How To Break Up With Your Phone- week 1

Gaaahhhhh. Enough, enough, ENOUGH! I am so fed up of myself. So fed up of wasting my time on my phone, caught within a cycle of social media platforms. So fed up of not being productive and frustratingly reading yet another click bait article about how some celebrities look older than -shock horror- they did when they were 30 years younger (who knew people looked older as they got older). I’m also fed up of the neck ache that seems to accompany me most days and I hold my mobile phone use fully responsible for this. I am also becoming painfully aware that I am some kind of role model to my daughter (god help her) and seeing me hunched over my phone most of the time, is not…cool. So I read the wonderful and fascinating Irresistible by Adam Atler (my review of it can be found here). It gives a very insightful look into why us humans get addicted in general and why we are becoming addicted to our phones and the internet. Whilst this book was great and equally terrifying, it still wasn’t enough to stop me from picking up my phone every 5 seconds to check if anyone has “liked” a recent photo that I’ve uploaded or to complete a Buzzfeed quiz to find out which Parks & Recreation character I am (Donna obvs). I needed to be nannied and told exactly how I can break free from my habitual and unnecessary use of my phone.

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And along came How To Break Up With Your Phone. Not only did this very simply and succinctly reiterate everything that I learnt in Adam Atler’s book, but the majority of the book is a step by step daily guide of how to -well- break up with my phone. The plan stretches over 4 weeks and at the end of it one will no longer be addicted to one’s phone. Hooray! I love this book as Catherine doesn’t believe in just going cold turkey. She believes you need to understand firstly, why you’re reaching for your phone so often. She also feels that not using your phone at all, ever again just isn’t realistic. There’s nothing wrong with going on social media or indeed doing the odd Buzzfeed quiz, it’s when your phone use is addictive that it becomes problematic. It’s not the phones nor social media that are the issue, it’s how much and how often you use them that is. The scariest part of this book is how our phone use is changing how our brains work and shortening our concentration span. This in turn is changing society as a whole and making us much less empathetic. This is not good. So, for the next 4 weeks, I will be doing the How To Break Up With Your Phone programme and detailing how I get on with the daily tasks. Here is how I got on with the first week.

[By the way, this week’s post is a bit wordy, but I think the following weeks’ posts will be less so. Also, I’ve been completely honest with myself in my answers as I won’t get anywhere if I don’t look at thing truthfully.]

Week One- Technology Triage

Day 1- download a tracking app

So, my first day is fairly easy. I just had to download an app that monitors how much you use your phone every day and how many times you pick it up. I used the Moments app. I had to write down what I predicted these numbers would be. I predicted that I used my phone for 2hrs every day and picked it up around 30 times a day. I have a feeling though these predictions might be waaaaaaay out. Time will tell.

Day 2- Asses your current relationship

Today I just had to answer four questions.

  1. What do you love about your phone?  I love it! I hate it! I love it! I hate it! Ok, so I love the convenience of it. I love being able to research things quickly and buy things swiftly. I love how easy it makes keeping in contact with friends (though I also worry that social media and phones make me less sociable. We don’t keep in contact with friends in the same way as before. We don’t call people up to see how they are as we know or rather think we know how they are via their social media).
  2. What don’t you love about your phone? I hate how it is a gigantic rabbit hole. I pick up my phone to do something quickly and than BAM two hours later I’m still faffing about doing nothing in particular. It is the biggest waste of time and stops me from being productive. I also hate how my phone use sometimes results in me ignoring people rather engaging. There is also the added pressure I feel from my phone to reply to emails/texts/messages/comments. It sometimes feels never-ending and not because I’m so wonderfully popular, but because phones and social media have been designed this way. Then there’s the RSI…
  3. What changes do you notice in yourself  -positive or negative- when you spend a lot of time on your phone? It actually makes me less sociable with the people that I’m with. Ironically, as I’ll be using social media most of the time I’m on my phone. I also feel slightly twitchy and that there’s always something else that I should be checking or doing on my phone (oh my god I AM addicted). I can also get irritable with people around me, if I get engrossed with something on my phone and they have the gall to demand my attention (I’m the actual worst). Since having a smartphone, my concentration span has definitely deteriorated. I find I start doing one thing, then within moments I start thinking about doing another and have to break off to start doing that and so on. I’m far too easily distracted and I never used to be like this. I also find that I don’t make my brain think for itself. Need to remember where I’ve seen that actor before? No need to try and think of the answer myself. I just need to quickly look it up on my phone. My short term memory is now pretty awful. That could be age of course, but I do think my phone use has something to do with it.
  4. Imagine yourself a month from now, at the end of your break-up. What would you like your new relationship with your phone to look like? What would you like to have done or accomplished with your extra time? I would just like to be freer from it, not chained to it. I want to stop wasting time on it doing useless things (I agree that doing this from time to time is perfectly fine). I want to be more in the moment and not engrossed in a screen all the time. I’d like to stop and observe things around me. I want to stop reaching for it all the time and for it to be the first thing I do whenever I get a chance. With my extra time, I would like to read and write more. My daughter has noticed that I use my phone a lot and I would like her to notice that this has changed and that I use my phone a lot less. I would like to be more engaged with her in the mornings and after school too. If I faff less on my phone, then I’ll have more time to do any essential internet tasks. I would like to do these essential things that I need to do on the internet when I’m not with my daughter, so by the time that she sees me on my phone is minimal. Easy peasy, yes?

