I have a love-hate relationship with my iPhone. I love how convenient it is, how I can look up anything I want, I love Snapchat, I love being able to communicate with people all over the country and world. But at the same time…I hate it. I hate those little red bubbles nagging me. I hate that it gets to decide when I should look at it, not the other way around. I hate that I want to have my phone with me all the time. While my phone is often my lifeline, especially when I’m traveling for work, I’ve realized that I got a little too attached to it – and also a little too angry with it – recently. I’ve tried to cut ties with the various devices I use each day just a little bit, and I have to say I feel SO much better after detoxing step by step. I’ve tried a few small changes and have stuck with them for quite some months now.
Turn off notifications. At first, I turned off email notifications on the weekend to take a break from my inbox. And then I permanently turned off email notifications for one of my emails. And once I started, it was like an addiction I couldn’t stop. I’ve turned off notifications for everything on my phone except for actual phone calls and text messages, and weather alerts (because, safety). I actually need to turn off notifications for podcasts, now that I’m thinking about it. Without those little red bubbles bugging me, I’ve found that I actually end up forgetting about things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. I will go hours (which sounds like so little time) without looking at those – or at my phone at all.
Charge your phone away from your bed. Now, this one was really hard for me. My phone was my alarm clock! What if there was an emergency in the middle of the night! When will I catch up on Twitter! While that second part still is on my mind a bit, the best thing I could ever have done was to start charging my phone in a different room. First I started with charging it on the floor across the room from my bed (because that’s where the easily reachable outlet was). Then I moved to charging it outside my bedroom, and now I plug it in around 8 or 9 pm every night and walk away. It’s wonderful. I still often watch netflix before I go to sleep, but at least without my phone distracting me, I have less on my mind when I’m going to sleep. Without fail, I always saw something that stressed me out, bugged me, or upset me on the nights I needed sleep the most – so by taking the phone out of the equation, I have taken a lot of stress out of the equation too. See also: No electronics in the bedroom. I’m still working on that one.
Keep your phone in your bag at work…or any other time you’re around people. I have to admit, I love having my phone on my desk JUSTINCASE someone needs to reach me. But you know what? The people who need to reach me while I’m at work are basically all within one or two buildings, just a short walk away. And everyone else? They can wait until later. As much as I love listening to music and podcasts when I’m doing some of my work, I am so much more efficient and focused when I practice single-tasking and focusing on just what I need to do at the time. I’ve even started closing my email for chunks of the day when I need to focus on a certain project, and it’s amazing how much better I can focus during those stretches. While I need to use my judgment on when I can disconnect a little bit to get things done, it’s amazing how much more distracted I am when I can see my email notifications popping up and am keeping an eye out for text messages too.
These three changes didn’t happen overnight, and it’s a really good day when I practice all of them at some point during the day. But even being a bit more mindful of how I use technology and the impact it has on me has made me happier, less stressed, and more productive. I still have my vices, like a few episodes on Netflix at night, but overall I can confidently say that I’ve drastically reduced my screen time and reliance on my devices since the beginning of 2016.