I’m currently following the How To Break Up With Your Phone plan as featured in the book (of the same title) by Catherine Price. You can read about the previous weeks of the plan by clicking these links: WEEK 1 WEEK 2 WEEK 3. Now it’s week 4 and the FINAL WEEK, here’s what I had to do every day this week.
Week Four- Your New Relationship
Day 22- Trial Separation Recap. What did I observe about myself and my behaviour and emotions in the 24hrs? I felt a lot more “in the moment” and I didn’t have that sensation of feeling “rushed” all the time. I felt like my concentration was a lot better too.
What do these observations make me think about? What do I think when I reflect not he experience? That living your life constantly behind a screen, is no life.
How do I feel about my phone now and my relationship with it? My relationship with it has been very unhealthy. I think I still have work to do. I still need to be mindful all the time. However, I weirdly like my phone more now than when I used it all the time. I appreciate the usefulness of it without out letting it suck me in and distract me from everything.
What questions to have about phones and my phone usage now I’ve been through the trial separation? How would I cope without a smartphone and just an old-fashioned flip phone. I think it might be a beautiful thing. I’m also wondering how society might change if we all used our smartphones a lot less. How would the day be different if the whole world turned their phones off for 24hrs?
What was the hardest part of the trial separation? We needed the phone number to order takeaway pizza (a must for watching the Eurovision Song Contest), so we turned the iPad on for a brief minute to look it up then immediately turned it off again. I missed my smart phone’s usefulness, but really not that much. It was only that one occasion. I also also got anxious in the final hour as I knew I’d have a few messages waiting for me from friends and I just wanted to really see them by that point.
What was the best part? I interacted and played with my daughter so much for than I normally would on a Saturday. This was by far the best part. Plus I felt freer. I suddenly had all this free time and I could do whatever I liked with it. That was lovely.
What surprised me? That I really didn’t miss my phone. It was only that final hour that I wanted to use it.
What did I learn from the trial separation that I can use once the break-up plan is over? That I don’t need it anywhere near as much as I think I do. That messages and comments will all be waiting for me when I pick my phone up and that I don’t need to be immediately replying to people all the time. That more fun things happen without my phone. This is the most important thing I learnt.
Day 23- Phast. Catherine suggests that taking short phone “phasts” are as important as a long one. Today, she suggests that at some point in the day I allocate an hour where I’ll turn my phone off again and go without. Full disclosure gang, I completely forgot to check what I was meant to do on the plan today, BUT I didn’t check my phone past 8pm on this day, so you could say I took my mini phast then. Catherine suggests we do mini phasts every day until the end of the plan. The more regularly one phasts, the less likely we’ll be drawn to our phones. She also says it’s important not to punish ourselves. We should never ask “when shall I force myself to go without my phone?”, rather we should ask “when would I like to go without my phone?”. Therefore, leaving your phone behind when you go for a walk or going out for dinner might be a nice idea (I know, if you’re a parent of a young child, this isn’t a reality, but you could always make the conscious decision not to use your phone during those times).
Day 24- Manage Your Invitations. So today isn’t about managing physical invitations. It’s about managing the invitations that our brain sends us. For example, “ooh you’re bored, why don’t you pick up your phone and check social media”. Today, is about revising the Stop, Breathe and Be method. She suggests we also extend this into non-phone activities. Instead of reacting to something immediately (i.e. someone cuts you off in traffic), she suggests stopping, taking a breath, thinking about the possible alternative ways you could react and choose how you’d like to react. You’ll be proud of me in the doctors, instead of playing on my phone whilst in the waiting room. I just sat and let myself be. It was strangely nice. Now to extend that into non-phone activities.
Day 25- Clean Up The Rest of Your Digital Life. Today, I’m looking how to tidy up any other remains parts of digital life. Namely:
- Unsubscribe from any emails I don’t want to receive anymore. Very soon companies will have to regain your permission to send you these junk emails, so the law may well do this job for me.
- Use an email plug-in that controls how often I check my email. I don’t think I need to do this as I don’t check my email that often.
- Create a ‘Needs Response’ folder. This can stop you from feeling overwhelmed when looking at my inbox. I did this one immediately. I also feel like I need to go through my emails and delete all old emails that I no longer need to keep. A general email clean-up is needed.
- Set up a commerce email account. An email account for when you buy things. This isn’t a bad idea. My inbox will look cleaner and probably not so “large”.
- Set up a VIP list of people who’s emails you don’t want to miss. Good plan, Stan. On it.