Day 3- start paying attention

Today, things got slightly more…mindful. I had to observe my phone use over 24hrs. I had to change my lock screen to something that would prompt me to think about how I was using my phone. Catherine suggested I changed it do note saying “Why did you pick me up?”, but then I found that passive aggressive, like my phone was trying to start an argument, so I changed it to “Notice”. These are the things I had to think about:

  1. Situations that you nearly always find yourself using your phone: in queues, when my daughter is watching TV, when my husband is doing the bedtime routine, when I’m waiting for something, after I’ve watched my evening TV programmes before bed, when I first get out of bed, when my daughter is eating her breakfast, during the day when I’m working from home- I am constantly picking it up and putting it back down again, as soon as I get out of the shower. Quite a lot then.
  2. How your posture changes when I use my phone: very slumped. Neck bent over. It’s a very insular pose.
  3. Your emotional state right before you reach your phone: bored, sometimes anxious, restless.
  4. Your emotional state right after you use your phone: bored, sometimes anxious, restless and frustrated with myself.
  5. How and how often my phone grabs my attention (i.e. notifications etc): actually not that often. I’m wise enough to turn ALL notifications off and I rarely get texts. I have to go in to apps to see if I have any messages or comments.
  6. How you feel while you are using your phone as well as how you feel when you don’t have your phone: while I use it I feel frustrated and annoyed quite often (WHY THE FUDGE DO I USE IT SO OFTEN THEN?!). I occasionally feel relaxed if I’m having a funny conversation with a friend. When I don’t have my phone, I feel one of two things. If I’ve recently posted something and I don’t have my phone nearby, I feel twitchy and unable to concentrate. If I haven’t posted anything recently, without my phone I feel chilled.
  7. Moments (either on or off my phone) when I feel engaged, energised, joyful, effective and purposeful- what was I doing and who was I with? I felt energised and purposeful after finishing a piece of work. I was not on my phone and by myself. I felt engaged and joyful when chatting and laughing with my family.
  8. How and when other people use their phones and how does it make you feel? Oh this is when I actually feel dreadful. My husband came home from work and I start telling him about my day and he just gets his phone out and starts reading a text. It made me feel so annoyed. He had put this person that texted him before the person right in front of him that had started talking to him before he received the text. The worst thing is, I do this to him ALL THE TIME. So I must make him feel this annoyed. I told you that I’m the worst. I also really hate seeing people on their phones when out for meals or at bars. What’s the point in making the effort and spending money to go out and socialise with the people you’re with if you’re just going to ignore each other? I am glad to say that this is not something I do. At least, I hope I don’t. Shoot me if I do.

Day 4- take stock and take action

Oh God and today we analyse the data I’ve been collecting since day 1.

