The LookUp Times - Live In The Moment, Stay Focused & Reduce Screen Time

Sidebar with the founder of LookUp

Posted by Nicole Baqai on

How LookUp became LookUp

Hey, my name is Nicole and I have been grinding since I was 13 years old and when I moved with my family from Europe to Seattle. 

Life in the US kicked off with working my butt off to get straight A’s in high school, while joining 5 different extracurriculars, playing a sport, and applying to top colleges across the world. Then VROOM. I’m at the University of Southern California. Four of the best years of my life. There I kept up with every social activity, class and adapted to living in a new city that was even faster paced than what I’d experienced in Seattle. I was partying, dancing, living, studying and repeating it all week after week. The thoughts of how I could fit in more, how I could achieve more, were constantly running through my mind.  Somehow, though, on top of that there was a whole new world competing with my current one, taking  up so much of my space & time. Instagram. 

I saw my friends change and adapt and they began to focus on posting the perfect picture or at least creating the “perception” of the perfect moment captured. And I was doing the same. In fact, I catch myself still doing the same. It felt like the digital world became reality and constantly being available for communication became the norm. I was phone-obsessed, phone-reliant and I was developing a phone-addiction. 

Fast forward post college where I went straight into an Accenture consulting career. MORE GRIND. MORE INSTAGRAM. Then I was off to NYC, talk about continuing to ramp up on pace of life, to work at two startups that redefined what it meant to GRIND. More work, more events, more pictures, more posts, and pretty soon…. I snapped. It was November 2022 and I didn’t want to run or to “hustle” anymore.” I was deeply exhausted and all I wanted was to find peace so I asked my team if I could take a mental health break or “sick leave” to go upstate to a phone-free retreat I decided to curate for myself.

The first day of no-phone was weird. I didn’t really know what to do with the jitters. I felt confused that the hours that used to go by so quickly were now soooo slow. I decided to walk into town and grab groceries for the week which would kill 2 hours. Now what? 

Then day 2. I woke up in a sweat, went to grab my phone to realize it was off. I could do this - I thought to myself. I decided to do a workout and then walked the property again. I was so in my head asking myself why I was doing this and putting such stress on myself. Then I kept asking myself “when could I ever do this for myself again?” Best to take advantage of the opportunity. I later met the property manager and he offered to take me on a walk the next morning. He said he’d meet me downstairs at 10 am. I got nervous that I'd sleep in because of not having a phone alarm.

But to my suprise on day three, I woke up rested. I checked the clock and it was 8am. I couldn’t believe I didn’t feel groggy. I had no idea what time I actually went to bed, but I didn’t have this high-stress tightness in my chest that I needed to be somewhere or do something - I could just be. 

After all of my tech-sales burnout I didn’t really want to talk to anyone, but oddly with this property manager I felt so chatty. There was something different. Pure, genuine connection. I didn’t have to care about his social status or what he did for work - I was so excited to just ask him questions and interact with someone without needing to close a deal. He was the happiest man ever and thought he had the best job in the world. I’ll never forget it and how much of an awakening it was that I didn’t need to be the best or to be constantly striving to do more - I already had it all.

I slept great on the fourth night. I journaled every day and had nowhere to be. No constant notifications pinging me and taking my thoughts away that I couldn’t find a way to grasp back. The reaction to respond right away fell away.

It was on this journey that I started to reflect on how I could bring this short but life-altering experience to other people during a time when phone-detoxing isn’t yet prevalent, or always accessible without going away to a retreat. A time where millions of people spend more time on their phone than they do interacting with others. Where anxiety and depression rates are higher than ever, including mine. I thought, what if I looked up more instead of down? All the things I missed by looking down, whether it was walking in NYC  and not remembering how I got home, or being with friends and not feeling present because I was texting someone who wasn’t there. I was so phone-reliant. What was the solution to my phone impacting my happiness? A phone lockbox was my  first thought. I felt so strongly that I decided to quit my job and figure out how I could create a solution out of an unexpected concept that serves more as a reminder to look up, than a punishment for looking down, that can live within our homes. Enter… LookUp. A brand here to invent fun, unexpected, and functional objects that help to remind you just how good life can be when you put your phone down.