I don’t know about you but I’m so sick of my mobile phone. Don’t get me wrong, my phone is useful in so many ways — it allows quick access to email, keeps me in close touch with family and friends via text and connects me always to work through a myriad of apps (Slack, Evernote, Shopify). Let’s not forget the myriad of apps I use to manage my life (Uber, Headspace, 8fit…). Oh, and google maps, the calendar, calculator, weather network, timer and most importantly the camera. Wait, did I forget Instagram? I’ve just proven my point…I rely on my phone A LOT.
But lately I feel annoyed with how often I find it in my hands without knowing exactly how it got there. There are times when I hold it even though I have other, more important things to hold (like my baby maybe?). But no, I MUST HAVE MY PHONE. Why is this? Why do we mindlessly, manically cycle through all the potential updates and incoming messages from email, text, instagram, facebook, snapchat, every few minutes? Why do we allow ping and dings to interrupt our most precious resource — our time? What is it about this devilish little device that we now feel empty or lost without?
I think I just started the answer to my own question… We’ve ratcheted up our pace to the point where we don’t know how to deal with pauses, silences, breaks in between the noise. Not only do we not know how to deal with them, they actually make us viscerally uncomfortable. So we fill up every moment with activity and tell each other how busy we are. Too busy for deep thinking, contemplation, reflection or significant work. If only we had the time, the things we could do…
Let’s not kid ourselves…we have an addiction to our phones and it is one we can break. But only if we really want to. We have to see that the value that comes from unplugging now and then and the accompanying silent moments is greater than the value we gain from seeing the latest instagram posts or watching every email as it comes in.
This subject has been on my mind for a while, but mostly because I have fallen victim to it. And I knew I had to give myself motivation for becoming untethered from my phone before tackling how to do it.
Here are three serious benefits to breaking up with your phone (you can still be friends!):
- You will notice and appreciate the little things again. When you put your phone away, even for a little while, you rejoin the world around you. You notice the boldly stylish girl crossing the street, feel the warm breeze across your shoulders and see the lovely shadows created by the newly blossomed trees on the sidewalk. All those seemingly small things remind you you’re alive in a way that an instagram post never could.
- You will feel more connected to your inner self. Once you move past the initial discomfort of not reaching for your phone, take a few deep breaths and become aware of your own presence. How do you feel, physically, emotionally, spiritually? Are you hungry, tense, depleted? Often we move through our days completely unaware of what might be driving our thoughts, moods and actions. Letting go of your phone as crutch can bring you closer to knowing what is happening within you.
- You will become less reactive. Why has everything become urgent? And who and what is deciding what is urgent for you? Even while writing this post I had to hold myself back from looking at incoming messages, nevermind that it might completely interrupt my train of thought. React to the things that YOU deem important versus letting your notifications decide for you.
If you’re now on board with at least reducing the intensity of your relationship with your phone, here are some ideas around how to do it:
- Set clear boundaries I don’t keep my phone plugged in my bedroom at night which means it is never the last thing I look at night (usually its an actual book instead) and is also never the first thing I look at in the morning (always my husband and baby girl!). I’d like to go one step further and set a cut off time for looking at my phone in the evening. Setting clear boundaries for how you will use your device makes it easier to commit to using it less. Some other easy ones — keep your phone away when with other people, during meals and while walking and driving (I know this should be obvious…but who hasn’t done this!)
- Make a list of what you could be doing besides checking your phone.Do you ever find yourself sitting on the couch with your phone and suddenly an hour has gone by and you’ve done absolutely nothing? One day I quickly jotted down some things I could do instead of mindlessly checking my phone…(I’m sure the list could be much longer!)
- Scan your surroundings and do a quick tidy up or redecorate
- Write a thank you letter or a note to a friend
- Plan your tomorrow or your week (on paper!)
- Go for a walk
- Look up a new recipe (when is the last time you looked through a cookbook?)
- Cuddle someone you love
- Start planning your next holiday
- Read an actual book
- Listen to a whole record
3. Introduce some joyful rituals into your life. Let’s not focus only on the “don’ts” and instead get back to all the ways we can plug back in to life when we aren’t tethered to our phones. Bring some creativity and presence into everyday rituals like getting dressed, preparing or serving a meal, turning in at night or entertaining friends. We tend to rush through these every day, necessary parts of life, but giving care and attention to them reminds us of the pleasures of being human.
Despite everything I’ve written here, I really value my mobile device. It most definitely makes my life more manageable and efficient. Used wisely, it is a tool that can support us in staying connected to those we love and help us to achieve our goals. I think the key is to teach ourselves to use it as one of the many tools in our toolbox and not allow it to become a vice that impedes our quality of life.
You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be. - Marianne Williamson