The results from the tracking app: Okaaaaay, so bearing in mind I happened to be tracking my usage during the two days I work in an office, where I never use my phone and also it happens to be the Easter holidays, so I’m out and about with my little darling and not using my phone as much as I normally would, my results are….3.5hrs a day usage and I picked my phone up on average at least 60 times a day. So what would my data results have been if it was a normal day working from home with my chid at school?! I dread to think. Needless to say my predictions were way out.

So, after this I tracked my usage when my daughter went back to school and I wasn’t working and I used my phone for 5hrs and picked it up 81 times in one day. FFS.

Notice what you’ve noticed: reflecting on what I noticed when I was using my phone, what patterns did I notice and what surprised me? That using my phone didn’t alleviate boredom. That I used it most when sitting on my couch. That it was a reflex that most of the time I wasn’t even aware of. That it caused more frustration than pleasure.

Day 5- delete social media apps 

So, today is the day that I delete all social media apps. Wtf? Seriously? Ok, so this isn’t an irreversible action, I can still check social media via a browser and Catherine does explain that later on in the programme I will be “reintroduced” to these apps, but for now- they’ve got to go. Okaaaaaay.

Also, Catherine introduces me to the WWW speed bump. Every time I go to use my phone or the internet, I have to ask myself:

  • What for? (why am I using it?)
  • Why now? (why am I using it right at this moment and not later?)
  • What else? (what could I be doing right now instead of using my phone?)

The idea is that if I ask myself these questions every time I reach for my phone, the delay creates an obstacle that slows down the action of reaching for my phone. This gives us the opportunity to change course i.e. decide to do something else. It’s a pause between our impulse and our actions.

So, now I’ve deleted all my social media apps (I deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). Whilst I did find myself just logging in on a browser and checking those platforms, I did fid that there were plenty of times that I reached for my phone and couldn’t be bothered to check social media as it wasn’t quite going to be as quick and simple as normal, so I *gasp* just put my phone back down again. I have to say, jut doing this alone was already making a difference.

Day 6- come back to (real) life

So, now without my social media apps, I need to start thinking about how I’m going to spend this reclaimed time. Catherine suggested some prompts to help me think about this.

I’ve always loved to: walk, write, sing, socialise

I’ve always wanted to: write a book or play

When I was a kid I was fascinated by: music, books and animals (and Shakin’ Stevens, but I don’t think that’s relevant right now)

If I had more time, I would like to: play with my daughter, go for walks, bake, read and write more

Some activities that I know put me into flow are: socialising and getting fresh air.

People I would like to spend more time with: more quality time with daughter, my husband and my friends (and my family, but they love 200 miles, so more difficult to see them frequently).

Next, I need to make a list of several specific fun off-phone things to do over the next few days/rest of the programme: go for a walk, read, play a game with my daughter

Day 7- get physical

Today, unsurprisingly, Catherine asks that we do something physical. Her point being that she wants us to remember we’re not just a brain sitting on top of a body. So, I went for a long walk with my daughter. It was kind of like killing two birds with one stone [NB: no birds were killed whilst completing this programme]. I had some quality time with my daughter and I got some fresh air and exercise. I do have an issue with doing physical things as I suffer from chronic pain, but luckily today my body allowed me to go for a walk and it was lovely. My daughter was also in her element.

So, that’s the end of week 1. Tune in next Monday to see how I get on with week 2. And if you feel like joining in too, comment below on how you’re getting on.

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I strongly recommend you read this book. Now.

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59 comments

  1. This is a great post. I went for over 6 months without a phone when I first moved to Germany. I have had a new phone for about 3 months now, and I notice that I am using it more and more. It was so nice not being tied to the phone when I first got here. I am curious to find out how you do over the next month!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · April 30

      Me too! I really hope this programme works, but I’m already noticing a difference so fingers crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. awkward brown guy · April 30

    Big thumbs up for committing to this exercise. Phone addiction is real – I think about this often – and was actually talking about it last night on the phone with a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · April 30

      Cheers. And phone addiction is still a very new thing and the effects of it on society is in its infancy. Dread to think how it’s going to effect society as time progresses.

      Liked by 1 person

      • awkward brown guy · May 1

        I totally agree. I was at a spoken word event tonight and this guy spoke a poem all about social media and it was so relevant.

