Week 2: Ignoring my phone is hard... but I've got this.


I can do this.


Two weeks ago I mentioned that I wanted to stop using my phone as much.

Well, here's my obvious update to that: it's really hard to do.

I started off really well. I was using TimeTag to keep track of my 'phone time' vs. 'away from phone' time. My ratio was kickass-- 95% of my day was spent not holding my phone, and 5% of it was. There were a few times where I picked up my phone reflexively, but then felt I didn't want to break my timer streak. The accountability definitely helped.

Then I became a little lazy...and the whole thing fell apart. I mindlessly scrolled through Instagram again, and checked on mail obsessively, and generally just held my phone and stared at it for no reason. 

It wasn't until the end of last week that I was like: "OK. ENOUGH. This has got to stop." I felt like someone trying to quit sugar -- it's that hard. I kept having the feeling that my phone held information that I needed and that if I didn't immediately check, then terrible things would happen.

However, I am determined to not lose this goal. As a result, I added a few strategies that have helped me curb my addiction, and get me back on track:

  1. I started noticing people around me in public, watching how they'd spend 99% of their time with their head down staring at their screen. Observing this behavior as a kind of anthropologist/outsider really makes you realize how silly the whole act is. I became really conscious of just how easy it was to miss out on the world around you, and how much of your life experience is stolen by some glass and aluminum. (Or worse, sometimes I'd walk by a park and see something fun happening like a huge pillow fight on national pillow fight day..and observe that most of the people were experiencing this awesome spectacle through a 5" screen rather than with their own eyes...)
  2. I bought a Fidgetland toy. I was intrigued by the concept when I saw it on Shark Tank, and figured I'd spend the few dollars to give it a try. I've been enjoying it so far. It helps to keep me occupied just enough that I don't pick up my phone in those moments I normally would-- like when I'm coding and I'm waiting for my project to finish building. I'll just pick up the toy, play with it for a few seconds, and then go back to work. Since there's nothing too complex about it, I don't get sucked down a rabbit hole of distraction.
  3. Finally, I reminded myself about my motivation for this goal. I want to stop living and dying by my phone because I have found that my best ideas come when I allow myself to be bored for a few minutes. If I just sit and exist for a while, whether or not my mind is busy or quiet, I start to come up with really cool ideas. Other times I become interested in reading a book or writing, and I set out to do it. All of these activities are infinitely more fulfilling than being a consumer of my phone, so I end up happy.

Ultimately, ignoring my phone is isn't about not using it, or about shunning technology. It's just about gaining control over the habit of using it mindlessly. When I need it, it's OK for me to grab it and use it-- like mapping myself somewhere, or using TimeTag to start/stop timers, or even the occasional Instagram viewing. The issue is when those 15-30 second interactions turn into 45 minute sessions that I never intended to have. The goal is to minimize those times, and to instead enjoy being present.