3 Reasons Why You & Your Phone Should Take a Break

3 Reasons Why You & Your Phone Should Take a Break

In today’s busy world we are programmed to go go go! With the help of technology, the “go go going” is getting faster every day. We have cell phones that make dinner reservations, coffee makers that use iPods, and DVRs that record the television shows we like to watch so we can fast forward through them. With all of these devices I sometimes feel like George Jetson running on his treadmill in the sky. Why do we use all of these gadgets? So we can save time!

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/robas

But in the process of “saving time” I find myself wasting a lot of it on the same devices that were supposed to help free-up my time in the first place. While playing with my son, Jesse, I am on the phone texting, reading emails, looking up NBA scores and checking out Facebook. I realized that I am losing precious time with Jesse that I can never get back. He doesn’t have a pause or rewind button. If I miss one of his milestones, that’s it. There is never going to be another “first time”.

Life gives us an unknown amount of time on this earth so we need to spend it wisely. Have our gadgets really helped us save time? If so, what have we done with all the saved time? Think about the quality of your time, enjoying the moment and tuning in by turning off.

Virtual vs. Real – Instead of having a virtual conversation, have a real conversation. Really listen when somebody is speaking to you. You may miss that nugget of wisdom because you were two steps ahead of the conversation and eager to give your response without letting them finish their thoughts; and all because you are trying to save time. When you give time to others through listening and attention you not only improve the quality of your relationship but you spend your time wisely.

Enjoying the Moment – We have a tendency to worry about what happened yesterday and what might be in store for us tomorrow instead of enjoying the actual moment we are in. I become more aware of this when it comes to my son. I only have a few hours with him each day and I want those hours to become a lifetime of memories for both of us. In other words, I’m intentional about the time I spend with him.

Tune In by Turning Off – This is such a simple concept, yet I often see couples out to dinner checking their cell phones. I’ve been guilty of this on occasion – don’t make my mistake. The emails and messages are still going to be there in a couple of hours so have a great date! Anne wrote about the importance of allowing your mind to rest before bed and I’m also advocating that you do this as you enter into playtime with your kids or a date night. Either turn your phone off ahead of time or choose to ignore it when you’re with these special people. You will be happy you did.

Now take a moment and pause, no really . . . PAUSE.  Now, think of the simple things in life that make you happy and ask yourself these questions:

Do I struggle with enjoying the moment? What can I do to change that?

What can I do to improve the quality of my time?

Which relationships need more of my focused attention?




About Neil

I was born into a large Irish Catholic family in 1967 as the youngest of seven children.

My Grandfathers were best friends & coincidentally, both owners of funeral homes. John Cox (Oakland) had Joseph A. O’Connor (Los Angeles)or “Johnny” as his best man at his wedding. My parents, Joe & Jane O’Connor, met through the friendships of my grandparents.
I moved to Laguna Niguel as a child & graduated from Dana Hills High School in 1986. I served in the Navy before finally joining the family business in 1989 and establishing the 4th generation of our family-owned & operated business. In 2000, after the retirement of my father, I became the President & CEO of O’Connor Mortuary.
I met my wife, Lisa, in Maui while on a yoga retreat in 2003 and we now have a son –
Jesse Joseph O’Connor – the pride & joy of my life.
I still actively play Beach Volleyball at Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach and practice Ashtanga Yoga, I’m extremely passionate about these practices, about staying healthy and balanced in my body, mind & soul.
As CEO I am privileged to be involved with partners in our community such as Saddleback Hospital, Mission Hospital, Age Well Senior Services, San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce, TIP Trauma Intervention Program, and many others. My driving passion is to provide education, care & support to my family, friends & community.

I love helping others when they need it the most.

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  • Source: facebook.com via CJ on Pinterest

    Just found this and loved the correlation. I love this blog Neil & I lament how much I needed to read it. I remember in high school one of my pastors told me that the MOST important thing in life was relationships – people, the people that I forget to look at or acknowledge in favor of looking at something silly on my phone. Of course I do use it to communicate with a lot of people I can’t see face-to-face but the amount of time I waste on it NOT communicating is pretty shocking. Thank you so much for your ideas & challenges, I’m going to look at people tomorrow & keep my phone in my purse as much as I can. Really.

    • Molly –

      I am glad you enjoyed this post. I know we all can relate to one degree or another. I am committing my self to only use my phone when I have to, and not during family time. You are 110% right the only true meaningful things in life are our relationships, not applications, texts or emails. I have serious concern with how we are losing the value of deep relationships when we stop talking face to face. I know phones and applications have a place & time, yet they will never replace a beautiful face like yours!