        Like

  3. By the sounds of it Hayley, you needed a new challenge. I am never online while out and about. Tend to use my computer than my phone, as I have emails regarding housesits, travel/ accommodations etc., plus doing blogging activities like leaving comments to lovely bloggers 🙂 Good luck with your new challenge, and enjoy the outdoors, even if you don’t walk far, something is better than nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · April 30

      Exactly. Whatever time I manage outside & away from the screen is time we’ll spent. I really think just doing everything on a computer rather than a phone is the way forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Where the heck has spring gone? My motivation to get my backside off this chair has gone out the window, at 4 degs and rain on the way!! Computers are easier to leave and it helps when my phone doesn’t do the app thing very well. Oh yes, I found knitting a great way to reduce the need to have something in my hand, like a cigarette [when I was a smoker many years ago]. Everyone in my family got a jumper if they brought the wool 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · April 30

        I think we might have it slightly nicer up here. It’s 9 degrees and dry & sunny. Still not that warm for spring, but better than 4 degrees & rain anyway. I’ll make sure it gets even better for when you make it up to Yorkshire. Good idea re keeping my hands busy. I think I’d make a terrible knitter, but I’ll have to think of something.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Luckily we had no rain, had a good walk. Really looking forward to North Yorkshire and catching with you all. Yes, I’m not a knitter as such, as I rarely do it, though it is a good occupation of my hands!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Debbie Harris · April 30

    Whoa this is huge Hayley! Good on you for committing to this and then telling us all about it too. I must admit reading your post (on my phone) made me feel a bit bad. It is a real issue for many and I wish you well in trying to cut down your usage. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · April 30

      Thank you Debbie! It needs to be done. My daughter rolling her eyes at me & joking that I’m always on the phone was enough to motivate me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Book Club Mom · April 30

    Great subject and terrific ideas on how to break up with our phones!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rachaelstray · April 30

    Oooh this is so interesting. I will tune in to find out how you’re getting on. Don’t tell my husband or he will make me do this too!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. angelanoelauthor · April 30

    I need this doubly much because I have TWO phones. One for work and one for personal stuff. Checking the work email sometimes makes me break out in hives–not really but it’s not fun. The personal one is definitely the social media business, and email. Oh the email.
    I like the gradual approach focused on mindfulness. It really does sounds like a 12-step program for addiction. But, I think its warranted. I believe this incredible availability of information and access to “others” through the medium of social media (or what my cousin calls, “social meds”) are the devil and the angel on our shoulders. Both good and bad. I look forward to living vicariously through you, and maybe trying it for myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · April 30

      I’m hearing some great phrases through comments today. Love “social meds”. But they’re like meds that make you feel worse. It is true that social media can be used for good as well as for the bad. It really is like a 12-step programme, isn’t it? It’s a genuine addiction as we both know from reading Irresistible. Oh I used to have a work phone- it was hideous. So glad I don’t need one with my current job.

      Like

  8. Midlife Smarts · April 30

    Wow – so interesting. I dread to thing how many times I use/ touch my phone every day. Frightening. And Faceboast (as I call it) can be so annoying – although it is so useful for blogging. Looking forward to hearing how this all goes for you. Jill

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · April 30

      Ha love it- “Faceboast”. So true. It is useful for blogging, I think I need to be more mindful that I just use it for that purpose and then stop. No more after that.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Snuffy · April 30

    I did the “delete social media apps” earlier this year for about 8 weeks. It was eye opening how much I was used to picking my phone up to check in. I like the idea of an app to keep track and keep myself within limits. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · April 30

      Yes the app that tracks your phone usage is a really good idea. It was awful how much I was picking my phone up every day.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. JenLGilmour · April 30

    Oh my word!! I need to do this! Thank you for sharing. x

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jennifer · April 30

    I did go a week once without the device. We took a cruise and I didn’t want to pay the high fees for international use. The first day or two you keep looking at the phone looking for an update but by day 3, the only thing I used the phone for was to take pictures or read a book. Right now, my biggest use of the phone is reading. Anytime I have to wait for any amount of time, I read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · May 1

      Oh yes I had to do the same when we went camping in the middle of nowhere and there wasn’t any internet access. It was so lovely- just being able to switch off and I read so much, but then as soon as the holiday finished I was back into my old habits again. I think it sounds like you have the right attitude to your phone.

