The first step is admitting you have a problem, right? Well I do, and it happens to be an addiction to the thing that comes with me everywhere.
The thing that is hard about this addiction is that it’s very socially acceptable. It’s actually socially UNacceptable to not be attached to your phone. To take too long to text/email/call someone back. I’m guilty of being annoyed with people for not answering me quickly. And I’m just perpetuating the problem.
So I’m taking a month off. Not from using my phone entirely, but from the habits I’ve created that are simply getting in the way of my life. I’ve created a list of rules for myself:
1. I cannot use my phone for more than 30 seconds while in a group of people. I’m sick of it creating a barrier between me and the people I am interacting with. A quick text is one thing—an entire conversation with someone via text while I’m sitting with someone else is another.
2. No phone while watching TV or a movie. One screen is plenty.
3. The phone can only be unlocked while I’m in bed if I’m turning an alarm on or off. As of now, I scroll Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every.single.morning before I’m even fully awake. And I usually do it before I go to sleep too. This rule alone will add minutes to every day of my month, which leads me to my next rule …
4. I can only sign onto social media if there is a purpose. I hate that I just check to check. It’s meaningless and steals so much of my time. I can sign on to post something or look something up, but I’m going to try to keep the apps open for less than 60 seconds at a time.
5. My phone must stay in my purse or out of sight while I’m in the car with my husband. Too many times we will drive somewhere and I’ve shut him out because my head is in my phone.
6. My phone will no longer sit between my legs while I am driving. I can use it to look up directions if absolutely necessary, but it has no business being in my hand otherwise if I’m behind the wheel.
7. No more Candy Crush. That’s right, I said it. The bathroom and waiting in line for things just because a whole different ballgame. But the game does literally nothing for me and contributes a big fat ZERO to my life.
8. I can only use my phone in the grocery store to check my list. I don’t want to continue mindlessly scrolling while standing in line and missing pleasant interactions or come across as rude because my head is down.
9. Voxer will only be checked twice a day. A big part of me picking up my phone is the little notifications that come up on my Voxer app telling me that people are talking to me. I will now limit my interaction with it to twice a day: once at noon and once in the early evening. That way I can respond to people in a reasonable time but not feel glued to it.
Now, I won’t be taking a complete break from my phone. I will still call my family often, and probably while driving, using my cup holder as a ghetto hands-free option. I will also still FaceTime with my niece and nephew whenever they want. I will still take notes throughout the day on my phone—it’s the handiest notebook there is. I will still be posting on social media and taking photos using my phone. But it will be done quickly and sparingly (see rule #4). I really want to focus on not spending idle time on my phone. There are things to see, people to talk to.
My phone habits may seem mindless, innocuous even. But they have eliminated productive silence from my life. I no longer have time during the day where my mind wanders, uninhibited and uninterrupted. People (including me) say they do the best thinking in the shower. You know why? Because there is nothing else to do in there. There is nothing distracting my mind, nothing pulling at my attention. I am so excited to see where my mind takes me when there is nothing getting in its way.
I’ve also noticed the difference it’s made in my friendships. I never used to pull out my phone when people were talking me. I don’t know when that became OK to do, but I crossed that line at one point and I would like to go back to the other side again.
For my friends, please be patient with me this month as I change some of these things. I will respond less often and probably not immediately. Not always, but most of the time. If you really need me, email me. Or call Travis. He has a healthy relationship with his phone where he only picks it up when he actually needs it. I’m sorry, please, and thank you in advance.
Like anything in life, moderation is key. And if I can have an intentional relationship with my phone rather than a constant, nagging one, I feel like it could become a powerful tool again in my life instead of one that controls me. Phones, social media and internet have the best intentions of connecting us. I would like to see if it’s even possible.
I would love for people to join me in this, for accountability and camaraderie. Have I missed any important rules? Anyone out there willing to take this challenge with me?