Has Spending Less Time on My Phone Radically Changed My Life?

A few months ago, I felt the need to re-evaluate the relationship I have with my phone. I wouldn’t claim to be addicted to it but I know that I spend more time on my phone that I would like. Downloading various apps that track phone usage, only confirmed that I needed to work on spending less time on my phone.

I had come across the book ‘How to Break Up with Your Phone’ a few times and thanks to Amazon Prime, the very next day I was clutching it in my sweaty palms.

My motive wasn’t to ditch my phone altogether (I’m a blogger, come on) but to find a better balance. My phone had a hold on me that wasn’t healthy and as ‘finding balance‘ is my theme for 2018, it made sense to pursue that with regard to my phone usage too.

What I’ve realised over the years of blogging, is that if I’m going to announce these dramatic changes I plan to make, I need to follow up, if only for my sake. Has it made a difference? Am I able to stick to it? Was it worth doing?

Before starting this exercise, Catherine Price (the author of the book) encouraged us to write down what we wanted to get out of it. In the back of the book, I had written these words:

‘I want to be less distracted, more present and realise how productive I can be.’ย 

So here’s the million dollar question:ย Has spending less time on my phone made any difference to my life?

I think the answer to that question is ‘Yes’ in the following ways…

I am more productive

I think that one of the negative side-effects of having unlimited access to the internet and a whole pool of people to converse with via social media, is that we have a million tabs open in our brain as well as on our Google home page. The knock on effect of that for me, is that I am easily distracted and find it difficult to focus.

I bet I’m not the only one who has become accustomed to scrolling through their phone whilst watching a film. Or constantly checking in on social media when trying to do a practical (often boring) task. I don’t know about you but trying to multi task actually makes everthing take twice as long as it should.

Rome wasn’t built in a day though people, so this is something I’m still working on (especially the watching TV part) but I can at least now sit through the cinema without ‘checking in’ on Facebook andย I’ve written this entire blog post without feeling tempted to see how many ‘likes’ my latest Instagram post hasย  ๐Ÿ˜‰.

I’ve gained perspective

Not spending so much time on social media has reduced the pressure to post. Without realising it, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram (or Facebook for that matter) had led me to question everything. All the other posts I was consuming on a daily basis, seemed so much ‘better’ than mine – everyone’s life looked more exciting and their photography was enviable.

Feeling under pressure to share something impactful or inspiring, left me paralysed. When I did finally post, I would get frustrated by the lack of support I felt it deserved. I mean, what’s that all about?

By spending less time there, I care less about what I’m posting and the numbers are (fairly – I’m not completely cured) inconsequential . It makes total sense really.

I’ve read more books

One thing I stopped doing almost immediately, was taking my phone to bed. It annoyed me that I felt the need to scroll through social media and check for messages before going to sleep. Instead, I’ve gone back to reading before I turn the light off and I’m sleeping so much better for it. I always knew that I loved reading but only really indulged when on holiday – what a ridiculous notion!

I’m enjoying being fully present

When on holiday in New York last week, none of us had any data and it was sheer bliss. I didn’t miss not having it one iota. I think in the past I might have felt a little bit twitchy even at the thought of it.

Of course we managed to find some when in Starbucks and in our hotel room, but it was lovely to feel ‘off duty’ and not beholden to responding. It enabled me to drink in every aspect of my surroundings and to feel fully present.

The ultimate gain for me, is that I no longer panic when I realise I am without my phone, mainly because I know that it’s actually quite freeing. The other day, when I discovered that I had left my phone in the house, I didn’t turn back. In fact I realised that a walk without my phone might be quite nice. And guess what? No one died. In fact it was good to just enjoy the company of my daughter and the beautiful surroundings. No photography needed to record the moment, just my good old-fashioned memory.

Do you think your phone has an unhealthy hold on you?

What would you like to change?

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18 Comments

  1. July 20, 2018 / 10:36 am

    Love this Suzanne – sounds like the less-phone-usage thing is working really well for you. I’ve gone out of my routine (no scrolling before 9 and after dinner) a bit over the hols and really need to get back on track. You’re right about it making you less productive and less present, and reading more books is such a great bonus. I need to start taking my proper camera out instead of my phone to reduce the need for it. I can’t wait to hear all about your holiday by the way, it sounds like such an amazing trip! xx

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      July 25, 2018 / 12:12 pm

      You see I know that I can so easily get sucked back in and have learnt to put my phone away if I’m actually trying to focus on a task. Good luck with your quest to get back on track. xx

  2. July 20, 2018 / 2:32 pm

    Ahh this is so good. I need to use mine less too but I do find it difficult when the children aren’t with me because I do need to be available. I’ve turned off all the notifications though, which is helpful. I’m glad it has worked for you. I think I need to do something like this to increase my productivity when the children go back to school.
    Nat.x

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      July 25, 2018 / 12:13 pm

      Yes I have no notifications on mine either – I find there’s this sense of urgency to reply which I hate. Not having What’s App when in New York was actually blissful! It’s the only way I fully switch off. We’ve decided not to pay for wifi on our cruise either, much to the kids disgust ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. July 20, 2018 / 7:43 pm

