It’s been over 30 days since I began the phone break-up challenge, so I thought I would give a little recap of how it all went. Please note that as I mentioned in my last blog post on the topic, due to being out of town for 2 weeks in a row, I hadn’t yet taken part in the final phase of the challenge, the “Trial Separation” where I completely detach from my phone for 36 hours, but I do have it scheduled in for this weekend. I plan on sharing how that went via my newsletter as to not bog you all down with another blog post on the subject, so please make sure to subscribe to my emails so you don’t miss it if you’re interested.
The Bottom Line:
While I still use my phone more than I’d like, my overall usage is down compared to when I began, and I’m a TON more mindful of how and when I use it. My job is such that it requires me to be connected more than I originally thought I wanted to be, but how I view my phone has changed significantly over the past 30 days. When I began, I wanted to throw my phone in the ocean I was so sick of it, and after 30 days of very mindful use, I came around to appreciating it for the good it can and does serve in my life, and I no longer feel so resentful towards it. For instance, I truly find a lot of joy in mentoring and coaching my team, often done through face time, 3 way calls, Voxer and texting. That can’t happen if I’m completely disconnected. So I’ve let go of worrying about the *amount of minutes* spent on my phone, and instead look at *how* I’ve used those minutes. Was it to help a teammate, was it to text with a friend or my mom and connect in a circumstance that didn’t allow for a phone convo? Was it to take notes in Evernote of a really helpful & insightful podcast, rather than just spending time scrolling like a zombie? So yes, I still spend a significant portion of my day on my phone (average is 3 hours, down from 4.25), but with intentional effort, I can feel good about the time spent because for the most part it was necessary, fulfilling and worthwhile.
Escapism is still okay when done with intention 😉
With that being said though, I do allow myself occasional vegging out time on my phone. For instance last night I was feeling hurt and sad after finding out I wasn’t included in a friend’s birthday celebration. Kids were in bed, Art was watching the game, and I needed/wanted a distraction. I was too exhausted to focus on reading, and I didn’t want to watch TV, so I surfed YouTube for 30 minutes and watched funny sketch videos on Calvinists. Yes, I’m weird. But even then, my vegging out time was intentional. I knew I was using my phone as escapism from feeling hurt, and I was okay with that. I figure we are allowed to occasionally dull our feelings with silly vices 😉
A few new habits I’ve adopted and insights I want to share, in addition to the ones I previously noted include:
We finally hooked up a land line again, and so now I can use the home phone and not get distracted scrolling before or after a phone conversation
I swapped out my Apple watch for a good old-fashioned watch (I love my Daniel Wellington 40 mm for daily use).
A great trick I adopted from the author of the book, is when I really need to get work done where my phone would just serve as a distraction (like writing this post) I keep it plugged in another room and use it only in that space. So I now have to get up from my desk and stand at the kitchen counter to use my phone, as opposed to just transporting it with me from room to room.
I now carry a book and journal with me everywhere always, without exception. In life, there will always be inevitable down time. Waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting through your kid’s gymnastics class, and even just unexpected events that leave you stuck somewhere, where it would really be enjoyable/helpful to do something other than stare at the walls. So I make sure to ALWAYS have a book and journal with me to either read or write down random thoughts I have as they pop in my head.
I do my very best to leave my phone in my purse/pocket when waiting in line or just walking around so I can interact with the world and those around me. Even the most introverted of us are designed to thrive off of human connection and interaction, and I suspect that too often we deprive ourselves of those interactions on a daily basis because we have our face in a screen. I challenge you to look around the next time you’re at the grocery store or waiting for a flight at the airport and see how many people have their noses stuck in their phones. When you start paying attention, it’s shocking how prevalent it is. It’s like buying a car you swore you never saw on the road much, and then BAM, suddenly you see them everywhere. Last week while waiting to board my flight to Minneapolis, I had an interaction with a 79 year old woman who was going home after taking care of her adult daughter for the past month, who had just had a heart attack. It was a good exercise in listening and compassion for me, and for her, sharing her story I could tell, felt good to get off her chest. I have countless simple, boring, and yet wonderful examples I can share like this, that have occurred in the past 30+ days since I’ve been paying attention.
Everyday I am more and more convinced that these ordinary interactions, where we connect with our closest family members or strangers we’ll never see again, are what truly make us more human, loving, caring and thoughtful people. I know that too often my phone was robbing me of those interactions and I’m glad to have them back in my life.
I’ll end this post with a few thoughts the author of How To Break Up With Your Phone shared with me on Twitter after she read my last post. They were extremely helpful in helping me re-frame my attitude towards my phone. These are transcribed straight from her tweets:
“Thanks for sharing your update! A couple thoughts: One, CONGRATULATIONS: I know you want to get your hours down more, but to me your post makes it clear that you’re very conscious of when/how you use your phone & that itself is a major success. In general, I’d try to reframe things a bit—It sounds like you’ve thought carefully about your phone usage and realized there are certain aspects you need for work—so no need to beat yourself up about those. it’s not about abstinence; it’s about consciousness. The trick is to not let legit work use of your phone to lead to randomly scrolling thru Instagram for hours. You could put troublesome—but necessary for work—apps into their own folder (NOT on home screen) & use browser versions for pleasure. Lastly (well, not really—I could go on forever!) I personally make a point of trying to only use my phone at home while it’s plugged in—which means I have to get up from what i’m doing & stay tethered to it. Makes it a much more conscious activity. Good luck! Ack! one more thing! instead of focusing on absolute time spent on your phone, I’d suggest focusing on the utility/pleasure of that time. If it’s useful/necessary/pleasurable, then no need to force arbitrary restrictions on yourself.”
To close, without a doubt I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in establishing a new relationship with their phone. It has helped me tremendously, and I’m grateful for the help it provided. Once again, the book is How To Break Up With Your Phone, and here is Catherine’s Phone Break Up website you can visit to get additional resources.