I used to love my phone and how useful it was for communication…but not anymore, communication overload is driving me mad, I want to switch it off ...but I’m worried I’ll miss something!

It doesn’t seem long ago that I was at college and I didn’t even own a mobile phone. Unimaginable now. I used to call friends from a phone attached to a wall by a wire. I used to arrange to meet them at a given place at a given time and we’d meet, easy!

When I got a job I bought a mobile phone. It was the cutting edge of technology. It was brick-like in shape and density, it had a pull up aerial and I still had to stand outside my flat to get a signal, but I thought it was bloody marvelous none the less!

20 years on and communication technology has evolved. I don’t think I know anyone over the age of 10 who doesn’t own a mobile phone, even in the back-of-beyond and in the far-flung corners of the world.

But as the years have gone by and my life has changed so much since those simple college days, I hadn’t realised how much my phone now runs my life. It holds my life precariously in its hands. And when I’m careless enough to drive off with it on the roof of my car I’m screwed! The sick panicky feeling of losing all my photos, my calendar, my messages my beautiful shiny phone….my whole life!

Communication overload

So many of my day to day activities require my phone. The to-do list on Wonderlist, the food shopping app, the google calendar which is synced with my husbands, the school, my gym classes. Emails personal and work, messaging apps…. I use all of the channels daily but they all respond back to me so the flow of communication is relentless.

Simple text messaging on my mobile has been superseded by a number of messaging apps: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer, Instagram ….. I think I’m too old for Snapchat! It seems text messaging is mainly just for my mum now who still needs convincing that she even needs a mobile phone!

It seems having so many communication channels and inboxes has its drawbacks!

I consider myself a pretty organised person. I write lists. I’m a working mum with 2 small children and I juggle a LOT of things. I take my kids to school/pre-school, I do all the cooking, cleaning, food shopping, house maintenance (I’m nifty with a drill), I work, I play with my kids, I go to the gym and I see my friends. This means I often fall onto the sofa in a frazzled heap at the end of the day and then I spend much of my precious child-free time dealing with endless phone admin.

I sometimes don’t look at my phone all day, but if I haven’t been keeping on top of the messages throughout the day then it’s inbox overload by the evening!!

I also keep my phone on silent most of the time because I noticed the message alerts were starting to give me a nervous twitch, pinging every couple of minutes. However, because it’s often on silent when I do look there are so many messages I don’t know where to start responding. My life has become so busy and the floodgates of communication are well and truly open!

To add to the problem, I’m forever reading or rather half reading messages whilst doing something else simultaneously.… burning dinner, untangling My Little Pony from the Hot Wheels, etc. I ALWAYS reply mentally but often forget to reply physically from all the chaos. When I DO finally sit down to reply there are invariably 100 more messages to action and reply to. 

Recently my son was invited to a friend’s party, I managed to reply and even managed to put the time in my google calendar but I had failed to make a note of the location of the party. The day of the party arrives and we are running late …as usual… ….if you don’t have kids, Michael McIntyre sums it well trying to leave the house when you’ve got kids. Shoes are on and we were going out the door and then I thought eek, where IS the party and where is the message telling me where the party IS!?!?! WhatsApp, scroll through a million messages, not in there, SMS, no, maybe it was an email, gah must be Messenger? By this time kids have taken their shoes off and gone back in the house and have lost all faith that I will ever find the message. I did eventually find the message in the depths of a conversation string …..but we missed half of the party!

What’ the solution?

I can’t simply turn my phone off when it all gets too much as what if someone genuinely NEEDS to contact me. How would I remember the things I need to do without my lists and reminders? Would my friends know I still cared if I didn’t reply? We’ve come too far to be able to turn back. This is how we all communicate now!

I know I’m not alone feeling overwhelmed by phone communication, lots of my friends have dropped off WhatsApp and Facebook to get away from it all but I’m not sure I can do that. I think we all need to think more about the way we communicate or rather over communicate.

Disa.im is an Android app currently in beta phase that promises to combine SMS, WhatsApp, Hangouts and Facebook messaging in one place. Maybe unified messaging will help streamline my inboxes.

I know for me personally, I don’t think I can sustain communicating at this kind of level. For now I’m doing the best I can but if would like to be forgiven if you message to me if buried in sea of communications….. if your message is important maybe just give me a call and we’ll meet at the pub and talk!