Since we last spoke about it, there's been a little time to sit with the thoughts we all shared about smartphone usage and their place in our lives.
I was blown away by your sentiments! Not just your willingness to comment with, "Yes, I feel that way too!" but the details of your stories, you shared so much of your personal struggle with this type of technology.
It was definitely a kindred moment. We are so in this together.
A few of you championed your smartphone's value with no feeling of overuse or distraction - you are so lucky! For me, I wasn't in a place of harmony, hence my desire to write all those words about it.
So where do things stand now? Am I getting rid of it?
It turns out that I'm committed to my contract for the remainder of its term (almost a year to go). With two other people on the contract, even if I did pay the exit fee or was released due to zero service at our home, it would still mess up what my other family members have going on and neither of them feel quite the same level of disdain for their phones.
So, I'm keeping it for now, but I have implemented a few changes. Which low and behold... have resulted in improvements to my overall life. Love how that works.
What has been working for me:
1. Don't take the phone to bed.
This is actually something I wasn't in the habit of doing. There is always the exception to the rule, but for the most part (at least 85% of the time), I don't take my phone upstairs at night. This is intentional as I don't want my phone to be the last thing I see each day, or the first thing I reach for in the morning. Two things that can easily happen if the phone is by the bed. Some people use their phone as their alarm clock, but maybe just going back to a regular alarm clock is a better idea.
2. Let the darn thing die.
The main reason for me to have a cell phone is for when I'm out of the house. Over the last few weeks when my phone battery dies at home (which seems to happen quickly with an iPhone), I just let it sit, uncharged. When I know I'm leaving the house again, I'll charge it up for an hour or so before I head out. I don't leave the house every day, so this has provided quite a bit of hibernation time for my little phone.
3. Put the phone down.
I love the comment Emily left on my last iPhone post. She said, "...one of my new year's resolutions was to 'put the phone down' - as in, leave it near the door, don't use it in the house, stop feeling like I need to look at it all of the time."
Oh my goodness, Emily, these words have been with me since you wrote them. A simple mantra to come back to over and over. Put the phone down.
Sometimes when I'm out and about now, and my hand slips into my coat pocket reaching for my phone, the words "put the phone down" come to mind. A silent check-in, allowing me to pause for a moment. Do I really need/want to do this with my time right now?
4. Be mindful when I'm a passenger in the car.
This was a place of weakness/overuse for me. I'm still working on it. Cars can be a place of anxiety for me, I always feel like there are too many cars on the road and they are all moving too fast. Connecticut is the fourth most densely populated state in the country (739.1 inhabitants per square mile), and to me, it feels like it! When I'm a passenger with Adam, I find that I'll gaze down at my phone as a distraction from this anxiety (I can't read a book without feeling queasy). I recently discovered that I can knit in the car so that has been coming with me as a distraction. (Also, sometimes I distract myself with nothing and try to just be with that little ol' anxiety of mine...)
5. Do keep it on the table at restaurants (if Emily is not with us).
Many of you expressed sadness at watching people stare at screens instead of each other when in public, I know what you mean. When I'm out and about these days, and find myself reaching for my phone - I do stop and think about my actions. And now more than ever my phone stays tucked away, deemed not really needed or wanted in that moment. Realizing I was just bored and looking for a distraction.
The exception is when Emily is not with me. This is one of the main reasons for me to have a cell phone in the first place. For instance, each Friday night Emily goes to debate club and Adam and I often go out to dinner. One of us will always keep our phone on the table, just in case she needs to text us for any reason. I think the very best thing about this type of technology is how it allows us to stay in easy contact with our children. So if you see me in a restaurant with my phone on the table... I just need to be available for my kiddo. I won't be checking email though. ;)
6. Allow questions to linger.
I loved that so many of you thought it was okay to let go of the urgency to google every little question or curiosity throughout the day. Or better yet, engage a friend with your questions! So easily if anything pops into our head we reach for our smartphones to "look something up." But really, must we have every bit of information at our fingertips or would it be okay to contemplate something on our own before confirming (or denying) our ideas through through the internet?
7. Set the example.
What am I modeling to my daughter? It's really as simple as that.
8. Keep it out of sight.
Out of site, out of mind, yes? What about an intentional barrier between me and my phone? Something that says, "Hey, hold on there girl... is this really what you want to be doing right now?"
All of these seemingly unrelated photos in today's post actually have everything to do with my phone. Well, they also have to do with calico being 40% off at Joann's recently, but I had this crafty idea to help keep my phone in its place.
Because these sort of healthy life changes should also be cute.
Except even though you have literally sewn hundreds of zipper pouches over the years, it's been ages since your last pouch was sewn... so you will forget how to do it and one will surely be too small while the other will have its zipper sewn on inside out. Hmph...
But you will make a third pouch this afternoon that will hopefully be just right... because that one extra step before picking up the phone to "check one thing" will most definitely add up to extra minutes of living and less minutes of phone checking. So worth it.
These steps have significantly reduced my cell phone use in recent weeks. Really, for me, it comes down to mindfulness. I was becoming aware of something in my life that was growing into a habit instead of its intended use as a tool. I needed to make a choice. I felt kind of isolated in my thoughts about the whole thing, but then I put it out there and you all got it too. And that really solidified my resolve for change.
So thank you, if I could sew cozy little zipper pouches for all of you, I would. (And I'd make sure the zippers were right side out, too.)