      • aw!! So sweet! Thanks Neil!

  • Lori Bristol


    This is such a great post!
    I admit it, I’m guilty. I sit at dinner with friends and we are all on our phones.
    Is the world really going to end if I don’t answer that email instantly?
    I’m an iPhone addict! I will remember to leave it in my purse when others are present.


    • Lori –

      We are all guilty of this crime, losing touch with each other by technology. Like everything else in life this is a balance act. If you are ever so bold, next time when you go out with a friend for lunch or dinner, give them the phone challenge, make a pack that we will not pick up our phone during our meal, no matter what, or if you do check your phone then you have to buy the meal. Let me know if you can get some free meals?

      • Lori Bristol

        I will try this! I like it!

  • Kim Stacey

    I actually flew down to Los Angeles this past week, to attend the final concert of The Rock Bottom Remainders at the El Rey Theater. I’ve been a Stephen King fan for years and years, and just had to see him playing rock and roll with other fine writers like Amy Tan, Dave Barry, and Matt Groening…the wacky creator of The Simpsons. In the vernacular of the famous Frankie Vallie – “Oh! What a night!”

    I stayed “in the moment” as much as I possibly could; inching forward as taller people stood in front of me…raising their smartphones above their heads to shoot videos of the performance! I was stunned as I watched a large number (half?) of those there “playing” with their phones – checking emails, calling people, and taking pictures.
    The experience for them was much different that the one I had.

    Yes, I have a cell phone. No, it’s not “smart” (although you could argue it’s smarter than me…I still haven’t figured out how to use the darned thing – and seeing all the buttons, bells, and whistles is impossible without my reading glasses). But, I left it behind that night, to be fully, completely present. Who wouldn’t want to watch and listen closely as these fine writers slipped into their stage personae? I’m so happy I was there for their final performance. And so happy I was smart enough to leave my phone in my hotel room.

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Amen, Kim
      I wholeheartedly agree! All we have are our “moments to be present”. I appreciate your willingness to be all there!

    • Kim –

      It sound like you have a great feel for balance in you life and with you not so smart phone. I love your story, I am glad to see that you are rocking & rolling in LA. We will not go to our grave and say, ” Oh yah, can I check my email before I check out of here.” It sounds like a magical night, I am so happy to know you got 100% of the experience of staying in the moment. Namaste, XOXO!

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Great thoughts, Neil, and thank you for the great reminder.
    Here’s one thing I’ve learned as I move through my life . . . you CANNOT save time. It is what it is. It’s here and then it’s history. The cliché “save time” has really given us a false sense that we can hoard our minutes and use them later. What we need to learn is to be good stewards of our time and use it wisely. We should devote our time at work to accomplishing the tasks at hand. Our companies deserve that from us. When I ‘m with my friends or colleagues at lunch, my phone is turned off and in my purse. It doesn’t sit on the restaurant table as a reminder that “it” is more important than the company we are with. When I’m with my family – I’m with my family. I’m not tied to my phone. It’s not with me or near me. When I need to , I check it. I guess being older I realize that time is of the essence, and time spent with family and friends is precious. Is there a way to stop the connection we have to our phones? I think it comes down to knowing great IT etiquette. Don’t be rude. I’ve been in meetings where the person sitting across from me has their phone on the table and as we are talking they continually pick it up to look at it. My importance has just gone out the window. So let’s disconnect. Let’s not get so tied to these distractors that we miss the warmth of conversation and the look in someones eyes when they know you are truly “with them”. Let’s “take time” and make it a priority! Because before you know it . . . time’s up!

    • Hi Pat –

      WOW – you spoke the truth and I love you for it! Everything you have written is true in my life, GUILTY as charged! You have been a great teacher to me and I will recommit my self to you and others by keeping my phone off during our meetings and lunches. Thank you for your wise words of encouragement.


  • Neil,
    Thank you for posting this. Remember Molly’s quote in her blog? Wherever you are, Be There! I really notice this with my grandkids. It can make us feel so unimportant. Here we all are at a birthday dinner or holiday meal and everyone is checking their cells and texting with friends. It has done severe damage to the art of conversation. That person you are with feels less important. I get the same thing at times when I am talking to someone on the phone. I can tell when they are doing something else, trying to multi-task. They may be in front of their computer or trying in some way to do two things at once. You can’t really. So the conversation loses its value. Time to disconnect! We either disconnect with our devices or we will find that when we really need each other, it’s a little late. There’s been too much human disconnection already. Like Pat said above, make people, in the flesh, the first priority over the contact via the device.