    I haven’t read the book but I have tried to make some changes when I use mine, I try to never have it with me when I’m going to bed and you’re right, you do sleep better if you don’t have it with you. Sometimes I’m really good at not picking it up all the time then I’ll have a couple of bad days and have to make an effort to put it down. I like that it makes you more present, especially when you’re in New York! xx

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      July 25, 2018 / 12:14 pm

      Oh it really does. My sleeping is definitely better and if I’ve spent too much time on it during the day, I can actually feel quite low and unproductive by the end of it ๐Ÿ™

  4. Tricia Cooper
    July 21, 2018 / 7:21 am

    I have a rule never to take mine I. The bedroom at night(when in my home here in Cyprus) but do need to take it to ourbedroom when at Karen’s in our granny annex. I don’t have roaming data or whatever it is called so that helps. Unfortunately all our cafes at the beach now have wi fi so I do check layi g on my sunbed. My worst habit is looking at it every commercial break however the last 2 nights I have left it in the kitchen whilst watching TV. Ery hard breaking a bad habit. Do sit there feeling I’m wasting a few minutes but can always find a little job to do.

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      July 25, 2018 / 12:33 pm

      I think it’s very much about habits and we become programmed into almost doing things without noticing. Not having roaming data on is a really good idea then you can only use it at home.

  5. July 22, 2018 / 10:52 am

    That sounds really good! But in a way you’ve convinced me that my phone has less of a hold over me than I thought it had – I never check it while watching TV and I never have it in bed! I never look at people’s Instagram and feel inferior – because we’re all different, right? What matters to them is not what matters to me. They might have a beautiful house, but I can run fast! The only issue I have with it is looking at it when I’m supposed to be doing housework – putting washing away definitely takes twice as long when I have to keep tweeting and looking at photos taken by people I don’t know.

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      July 25, 2018 / 12:34 pm

      Really glad to hear that your phone doesn’t have the hold on you that you thought it did. Love your take on Instagram!

  6. July 23, 2018 / 10:13 am

    Love this Suzanne. I ordered the book after reading your first blog post on it, but have yet to finish it. I really need to plug my phone in downstairs overnight to try and break the habit of reaching for it when I can’t sleep. Especially over the summer when I don’t need it for an alarm clock! x

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      July 25, 2018 / 12:35 pm

      Yes I used to use the excuse that I need it for an alarm clock, now I just use my husband’s instead! He always has his on so there’s no need for two.

  7. July 23, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    Suzanne,

    This blogpost, and the comments on it so far, offer very interesting insights for me because I’m looking at the subject from a different angle. I’ve never had a mobile phone. (I shan’t be in the least offended if anyone disbelieves this.)
    When I’m away from my landline-connected PC, do I miss having access to the internet? No.
    Do I feel that I’m missing out because I’ve never had an account on Facebook or Instagram? No.
    Am I less distracted, more present and more productive than if I had a mobile? Yes, maybe and maybe.
    โ€œNo photography needed to record the moment, just my good old-fashioned memory.โ€ If you always record the moment primarily by taking a photo, it’s all too easy for any memory of the moment to fade. Then you are left with nothing but the photo.

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      July 25, 2018 / 12:35 pm

      Really interesting perspective here and I totally agree with you. I love to photograph a moment but I think sometimes it’s quite nice to just leave it in the memory, isn’t it? Probably something we need to exercise more often! I do absolutely believe you have no mobile – quite a refreshing thought!

  8. Alice
    July 25, 2018 / 12:55 pm

    YES my phone has an unhealthy hold on me…I’d love to not need it..I find myself checking it before I’ve even realised what I’m doing ๐Ÿ™ˆ love this post and so glad that it made a difference for you! Xx

  9. July 26, 2018 / 5:58 am

    Yes to all of this. I too have been making a conscious effort to be more present and it’s made a difference. I’ve read so many more books since deciding to only respond to messages at two specific times of the day. I’m not bothered in the slightest if I can’t check emails or Facebook (Instagram is another story though – it’s a platform I love and find really inspiring and uplifting) and numbers simply don’t matter to me. I’m so glad you’re feeling better as a result of making different choices Suzanne ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. July 27, 2018 / 3:13 pm

    I’ve recently downloaded an app which tells you how much time you spend on your phone and how much you pick it up. The results were alarming with one day in particular, me spending nearly 8 hours picking up and looking at my phone. My daily average was over 5 hours. I monitored for a whole week to see if there were emerging patterns, there were. From that point I promised myself I would change my ways. Almost 2 weeks on, I’ve reduced my daily average to less than 2 hours – and you know what – I don’t feel out of touch, or lost, or panicked. Like you, I’ve taken to reading more before bed and am also feeling the benefits from a better night sleep. I recommend a digital detox to everyone!

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      November 13, 2018 / 4:28 pm

      This is brilliant, Kim! I think when we suddenly realise how much time we losing to our phones, we have a little wake up call. So glad that it’s made such a difference to your life. Have you managed to keep up with it?

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