Some cursory web research on reasonable text response times mirror my real life experience -namely, it depends who you ask. Some say a week is reasonable, others say anything less than immediate is inconsiderate. One poll I found said that during work hours a 1-hour response time was reasonable for friends and after work between 5-15 minutes. Five to fifteen minutes? Maybe if I’m constantly looking at my phone. But the thing is, I don’t want to be.
Yes this includes email, social media, calls, texts, the whole shebang- but still. 4 HOURS.
That equates to over 60 full 24 hour days, 2 MONTHS on my phone per year. 2 months, glued to a screen eyes squinting, shoulders hunched, carpal tunneling my way to early osteoarthritis. I can’t say I don’t have time for a one-hour yoga class, 5 minutes of meditation, or insignificant things such as you know, eating lunch, when I’m spending 4 hours glued to an iPhone. And the thing is, it’s.not.even.satisfying. I love a good meme or bitmoji as much as the next gal, but overall I find texting more energy draining than enhancing. This was confirmed for me when I went to Kripalu, a yoga retreat center this October and turned my phone off for an entire week. I cannot even tell you the relief I had. And the mental space! Yet, going cold turkey doesn’t seem like the best option either. So what’s a person to do? It’s still a work in progress, but here are strategies I recommend trying:
- Set Boundaries for Yourself with Technology. A good way to think about boundaries is “rules.” What rules do I want to have for myself around texting, email, voicemails, etc. For example, I have tried ("tried" being a keyword) to implement a phone turn-off at 9pm and bought a wake up light alarm clock to use to wake up instead of the iPhone on the nightstand alarm clock option that more easily lends itself to the midnight internet rabbit hole. Bonus, it’s a great way to counter the seasonal light changes! :) I also turn my phone off when I’m working. Other ideas are phones off and charging in bedrooms during family dinner, using a iPod shuffle during a workout to be unreachable during a workout, and of course the standard and very important no texting while driving.
- You Get To Decide What’s Reasonable for You. Once you determine your technology parameters you can determine what a reasonable text response time might be for you. The key here is YOU GET TO DECIDE. You get to say, I only want to check my phone in the morning and night. Or I check it all day everyday because I don’t mind and I need to follow all the live tweets and all the insta stories. The important part is they come from you vs. other’s expectations of your response time and engagement. Now that I have my time frames around technology I do my best to respond in that time and let go of the rest.
- Let the people in your life know what your standard response time is or your intentions around text communication. When I saw how much time I was spending on my phone I let some of my friends know I had set an intention to be on my phone much less and only wanted to text to coordinate logistics or schedule time to talk in person or by phone. Certainly that doesn’t always happen, and I’m still willing to text but the gist is I personally don’t want my relationships to be primarily expressed and maintained via texting.
- Let go of others' expectations. Remind yourself that you get to respond when it’s convenient for you and trust that if someone in your life has a concern or problem with that they will let you know, and if they don’t - that’s on them.
- Don’t take it personally. Remember that everyone has a different relationship to and bandwidth for texting. Just because someone doesn’t reply right away doesn’t mean that you aren’t important or that they are flaky. When in doubt, assume it’s not about you and they will get back to you in some way when they can.
Dr. Anna Roth is a Holistic Psychologist and Registered Yoga Teacher passionate about integrative and embodied treatment approaches to mental health. She thrives at identifying root causes and providing strategic intervention that is as multidimensional as the humans she helps. Heartfelt and holistic, Dr. Roth’s method folds in the best of psychology, somatics, spirituality, mindfulness, functional medicine, and yoga to bring about deep and lasting healing.