    • Hi Anne –

      Some of my best conversations in life have been with you, we always can agree to disagree and still love each other. I have loved playing devils advocate with you, from politics, religion, music, you name it, you have a great opinion and passion for life and the art of conversations. Here is my family challenge I am going on, once I am home the phone is off. Do you think you could challenge your grandchildren to turn their phones off once they are with you? Let me know, hopefully they will not call the phone police on you.


  • Great post Neil…all so true!

    Not to mention the danger of driving with a cell phone in hand! What we think is urgent could very well be deadly!

    • Hi Joey –

      You are so right, unfortunately we have served a couple of families who died while driving on their phone.
      I hope this never happens to anyones family again.



    I’m so glad that you have witnessed this, pondered it and now have written about it. EVERY single word you have written is true. What is this absolute necessity to be connected every single moment of every day? To be connected to what? Trivia, idle discourse, app after app after app? Does one really have to “follow” the Kardasians as part of their daily lives? Live your own life, here and now.

    I’m from the generation that if you have something you want to say, then it should be important enough to want to call me. To want to hear total communication from me, and that means my VOICE. I believe that hearing the sound of one’s voice can be a wonderful thing. One’s tone can change the whole direction of a conversation and bring that communication to a higher level. (But if you are bothered by something I have done, by ALL means, text me or email me only) and what is this thing about yelling at people in CAPITAL LETTERS in tech conversation? How does one spell the word COWARD?

    Don’t get me wrong, of course communication technology is a wonderful thing and it can be efficient and useful and a terrific time saver.. But like everything else it has its boundaries. People must make a conscious decision to keep it in its place.

    As you have stated, life’s moments cannot be repeated. When my kids would act up when something important and of value was going on, I trained them. All I had to do was tell them “you are missing the moment” and they would settle down because they didn’t want to miss anything.

    In the 60’s (sorry, before your time) LSD druggies and their famous Guru, Dr. Leary, had a famous mantra, “tune in, and drop out”.

    In the 12’s, the new mantra for TECH druggies should be “turn off, and drop in”.

    Thanks for your words,


    • Patricia Kolstad

      Nicely said, Greg! Great comments worth adhering to.

    • Hi Greg –

      Thank you for your reply! You completely understand the value of staying in the moment, other wise you will miss something, something great. As you know, we have one chance in life to get most everything right, there is no application to send us back in time and repeat what we have missed because we choose to not pay attention. When we lose our attention we pay for it and we will never get it back. You have a great insight to staying present in the moment, I am learning from you everyday. Thank you Greg!

  • When will people learn? I read in the Yoga Journal that a VP of a major search engine firm, I think Google, said when he drives to work to he does not look at his phone or answer calls or emails. He simply remains mindful to his driving and the beautiful surrounding along his route. He meditates 45-minutes a day as well. This helps him manage his stress and contain emotions during his work day. If a VP can take a technology free hour, so can you.
    This is a great post my friends and something I share with others as well.
    HUGE HUGS Neighbors.

    • Hi Tanya –

      I love this story. I am going to take you up on this advise, my phone will be shut off when I am driving.

      Thank you for all your love and support, your comments on our blog and Facebook inspire me to keep moving forward. Your life’s journey gives me perceptive that every moment is precious.

      Thank you for being such a dear friend,


  • Lisa O’Connor

    I was guilty of this last night. Our son was really putting on a show for us and I was busy on my phone. Neil reminded me of this post… Busted! Thanks for the simple reminders and great date nights.

    • Hi Lisa

      I have been the guilty one!

      I will commit to you and Jesse that my phone will be turned off when I come home, unless I am on call.

      I love you!!!


  • Jeff Turner


    Guilty as charged…. Wow! Just when I was guilt free too. Well my friend it sometimes makes me long for the days before pagers even, when we were truly unreachable unless we were near our landline phone. We just called them phones. Oh, I’m old. This is another opportunity for needed discipline in my life.

    Thanks for detailing an elegant solution to not so complicated problem. I like what Greg said above, “turn off, and drop in”. Face to face is just more fun.


    • Jeff –

      Guilt free? Really?

      My new commitment to you is this, during our next meet my phone will be off the entire time. The rest of the world can live without me for a couple hours, it’s not like they need me anyways.

  • Shayna Mallik

    Wow Neil so TRUE!

    I am guilty as well. When I am out with friends or family I am always connected to my phone. As soon as I get an email or text or phone call I look at my phone and usual respond. After reading your blog I realize how those emails, texts, and phone calls are not that important and if I am out with my friends or family being with them is more important. I am sincerely going to not make my cell phone so important and when I am out not checking it constantly and enjoying the company I am with.

    Thanks fro the blog!!!!!

