There’s a lot I could write about my love-hate relationship with my phone, but I’d like to *try* and keep this post brief so all I’ll say is that I don’t love our current arrangement. I check it too often, usually when I’m feeling bored or anxious about something, and I waste too much time on it. And although I often use it for entertainment or educational purposes (listening to music, podcasts or an audio book), I feel like I’ve let that turn into a constant habit, rarely enjoying silence & the sound of my own thoughts. And while I’m pretty good about avoiding my phone in social situations to be more present, and try and make it a point to keep phubbing down to a very bare minimum when I’m with family and friends, I recognize that sense of excitement and anticipation when I finally do check in on my phone after an extended hour + break, and it kinda feels yucky to get excited about reuniting with an electronic device.
After hearing the author of How To Break Up With Your Phone, Catherine Harris, on a podcast, I decided to buy her book and see if her break up methods were something I could benefit from. I devoured the book and found her research and data compelling enough to say “Sign Me Up” for this challenge with zero hesitation. Truth be told, I didn’t actually need any data or studies to convince me of what I already knew; I’m addicted to my phone, and so I’d like to rebuild my relationship with it. Here’s how I’m starting.
First task, download a tracking app to see how often and how much time I spend on my phone. It’s 3:20 pm and so far I’ve spent 59 minutes on my phone, which if I’m being honest, is probably low. Price suggests not changing any of my habits at all in the first few days, just to get an honest tracking of data, but it’s hard to not limit use and check-ins when you know an app is tracking every move! A couple of things about the app that I’ve already taken note of; it doesn’t tally phone calls as usage minutes, probably because it wants to encourage talking to real humans and not penalize you for it. I do appreciate this because I spend a lot of time doing coaching calls with my Beautycounter team 3-4 days a week. Today alone I’ve spent 1 hour and 25 minutes gabbing on the phone with team members. It also doesn’t track the time spent listening to music, audiobooks or podcasts, as long as you listen with the phone in lock mode. While I want to spend more quiet time alone with my thoughts, I also don’t want to feel “penalized” for using my phone for education (audiobook) or relaxation (music) purposes.
Days 2 and 3 are spent getting real honest with myself. I’ve already followed the prompts and answered the questions which includes assessing my current relationship with my phone, paying more attention to why I use it, and what I want my relationship with my phone to look like. Now would be a good time to point out that the purpose of the book and the break up is not to stop using your phone altogether, but “to set boundaries so that we can enjoy the good parts of our phones while also protecting ourselves from the bad.” Questions I had to ask myself and answer were:
- What do I want to pay attention to?
- What do I love about my phone? What don’t I love about it?
- What changes do I notice in myself – positive or negative – when I spend a lot of time on my phone?
- What would I like my new relationship with my phone to look like, a month from now, at the end of the breakup?
- How do I change with phone use? Emotionally, physically? Does my posture change, do I feel more happy or sad before and after phone use?
- How do I feel when I don’t have my phone with me?
- How does it make me feel when others around me use their phone?
- Is there a certain trigger that I find makes me repeat the habit of picking up my phone on a consistent basis? For instance, do I reach for it first thing in the morning because it’s on my nightstand and functions as my alarm clock?
Day 4 is time to take stock and take action. After tracking phone usage for a few days, it’s time to analyze it. Now that I know how many times I’m checking my phone, and how many times it interrupts me, how does that make me feel? What is it that always seems to grab my attention and interrupt me? How did I feel emotionally and physically before and after each time I used my phone?
Bottom line, the first few days are all about mindfulness and checking in with the extent of my habit, what the triggers of my habit are, and how is my habit affecting me both physically and emotionally?
Day 5 is when I’m supposed to delete social media apps and keep them off until the end of the 30 day period. This isn’t a problem for me with the exception of Instagram, since I use it so much for business. I need to think about this and what I can do about it. The author writes that I don’t have to follow every single action item, so I’m thinking that perhaps I’ll just keep IG on my phone but set myself up with strict parameters for its use? I’m still thinking on this one 😉
Day 6 is when we focus on real life. I had to answer the following: What have I always love to do? What have I always wanted to do? If I had more time, I would do XYZ. Some activities that I know put me in flow are XYZ. People I woud like to spend more time with are XYZ. In other words, as I work on using my phone less, what can I do more of in real life?
Day 7 is time to get physical, which luckily isn’t an issue for me hooray! I already exercise on a regular basis and take the dog for a walk and in general get physical quite a bit by just being a mom of 3 kiddos. This won’t be hard for me, BUT, I do want to more often leave my phone at home when going on walks, and get out of the habit of checking my phone intermittently when I’m working out at the gym.
I’m only on Day 1 so wish me luck and I’ll report back in a few day and let you know how it’s going. So what do you think, could you benefit from a new relationship with your phone or do you feel pretty good about your usage? If you answered yes to the first question, please feel free to join me in the challenge, as I’d love some company! If instead you answered no to the first question and yes to the second, please tell me how you’ve kept a healthy relationship with your phone. Would love to add any tips to my toolkit!