The year 2020 changed life completely for many of us. I’m no exception to this. In the past I barely used my phone, often due to a lack of reception and WiFi. Or sometimes just because I was super occupied. But now I have the irrepressible urge to grab the thing too often. For hours I could scroll through social media without really being inspired and pleased. It could have something to do with the fact that I already saw all the inspirational posts early in the day, while mindlessly scrolling on my phone. Too be honest, I get super annoyed! What is your relationship with your smartphone like these days?
Recently I decided to start reading some old magazines laying around the house. One of the articles was about digital detox. With my man currently at sea as a seafarer, I don’t feel too comfortable to go into a full digital detox. But I decided that it’s time to claim back my own life! Maybe it is time you also changed your relationship with your smartphone? While looking for tips it was funny how my screen time changed from unproductive to productive and from phone to laptop. I found some tips that wouldn’t really fit with this time of year. Others were perfect for any moment of time, so I decided to summarize them and share them with you.
1. Bedroom Ban
Do you recognize this? When my phone is laying on my night stand it always talks to me. Hello I’m here and sure you have missed important messages! The temptation to grab my phone when it’s so close is huge, and not just in the bedroom. This counts in every room. The excuse that I use it as an alarm clock is rubbish, as I also own an old fashioned alarm clock. Leave your phone in the living room when you go to bed. If you happen to expect important calls during the night, put it nearby the bed, somewhere where you can hear it when it rings. But have it far enough away where you won’t get seduced into grabbing it constantly. Instead of looking at my screen endlessly before dozing off I mediate, write in my journal or read some pages in my book.
2. Morning Routine
What is the first thing you do after waking up? Do you grab your phone and check messages and social media? Why not wait until after you had a shower or have eaten breakfast? This really helped me to start my day much more mellow, not being overwhelmed by all the things I missed and need to pick up that morning.
3. Phone Free Meals
At home my parents had a rule, and they still do: No phones at the dinner table. When your phone would ring during dinner you had to treat the family one time that week. Sometimes this rule caused one or more family members to go to the bathroom and call every person in the room until finally one phone would ring. This way a treat was guaranteed! When going out to dinner I snap photos of my food. During my search for tips I read the following: Just because your food looks amazing doesn’t mean it tastes better after it has been Instagrammed. In fact, it could be cold by the time you are done snapping all those pics! So savour what’s right in front of you.
Maybe this is something to remember when restaurants are open again, or when I order take out.
4. Zero Notifications Policy
Notifications are a huge trigger to immediately check your phone and see what you just missed. A good starting point would be to only be disturbed by those who directly contact you. Do we really need to know the moment that someone likes one of our photos on social media? How about your email? I like the idea to check these apps when I have time and not when they want me to. What also helps me is to keep my phone on vibrate rather than on sound. It makes me less anxious. That would be a good, easy step to changing your relationship with your smartphone.
5. Set Achievable Goals
Cold turkey is an expression that I saw frequently when researching how to use my phone less. Someone wrote about how we could easily manage our boundaries. One of them was not to use a phone during certain activities. Think about reading, watching a TV show or movie, walking, eating, creating or any other activities you can come up with. Leave your phone somewhere else in the house, or use the airplane mode.
6. Do Other Things
Many times I read: ‘try disconnecting from your phone for an entire weekend’ or ‘schedule a no phones allowed day’. When you can’t leave the house, due to the weather or current restrictions, it’s easy to fall into boredom. Imagine what you want to do with all the time you could save when you are not scrolling through social media? Nothing comes to mind? But digital detox can be fun!
Maybe you could plan a special date night with your partner. Have a staycation! You could experiment with baking, cooking or making a fancy dessert. You could deep clean your home or bake treats for your puppy. Or just pick up a good old-fashioned book. There are many possibilities.
The Girls Who Travel Shop even offers a shirt to remind you of the importance of the occasional digital detox!
The plan isn’t to give up using my phone entirely. My hope is to take back control of my own life and use it in a more productive way than before, not on automatic pilot like I did often. I will use it to contact friends and family I haven’t talked to for a very long time, and I will still do my daily practice on Duolingo, listen to music or mediate with the use of an app. It’s just time to explore all that I can do from home without my phone, any maybe you will also change your relationship with your smartphone after reading this.