    • Hi Shayna –

      I am glad to see you observe this within you, you actually inspired me to write this, I am joking! As I mentioned I realized how much of my life was getting sucked into my phone with emails, Facebook, texts etc., and I was not in the moment with Jesse Joe. He is the gift God gave us not the iPhone. Steve Jobs was a zen man, I am not sure if he realized how much this technology takes away from our lives. Maybe I will text him and see if he answers, I doubt it?

  • Karilyn Leslie

    Thank you for this excellent topic. I had to deal with a situations a few weeks ago where I confiscated cell phones at the dinner table. As you know Kevin and I have 7 children, and we were blessed to have 4 of them and a couple of their friends home for dinner. I was frustrated when my step daughter’s cell vibrated and she immediately answered it. That started a chain reaction around the table. Like I had granted them permission my children and their friends had their phones in their faces. I stood up pushed out my chair and said “OK ENOUGH, hand them over!” Two of the culprits were over 21, but that didn’t make a difference, I’m still the MOM! They reluctantly handed over the devices and I dropped them into a basket. This gave my husband and I a great teaching moment and topic of conversation for the rest of the meal. I hope that more parents will dare to be bold, even with their adult children. If they don’t learn it from us, then where will they learn to “be in the moment?” Many times I have friends who say, “hey, how come you didn’t answer me?” or “you never responded to my post.” Here it is folks. I try really hard to be with my family when I’m not at work. Sure, I enjoy posting and texting, but I’ve come a long way at curtailing my phone use. This past weekend, my phone was plugged into the Bose doc while the family and I blasted tunes and worked around the house. Taking a techno break can be extremely satisfying.
    Love you my friend!! And don’t you or Lisa blink, before you know it he’ll be 21 sitting at your dinner table, as a hologram from somewhere else in the universe!!

    • Hi Kari –

      I love your story! That is a great teaching moment, the dinner table needs to be a place just for those who are at the table, all others can live for at least one hours without us. Someday your kids will appreciate you and your values. When can I come over for dinner? I promise I will be good too!

      • Karilyn Leslie

        You & your little fan are always welcome!! Bring your swimmies, we’ll throw JJ in the pool!!

        • Karilyn Leslie

          That was supposed to be “fam” but auto correct interfered!! Though I know JJ is your biggest “fan.”

  • True words. And I think it’s important to turn off the electronics not to just enjoy our loved ones, but to spend time with ourselves, and perhaps to hear that “still, small voice”.

    • Annette –

      Thank you for your reply!

      You are absolutely right we need to have time with ourselves to hear our inner voice in a very noisy world.


  • Neil, you are so right! In the past, I felt like I was chained to my cell & always had to check for new texts, emails, breaking news, etc. It was so distracting from the important things that were right in front of me. Now, I look forward to turning off the ringer & burying my cell in my purse so I can enjoy what is or isn’t going on in my immediate surroundings. Thank you so much for the reminder that some things can wait while you participate in your life as it happens. XOXOX Carrie

    • Carrie –

      You are welcome! I am glad you have found a new freedom in enjoying the real life. You deserve to have a balanced life and enjoy the moments that can make life full of fun and magic.


  • Amy

    So funny you wrote on this topic. It has been the topic at my house quite frequently. On several occasions I have had to take my girls phones away at the dinner table. I am trying to get them to understand that is our time together to reflect on the day without the interruptions of their phone going off. Who ever is calling or texting is not as important as your family you are with at that moment. They will still be there when you are done. I have to say it is a good feeling to be able to sit and talk without the interruptions. You forget how important the face to face communication is. Thanks for reminder of what’s important.

    • Hi Amy –

      Thanks for your reply! I am glad you can relate to this old man, going old school on you! The older I get the more I value relationships and conversations. One of my favorite times of the day is at the dinner time, when Lisa & I can talk about the day and life. Jesse Joe thinks it is time to shine and be the little joker he is, we call it the Jesse Joe show. Enjoy your dinner table time with your girls, as you know they will be out the door sooner than you know it.


  • Neil,

    Your personal insight and experience speaks to us all. I find it amusing when my cell phone rings and I don’t answer it; prompting others to tell me in a “Chris, your phone is ringing!!!” My response: “I am Lord over my phone.” There is a time and place for answering, calling, texting, emailing, Facebooking, Tweeting, Pinning and blogging. Thanks for reminding us all that we are the lords of our phones. Peace Always! Chris

    • Hi Chris

      I love your response!
      You are right you are the Lord of your phone.
      Just remember when I call………………. You better pick up.
      If I where you I would let it go to voice mail.


      • Christopher Iverson

        Thank God for caller ID!