Life Unplugged… These four things will begin to happen when you stop relying on the phone
Learning to live without my phone is the best thing I ever did…. Here’s a few tips that helped me
I started the break up slowly in 2017. I had recently parted ways with a guy that I was in love with after he asked to “just be friends”. I needed time away and I knew how addicted to facebook we both were at the time.
I asked him for time apart so I could sort my feelings. When it was clear that he was still going to continue to like all of my posts, reminding me of his presence, I went a little drastic.
I broke up with facebook for three months. Before starting, I told friends and family that I could still be reached by messanger and on Instagram.
I just needed time away. Those first days were really hard for me. The desire to check to see how many likes or comments my post about leaving was receiving (counterproductive) was almost unbearable.
With time, it got easier, I cheated a few times to wish people a happy birthday or to see what notifications were there, but they were few and far between.
I’m still not on facebook as often as I was back then, even years later.
I’ve since taken breaks from every social media platform I’m on, and in July of last year, I set my ultimate challenge. The challenge was for the entire month, to limit my use of the phone for one hour a day. At the time I was delivering with Doordash, so I didn’t count any of the time that I was hustling toward that one hour per day. I made it through 19 days.
However, I also learned a lot about myself and about just how addicting the phone can actually be.
What I’ve Gained From Each Break
Regardless of which type of phone break I’ve taken, there have always been certain advantages to choosing it each time.
It increases awareness of the present
The first days of any time without the phone are enlightening. They present the opportunity to see more clearly everything around you.
They allow you to be more present in the current situation: whether that means taking in beautiful surroundings or remembering what meal time without the phone is like. It creates the opportunity to savor what is around you.
It Deepens Relationships
We’ve all been there. A group of friends gets together to hang out and each of us are on our phones.
It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter the reason we got together. We’re ignoring each other to be on social media or playing games. You begin to get the sense that the only reason you got together was to have another few bodies in the same room.
This makes no sense. Why would anyone drive any distance to get together just to ignore? Wouldn’t it make more sense to set the phones aside and actually engage and talk with each other on a more personal level than just giving everyday news that we find on our phones.
When eliminating phone usage for getting together, whether around the dinner table or friends that you only see every so often, you get to go deeper.
You build that relationship up because you spend time talking to them, learning their interests and discovering common ground. You spend time looking into their eyes and making a connection. A real life connection, not an artifical one.
This is perhaps the hardest habit to break, both in ourselves and others. It’s one of the areas where boundaries become necessary. For example, when at dinner, put the phone away once the food is served and don’t pull it back out until the bill is paid.
It gives you the ability to accomplish more
It’s easy in today’s technological age to sit down for what we believe will be 20 minutes to check our social networks and emails. Two hours later, we’re scrolling pinterest daydreaming about the perfect party to throw.
While sometimes this rabit hole can be productive, if we really need to throw a party, it’s helpful to gather ideas.
However, more often than not, we’ve given away two hours of time we won’t get back. That’s two hours that we can spend writing our newest article, learning about something that interests us, cuddling with a significant other or working on accomplishing an item on the bucket list.
Each time that I have put myself on a phone fast, I’ve come up with more creativity, better writing, and I deepen at least one relationship.
It Gives You Room to Reflect
Any break from the phone provides time to reflect on our intentions when using it.
There are ways that phones and the internet make our lives better: staying connected with people who are no longer in our direct vicinity, learning a new skill, or having a working knowledge of world events.
In 2020, our lives have changed drastically and the phone or technology has been a life saver. It’s kept us connected during lock down, allowed us to maintain frienships through social distancing, and meeting new people while staying safe. (For me, it’s how I’ve been able to meet my fiance’s entire family and some of his friends).
However, are we making the best use of our time by engaging in phone related activities? Are we using the phone against us or for us?
Taking time away lets us create boundaries so that we are able to live outside the phone instead of using it as a crutch. It allow us time to reconnect with the outside world in the process.
Five Tips for Success if Attempting Your First Phone Challenge
These are the things I’ve learned from experience but I wish someone would have told me when I was creating my first challenge
You might be reading this, or any of the other posts talking about what it’s like to only use the phone sparingly and think it sounds great. You’ll want to jump in and just start going with a huge challenge.
I would advise not doing that. Instead, build up.
Maybe this time what you really want to do is break your addiction to a social media platform. Decide how long you want to be off that platform- one week? A month? Choose a time frame that seems challenging but doable.
Once you’ve decided, log out of the account and turn off notifications. Have things ready to distract you when you feel the need to check in.
Set One Goal to Acccomplish During Your Time
When you decide to take your break, have one goal in mind. Every time that I have chosen to take a break, for instance, I’ve set a creative goal. Whether that means actually learning how to thread a needle and sew up a few items of clothing, or writing for extended periods of time.
This one goal will become your focus during your challenge and is an easy out when you feel the craving to get back to what you’re taking a break from
Document Your Thoughts and Triggers
Keep a notebook with you. When you feel tempted to use the phone, document what is going on around you: is everyone else on theirs? Are you dealing with fear of missing out? Are you bored? What is making you want to access it? Write it down and opt for another activity.
Each day, also document your thoughts and reflections. It will help at the end when you decide whether this experiment has changed your life in any way.
Have a List of Go To Activities
What do you enjoy doing besides playing on the phone? Make a list even before you start. If you want to break your attachment, it will be easy to revert back to these activities later on in the challenge.
Don’t Go Back Until You Have Evaluated
At the end of the time that you decided to take, get out your notebook. Write down everything that you learned during your time off. Write down what you want from your phone usage going forward. Decide on clear boundaries going forward. For example:
Clear: I will only check facebook after work for 10 minutes
Not Clear: I want to use facebook less.
Eventually, you might get to a point where you don’t need the boundaries and are steering clear on your own. However, right after any type of challenge, it’s always a good idea to set some kind of guideline going forward, at least for a little bit.
After almost 1500 words, it might come off that I’m bashing all social media, all phone usage or any connection on the web. I promise I’m not.
I’ve just become very aware in the last few years of how addicting it can be and the fact that it can rob of us of important time that could be spent pursuing other things.
Our relationships: with ourselves, others and the outside world benefit from taking time to be unplugged from our phones. It can help us to get more done, develop a deeper friendship with someone, or allow our significant other to know that they are our priority over any technology.
That being said, breaking up is hard to do. Especially when the attachment is especially strong. Do it in small stages.
Have a goal and distractors at the ready if you decide to start a break. Also, focus on learning your triggers and evaluating.
Learn why you need this connection or if there are boundaries that would benefit you in the long haul.
In short, technology is not evil, but it can take over our lives if we let it. Choose to master it and spend life unplugged, doing more and being more than a virtual reality.