster on the laptop.
Or, worse, reading emails twice – once on the phone and again later, because of course I could reply much faster on the laptop…
It wasn’t just the emails that were keeping me attached to the phone.
I am an avid facebook user.
I love The Book (as my Dad calls it).
But it’s addictive.
It’s an energy-suck, an attention vampire and a time-eating vortex.
I’d tried deleting the facebook app from my phone before, but always just ended up downloading it again 24 hours later.
This time I vowed just to stop keeping my phone by my side.
Maybe you do it too, carry your phone from room to room at home?
What the hell is that about?
It had to stop.
I had to start being conscious of when I was picking it up and not just letting it be something I do for vague entertainment.
I put my phone in a drawer in the hallway so it was out of sight until I set aside time to actually use it.
I knew that my hands and brain were going to get twitchy for something to do.
Like any good habit the quiet moments are when it’s hard to break.
Between tasks, waiting for the kids, or making a hot drink, I would usually pick up my phone and start scrolling.
I’d love to tell you that I made the switch from using the phone to meditating in silence and that I now have the zen of a Buddhist monk.
Or that I started doing push-ups and I now have a six-pack.
But I already resist both of those, so they didn’t quite appeal enough to get me to step away from the plastic rectangle.
This is what I did:
2. Instead of my phone I carry a small notebook.
(Fellow stationary lovers, for you: Hardcover, elastic snap to keep it closed, quality paper, A6.)
And a pen.
(Uni-ball, turquoise ink.)
I carry them everywhere.
Instead of passively consuming; I’m actively creating.
Some of what I write down is complete bollocks.
Occasionally I make ugly doodles.
But a lot of the time this happens:
I make notes for things that will help me and other people.
I journal and process ‘stuff’ that I’m working through.
I get my ideas out of my head and free up brain space.
It’s so simple.
It’s nice for my kids see me writing with a pen instead of typing on a screen.
(I know, because they told me, like this:
“I like it that you’re not on your phone all the time mum.”
Yeah, not exactly a Proud Parenting Moment.)
I sometimes forget to put my phone away, and when I do, that feeling of ‘busyness’ creeps back in.
The over-flowing brain and tension in my gut that stems from the sense that my time is not my own.
And my time is my own.
Like many of you, I’ve created a business where my time IS mine.
I choose the hours I work.
I limit the number of clients I take on.
I don’t schedule long-running programmes that include monthly calls because when I see it mapped out my calendar I lose my sense of freedom and start to feel sick.
And yet still I was filling my days.
Making myself answerable to people who didn’t even expect an answer!
When I tested for the trigger it came up as ‘It’s safe for me to be perfectly happy’.
Apparently I had a limiting belief that it wasn’t.
When I did the Energy Edit, up came the subconscious reasons for why it’s not safe for me to be perfectly happy:
Like… people don’t like perfectly happy people.
And… If you’re perfectly happy it can only go downhill.
That’s what my subconscious had been whispering to me.
So now my phone sits in the drawer until I actively WANT to use it.
For connections that feel harmonious.
At times when it feels good to connect.
Acknowledging that it’s ‘safe for me to be perfectly happy’ and releasing the fear of ‘someone being annoyed’ led me to the third and final hack.
This was a big one for me.
I’d tried it twice before and faltered.
- I handed my email inbox over to a VA.
A virtual assistant.
Which is a terrible name, because ‘virtual’ means ‘sort of’.
And who wants to hand their business to a ‘sort-of’ assistant?
Personally, I want a Definite Assistant.
(I do realise that it’s virtual because they work remotely, don’t worry.)
I couldn’t even imagine how handing over my emails to a VA would work.
So I got on a call and asked really stupid questions and this is what I found out…
(You might already know this, but if you don’t you might find this as GENIUS as I did.)
You set up a new email account and you don’t give the address to anyone apart from your VA.
You give your VA access to your business email account.
Your VA monitors the emails, replies to anything obvious, deals with anything that doesn’t need your input (this grows the longer you work together.)
The emails that DO need your input are forwarded to your secret email address.
You monitor that email address once a day – at the very most.
You hit reply and send your response back to your main email address.
Your VA copies the text over in a reply to the original email and sends it.
So you’re still replying to people personally when they need you to.
But you don’t have to wade through the stuff that needs admin assistance, or receipts that need filing, or any of the other random stuff that lands there.
You don’t have to check emails ‘just in case’ – only to find yourself in the vortex of ‘just quickly’ responding.
Your inbox is the to-do list other people want to give you.
It’s how other people think you should spend your time.
And I’d like to tell you that it’s not just ok for you to choose how you spend your time – it’s not just important.
You get to choose.
That’s the point of creating your own business.
You don’t have a boss.
So don’t let the thousands of clients, connections and customers (real and potential) become thousands of bosses who dictate what you do and when you do it.
Repeat after me:
It is safe for me to be perfectly happy.
Have a brilliant day.
Lots of love