Have you ever heard of Nomophobia? No? It’s nothing naughty, I promise. When I stumbled across that term, I was quite surprised that the condition I often witness, including with myself until recently, actually had an official term.
Coined by a UK study about people’s anxieties, Nomophobia describes the fear of not being available to others on your mobile phone (No–Mobile-Phone Phobia). The study revealed that almost 53% of mobile phone users in Britain tend to be anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage”.
The anxiety, from my perspective as a freelancer, is mostly based on the fact that we don’t like being in a position where a (potential) client can’t reach us, be it via phone or e-mail. As I mentioned in my previous post, the fear of sinking into oblivion with a customer is too high, which is why for most of us busy bees, the phone is our constant companion nowadays. This is the 24/7 age where a client finds somebody else for the job because you didn’t reply to his e-mail within 2 minutes to accept it (that actually happened to me!), where you update your inbox every 20 seconds to check whether you’ve got new e-mails, where people get upset if you don’t read every e-mail that comes in after 10 pm…
What if we all were to set ourselves business hours in which we used our phones for business purposes? What if we were to say: “Sorry, my e-mail reading hours are between 9 am and 3 pm”? Would that have a decelerating effect on our hectic business lives, our expectations to get everything we want asap? Or would we be the odd one out and lose out on great business opportunities? What effect would it have on our mental health if we stopped clinging onto our smartphones?
A couple of months ago, we relocated to a tiny little village by the sea. Our address doesn’t even come up on Google or a SatNav. That tiny. Our closest neighbours are four-legged and rather furry. It goes without saying that – while we were blessed with panoramic views and a stunning landscape – mobile reception is zero.
I have to confess that it was quite struggle for me at first, and I remember hiking up the highest hill to have one bar of phone reception in order to check my missed calls. After a while though, it just started to feel natural to me, and I finally relaxed. It’s such a liberating feeling without a mobile phone! I’m not campaigning against them – don’t get me wrong here. All I can say is that for me personally, having to give up my hectic, phone-dependent, rather nomophobic (is that even a word?) old life and turning it into one with set working hours and regular clients who know they can only reach me at home, has been such a boost for my work/life balance.