Today marks the halfway point of the phone break up challenge, and to be honest, I’m not as changed as I’d liked to be. I was beginning to get really down on myself the other day, but then I had a moment of clarity and I continue to feel hopeful and encouraged that while change isn’t happening as fast as I’d like, *it is* happening. I began with an average daily phone usage of 4 hours and 26 minutes. Wow! I’ve now gotten it down to 2.5 – 3 hours a day, and so I’m trying to focus on the positive and continue to move forward. Let’s get into a little bit of the nitty gritty.
How It’s Going
The first few days of the challenge started out amazing, as I turned off ALL notifications for every single app and went hours ignoring my phone. On a 3 hour road trip on day 3, I didn’t look at my phone at all aside from hitting play on different podcasts, and I got my usage down to 1 hour 20 minutes, a huge success. We spent some time in Joshua Tree and I continued to break free aside from taking a million photos and then editing them.
And then I returned to real life and I realized I use my phone for work A LOT.
I have a team of consultants who I mentor on a weekly basis and have to answer texts and respond to Voxer throughout the day. By turning off notifications for all apps including texts, I began missing messages from my team, which made me then feel even more anxious. I also have clients who on a regular basis get in touch with me to order via text, so I decided to turn notifications for text and Voxer back on.
Instagram Continues to Vex
I deleted Twitter off my phone, which has been a welcome relief, and I installed an app blocker on day 12 to help me curb my Instagram use, only to find out that the app blocker I invested $29.99 in, blocks ALL website content except those owned by Facebook, including FB, IG, Whatsapp and You Tube. Lovely, thanks Zuckerberg.
The hardest part is, I do legitimately use Instagram for business. Clients and prospective clients regularly message me on there, and of course I use it to post and interact with you all. It is literally my job to connect with and service my readers as much as possible and this app in particular makes it very hard to work around off mobile. It is not fully functional on a desktop, and when I did as the book and the Freedom app suggested, and deleted IG off my phone for periods of time throughout the day so I could go stretches without using it, it completely messed up the feed generator on my website and I haven’t been able to get it to work since! I am lucky that this is my line of work, so I’ve realized I need to adjust my expectations a bit more. It’s not really realistic for me to become a hermit, but I can continue to work hard to improve. 😉
Timing Is Everything
So April may have not been the best month to attempt such a huge challenge, as it is literally the busiest month of the entire year for our family with birthdays, kids sports programs, school events, etc. It is my birthday (and I spent a while responding to sweet & thoughtful birthday texts, but perhaps I should have called instead??). It’s also Taylor’s birthday which has required a lot of planning and communicating with parents of birthday party guests via text because these days, people in general just don’t have the same sense of need to respond to emails as texts. And this weekend is when I’m supposed to take my trial separation and not use my phone for the entire weekend, but that’s not going to work since it’s Taylor’s birthday party and I’ll have 6 girls in my care for a Friday-Saturday sleepover and party. I really can’t tell 6 parents that I’ll be unreachable for 36 hours.
Had I planned more in advance instead of diving in on a whim, who knows when I would’ve tried this challenge, as there’s always going to be some excuse for why we can’t do things. So I decided to just go for it anyway, while I was feeling motivated and now I just know I’ll have to adjust timing a bit and make it a 5 week challenge instead of 4 ;). Next weekend is now going to be my trial separation period.
But hey guys, I’ve still got my usage down an hour +!!!
One Surprising Insight
Art and I both installed the Moment app on our phone, and come to find out, he doesn’t use his phone nearly as much as I thought, so I’ve had to eat crow in that regard. He has not once said “I told you so” and for that I’m grateful 😉
Little Hacks That *HAVE* Helped
I stopped using my Apple Watch besides going to the gym, and have gone back to a regular watch, which has released me a bit from the endless texting.
I now keep a little notebook with me at all times. When I think of something I need to do or I get an idea or a come up with something I need to look up, I write it down and refer back to it later, when I’m through with my work or sitting at my laptop. This has definitely helped with attention span issues and increased focus because I’m not constantly misdirected. It’s helped cut down on the situations where I hop on my phone to add a book to my Amazon wish list and oh yeah, since I’m on Amazon I needed to order more deodorant and that reminds me, I need to respond to that IG readers question about which deodorant I’m using, and oh hey there Instagram, that’s a cute pair of shoes that girl has on! You see where this is going. The notebook hack has helped me tremendously, I highly recommend it.
I joined Slack to create a group with 2 of my friends who I brainstorm about business and blogging with. This has had a double positive effect in that it’s cut down on texting back and forth, and made our convos way more organized. We have created channels for helpful articles, podcasts, general brainstorming ideas, etc. Thanks for setting this up for us, Jessica!
I got a real alarm clock and no longer keep my phone charged at my nightstand to use as my alarm clock. This has helped me cut down on scrolling my phone first thing in the morning. There’s little tricks I can do like setting the Freedom app blocker to put my phone to sleep until 7 or 8 am, which I thought I’d need to do, but once I’m up and out of bed, I realized I’m no longer enticed at all to stand at the kitchen counter and scroll for 30 minutes through my phone. I now get up out of bed, go get my coffee, quickly check email and messages, and then hit my chair and start reading a book or my Bible until the kids get up. Getting the phone off my nightstand has totally broken that lay in bed and scroll habit.
I’m encouraged to keep going.
Besides jotting down notes that pop in my head, I’ve also used my notebook to jot down notes of who I want to be, and what I want our family to look like. Descriptor words and action items include calm, focused, relaxed, grow a garden, take more walks, go on more bike rides. I add to it and refer back to it often.
I still feel a strong pull to my phone and want to check it a lot. Like right now, I want to get up and go check my phone because I’ve been a good girl and haven’t looked at it in an hour. But the book has helped remind me to stop, take account of that pull, breathe, and redirect. This doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, and eventually I’d like the pull to go away all together, but for now, I’m encouraged and will keep working at it.
Please let me know if you have any questions at all and I’ll do my best to answer them when I’m sitting back at my computer 😉