- Set up an “important” email account for when you’re away on holiday. Set up an automated response that says you’re on holiday, but also that you won’t respond to any emails on your return and leave details of someone else they can contract instead during your absence. If they still really need a response from just you, tell them to send their email to the important email account. Apparently, when you get back you’ll be surprised by how many people don’t bother with your “important” email account. All of this reduces the huge email pile-up you get when you go on holiday. I personally, don’t need to do this though. Would your workplace, allow you to do this?
- Within social media, unfollow people you no longer care about or whose posts make you feel bad. Create lists of people with regards to how you know them i.e. friends, family, colleagues etc. So you can control who sees which posts of yours. This is a very good idea.
- Use automatic drive modes that disable your phone whilst driving. I don’t drive, so don’t need to do this. However, I cannot abide people using their phones whilst driving, whatever the excuse is. People should pull in somewhere safely to use their phone if they really need to whilst on a journey.
- Unlink your social media with other laps. Many sites give you the option to log in using your Facebook account. Apparently, you should never do this and if you have- unlink them. Luckily, I’ve never done this.
All these small digital clean-up tips help alleviate the stress that your digital life can have.
Day 26- Check Your Checking. Every time you go to reach for your phone, ask yourself “What is the best thing that can happen as a result of me checking my phone?”. What’s the best email I could receive? The best piece of news? The best notification? Then ask yourself: what’s the likelihood of any of this happening? Chances are: very low indeed. It’s probably more likely you’ll see something that’ll stress you out. Also, try using other people using their phones as a cue not to use yours. For example, when you’re in a lift and everyone is reaching for their phones. Take a deep breath and ask yourself what it is you want to pay attention right now. It really doesn’t need to be your phone.
Day 27- Digital Sabbath Life Hacks. Catherine encourages us to think about doing a regular digital sabbath. It doesn’t have to be every week. It can be just once a month. Also, you don’t have to turn all devices off. The idea is to personalise your digital sabbath into whatever works for you. I think I might just do a monthly one, but turn everything off. I enjoyed my trial separation and I also liked the challenge to fill my time non-digitally. Here are some life hacks to make the digital sabbath easier:
- Untangle your devices (buy an alarm clock, think about getting separate music devices etc)
- Create a “house phone” (instead of chucking an old phone when you upgrade. Keep it purely as a tool. This way you can hide away your actual smartphone, but have the “house phone” on hand to do the useful things)
- Use your phone’s suspension modes
- Customise your do not disturb settings
- Download maps ahead of time
- Get a landline
- Downgrade to a dumbphone (I’ve actually thought about this. To go back to life before a smartphone would be pretty amazing, but for now I’ll stick to my smartphone and see how I get on the aftermath of this plan)
- Don’t be afraid to experiment (it’s all about adopting the habits that work for you. Not everything in this book is going to work for you. See what does and what does not)
***Gang, I have to tell you, I seriously regressed today and the next day. This is probably due to attending the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards and -ahem- winning a prize and dealing with lots of lovely messages. Did I tell you I got the runner-up prize in my category? Did I not mention that? No? Never mind, you can read a bit more about it HERE. Disgusting brag over. Soz***
Day 28- The Seven Phone Habits of Highly Effective People
So now let’s check-in to see if I have healthy phone habits:
- I have healthy phone routines. I need to answer the following questions to establish these routines and to also continue practising them to ensure that these habits become second nature.
Where do you charge my phone? Downstairs.
At what time do you put it away at night? 9pm. Don’t bother trying to contact me after that time.
When do you check it for the first time after you wake up? An hour after I wake up. However, I think during term time, I need to make that after I drop my daughter off at school as me checking my phone before then still delays me leaving the house.
Where do you keep your phone when you’re at work? On my desk, in sight. I have a young child at school, so that’s never going to change.
Where do you keep your phone when you’re at home? Still in reach, but after 9pm out of reach. I think I need to keep it out of reach at certain times during the day though.
Where do you keep your phone at mealtimes? Not at the table anymore. I can still see it though and reach it if needs be. I should probably move it out of sight.
Where do you carry your phone? In my coat pocket.
What do you use your phone for? Social media, checking my blog, Spotify, shopping, occasionally tools.
What are the situations that you have decided that you don’t use your phone? Waiting in queues, waiting to pick my daughter up from somewhere, in the company of someone.
Which apps are tools that enrich or simplify your life? Sky TV, weather, camera, Google Maps, SecureSafe, Podcasts, Spotify, Health and my calendar.