      Like

  12. Unbound Roots · April 30

    Wow! What an awesome and thorough post, Hayley. And, I think I need to read “Irresistible” – I’m adding it to my “Need to Read” list. 🙂 Pinning this post for future reference!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Well done for taking the first step! I’m not sure I’m quite ready to completely break up with my phone just yet, but I do like the idea of being more mindful of why I’m using it. Baby steps!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · April 30

      Yes I keep on forgetting the mindful bit ha. I will endeavour to do it a bit more! It’s definitely all about baby steps.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ritu · April 30

    Maybe I need to.do.this….

    Liked by 1 person

  15. mydangblog · April 30

    This process is so interesting. I have to admit that I use my phone for a lot of the same reasons, but I also use it to take notes and reply to work emails. I have a few social apps that I could unplug from though, especially Twitter–do I really need to be reading that nonsense at any time?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · May 1

      I know and it’s the stupid quizzes, memes and clickbait that take up my Facebook feed that fills my head up with nonsense. I just started to feel like I was living my life in front of a screen and whilst obviously we all have to use them (I’m using one right now) and the they’re not all bad, it’s about using them in moderation. Which I wasn’t. I think it’s going to be hard work, but hopefully worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Shailaja V · May 1

    Absolutely fabulous post and I read it all the way till the end! I love it. I admire this kind of dedication to non tech use and I’m very keen to pick up this book from a research perspective. I’ve just started reading this other book called Deep Work and it compels me to finish reading that before I even look at my phone. So yes it’s a mindset shift and one that takes getting used to. Look forward to more updates and all the best with the de-addiction!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · May 1

      Thank you so much, Shailaja! It absolutely is about changing the mindset and I think it will take me a little while to do, but I’m determined to get there and think it will have a really positive effect on my life (and those around me). Excellent- keep reading your book!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Shailaja V · May 1

        I was in that space you speak of, Haley. Picking up the phone almost on instinct. It took cervical spondylosis to break me of the habit. After that a lot of mindfulness, dedicated time blocks for social media and conscious down time has worked wonders.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · May 1

        Dedicating blocks of time is an excellent idea. This book mentions doing that too. I’m sorry to hear of your cervical spondylosis. I worry about that too. One of the other reasons I want to cut down on my phone usage.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. gemmaorton · May 6

    Great post! Saving and sharing this as a reminder. Looking out for that book too. I’m guilty of having all social media apps however I do sign out of them so that I don’t start mindlessly scrolling as often. It’s harder to just pick up and look. I also find if I have a day where I’m looking at screens a lot my mood is changed and temper shortened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · May 6

      Yes signing out of them is such a good idea. I need to start doing that. The book had suggested it, but haven’t been brave enough yet ha. And I know exactly what you mean about how over using screens can effect your mood. It’s not good.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Lucy Mitchell · May 6

    Wow – what a post and a process! The app sounds scary but I bet my results would be horrifying. This is such a great thing to do

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · May 6

      I know. I’ve slacked a bit this weekend, but hope to carry on where I left on from tomorrow!

      Like

  19. Pingback: How To Break Up With Your Phone- week 2 | Just Another Blog From a Woman
  20. Zoe O'Farrell · May 8

    Wow what a great post(I caught up as I saw you have written week 2! ) think I will try this with you! I find I spend too much time on my phone. Will be such an achievement to get off my phone more

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · May 8

      Fantastic! We can support each other ha! Let me know how you get on. They’re just so bloody addictive & and my neck hurts, so it’s definitely time for me to make bold changes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zoe O'Farrell · May 8

        Yes let’s! I have turned my notifications off, and deleted apps. Couldn’t do my social media ones just yet! We can compare notes at the bloggers bash! 😂😊 x

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · May 8

        You go girl! Excellent 👍🏻👍🏻

        Liked by 1 person

      • Zoe O'Farrell · May 17

        Ah thanks!! You are doing fab! See I even missed your comment because I turned them off 😂😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · May 18

        This is fantastic! x

        Like

  21. Pingback: How To Break Up With Your Phone- week 3 | Just Another Blog From a Woman
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