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.’
So here’s the million dollar question: 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 and I’ve written this entire blog post without feeling tempted to see how many ‘likes’ my latest Instagram post has ?.
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?