Which apps do you know are dangerous/the most likely to suck you in? Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but I don’t have them as apps anymore. I only access them via the browser. Also, Wikipedia and IMDb can suck me in too.
Based on the previous question, which apps have you blocked? I haven’t blocked any yet, but like I said, I have deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- I have manners, and I know how to use them. Questions again.
Where do you keep your phone and how do you use it when you are:
Spending time with people? If I’m socialising with friends, it’s away out of sight. I still need to work on this in the presence of my family. I have been keeping my phone in a different room when with my daughter after school.
Watching a movie or TV? Sometimes, it’s in reach and sometimes it’s out of reach. I’m getting much better at not picking it up when watching TV though. I need to still work on this a little bit.
Having a meal? No phones at the table is a hard and fast rule now. I need to probably put it more out of sight still.
Driving a car? I don’t drive.
In classes, lecture or meetings? Out of sight.
- I cut myself a break. Ok so my old habits reared their ugly head this past weekend, but Catherine advices to forgive yourself quickly if this happens and move on. She also suggests allowing yourself some guilt-free time to aimlessly scroll through the internet to give yourself a break. Allowing yourself some guilt-free time on the phone will actually help avoid bingeing. Catherine suggests thinking of a time in the day for this phone time. It might be a good idea for me to do it when my daughter has first gone to bed.
- I phast. I need to establish how and when I will phast. I intend to do a 24hrs phast once a month and when I’m on holiday (as much as possible).
- I have a life. Now, I have to think of constructive ways to spend my time instead of being on the phone. I think I’ve mentioned these before, but they will be reading, walking (when my body allows me to), baking, singing and writing.
- I practice pausing. Why is it important to practice stillness? I think to allow your brain bit of space and recharge the batteries. What will I do when I find myself with a bit of downtime? If it’s just a few minutes, then I just be and look around my surroundings. Looking up, I have learned is a good thing. If it’s several hours, then I will do any of the above things listed.
- I exercise my attention. What will I do to rebuild my attention span? Read, always just do one thing at a time and remember to meditate for at least 5 minutes a day (I keep on forgetting- sorry Catherine!)
Day 29- Keep Yourself on Track. Once a month, I have to check in with myself and run through these questions:
What parts of your relationship with your phone are going well?
What things about the relationship with your phone do you want to change? What’s one thing you could do to start?
What are you doing or could do to strengthen your focus?
What are your goals for the next 30 days?
What fun plans could you make to spend time with people you care about?
Have you reinstalled any of the apps that you previously deleted, let your phone back into your bedroom or turned notifications back on? If so, does it feel like the right decision (no judgement)?
What do you want o pay attention in your life?
I have to set a date in my calendar (yes it is fine to use the calendar on your phone) to ensure I go through these questions each month.
Day 30- Congratulations. I’ve done it! I’ve completed the 30 day How To Break Up With Your Phone plan. I am mighty proud of myself. So now, I need to think about my achievements and write a note to myself. I have to say, I still need to work on certain areas. In particular, where I leave my phone during the day, phubbing my family and watching TV, but even those areas are better than what they were. Here’s my note using the prompts that Catherine provides:
- I used to think my phone…was indispensable and a boredom reliever. Now I think…it’s generally a waste of time and brain power, but it does have its uses at times.
- I’ve learned that…my phone rarely relieves boredom and it makes me frustrated. That my attention span is diminshing.
- I’m happy to know that…I actually don’t know what this prompt means. Do you?
- I’m proud of myself for…easily doing the 24 hours phast, not touching my phone after 9pm, during certain situations and during mealtimes.
The Actions I Took That I think Helped Me Most:
- Sorting my apps into different folders and organising my homepage
- Deleting my social media apps
- Being mindful of the times I always reach for my phone
- Rules surrounding when my phone is off limits (at mealtimes, after 9pm, the first hour I’m awake)
- Leaving my phone downstairs at night
How Have I Changed Since Starting This Programme
- I can sense a slight improvement in my attention span
- I am less frustrated
- I am more productive
- I am interacting with my family much more at home (this is the best thing to come out of completing the plan).
Thank you so much for joining me throughout this plan. Now, if you haven’t already, buy this book. It will change your life.
Now, is probably the right time to mention that I’ll shortly be taking bit of a blogging break. I’ll still be doing my weekly music posts and the occasional other pre-planned post over the next few months, but it’s a good time in my life to free my time up a bit and concentrate on other projects. I’ll be back though, my friends. Thank you for all of your support so far on this blogging journey.