If you are reading this on your phone, I highly encourage you to read this on your computer...it will make the purpose of this article much more effective.
I was inspired to share because this is something I have been feeling for quite some time that was confirmed by someone in my life last week in their decision to disconnect. Our phone has become such a necessary evil in which the effects on our lives are often overlooked. I almost feel like I woke up from a spell, becoming an observer watching the zombie like state everyone was in, attached to their phone. I then realized I looked exactly like them. I was dependent like I was to my cup of coffee every morning. That was when I knew I had to make efforts to disconnect.
Now, I am not saying phones haven't bridged gaps or made things more convenient. I am so grateful for the ability to video call my family who I live far from, grab pictures of moments to make them last forever, or have my gps keep my directionally challenged self from getting lost. Especially during this pandemic, it is what we have to stay close. I cannot imagine being in isolation without having the virtual contact with each other. So, I am not suggesting completely disconnecting for good, I am however suggesting to really look at your habits and behaviors surrounding your phone usage.
Have you ever noticed the type of boundaries you have with people in your life all of a sudden don't apply on the phone? Have you realized how much time you actually spending scrolling? Have you caught yourself gapping in a conversation with someone because you are also trying to do something on your phone at the same time? How many times have you become distracted in the middle of a productive flow because there was a notification on your phone? How about checking your phone first thing in the morning before you've even given yourself time to set your energy for the day? I could go on, but you get my point. And you get my point enough to make a change. Life passes way too fast to spend it missing everything because you were looking down at your phone. I am here to help you with this break-up process, with these 5 steps I personally used.
1. Make your phone less convenient. We know so much about the human brain and psychological behaviors that we can also use this information to break habit. They made phones THIS convenient because it strokes the reward center of our brain. Humans don't like frustration, and after something that we view as convenient then isn't we usually give up. Don't believe me? I'll give you an example. You are on Instagram or Facebook and see an ad for a shirt you like, you click it, it opens their site, you can't find the shirt, you start getting frustrated, then you add it to the cart but the check out process is long, it says there is an error when you hit complete order. I guarantee you just closed it out and didn't end up getting it. I know this is you, because this is everyone. I can see from the back end of my store, every person who abandons a cart and when they do it is always fast 5 minutes of activity. We are programmed for instant now. We have Amazon Prime brains. Patience is honestly a lost art and I'm pretty sure this generation Z has none of it. That's a huge human behavior problem that has now developed in pretty much all of us. It not only creates unnecessary frustration and stress, it actually causes us to rush and forget the benefit of slowing down in particular moments.
Being present in the now is one of the hardest things to do when you have 18 tabs open. Your phone has everything running in the back and multiple notifications popping up at a time. Our brains are not designed to have 18 tabs open and successfully accomplish them with our full mental concentration. Yes, we can multi-task, perhaps women better than men, but intent and attention are two extremely important concepts now clouded by the distraction of technology. I remember hitting ultimate frustration when I was working on replying to a stressful email on my phone and someone FaceTimed completely interrupting the screen. I hit decline, and in that frantic clicking also hit delete losing what I had written. I then get a message from that person saying "I know you are by your phone you just posted on Instagram". When I say I almost threw my phone, I am not kidding. The only thing stopping me was the fact that device cost more than my car note. All of that was avoidable with the right steps of detachment and boundaries. Being "too accessible" is a real thing. And for your mental health and overall success, it is a very real thing.
Acknowledging the distraction is the first step. Researchers are discovering there is an actual technology induced attention deficit disorder. Recognizing the design to enable addiction is the next step. All I have to say is watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix if you haven't already. The next step is to trick yourself into breaking habit. Just like lemon juice on a baby pacifier to break their habit, you gotta lemon juice your phone. Okay, well not actually, but metaphorically speaking. When the new IOS update hit and I discovered changing my icons was possible, it was the first thing I did. Actually not seeing the icons, I subconsciously recognize such as Instagram or Tiktok, actually meant I had to search for them. If I had to spend the extra 60 seconds searching for them, it gave me more time to think about what I was doing and if I really needed to open the app or I was habitually checking like a crack addict. I also put apps into folders, perhaps for my OCD of organizing everything, but also because it created that extra "step" to opening. I turned off notifications, all of them except calls and important texts (yes you can turn notifications off for some people and I highly suggest to). I switched all unknown numbers to not ring, and just go to voicemail (the spam calls honestly drove me crazy). Please, if there is one change you make do this one. When you plug your phone into your car it can go into drive mode, where you cannot do a thing. The addiction extends to driving and I literally watch people in traffic scroll on IG.
2. Make habitual changes. This is where I started applying the same discipline I do in my training world to creating healthier phone habits. It actually takes discipline.
- Stop aimlessly checking for notifications on social media. Schedule actual social media time and do what you need to do then like posting or replying to DM's. If it is not helping your energy, inspiring you to do something in your life, or making you money, then WHY are you wasting your time. Seeing what your ex's new girl is doing has absolutely nothing to do with your life. Comparing yourself to photoshopped fitness girls has NOTHING to do with your body. You gotta really reset this toxic behavior and mentality. You don't need to know what someone else is doing and I repeat, social media is NOT real life. Every time you catch yourself aimlessly scrolling outside of your social media designated time, put money in a jar. That money then goes to charity. You have to start seeing your time as being valuable in a monetary concept and cut these habits that are wasting it.
- Stop taking your phone to the bathroom. First off ew. Second, why???
- Get a paper agenda, write your week schedule there. You can also have it in your phone for being on the go, but make paper habits to where you aren't dependent on only your phone.
- Stop sleeping with your phone in the room. Not only is it terrible for your sleep, but then it is probably going to be the first thing you check in the morning. Get an actual alarm clock that isn't your phone.
- Get use to it not being in your hand. Put it in your bag, in your desk drawer, away from your direct eye line.
- Send emails from your computer as much as possible.
- When you are spending time with someone, turn your phone off.
3. Schedule no phone times. I have Sunday's as my phone-less day, and I am actually eventually going to start taking no phone mini-vacations, when 2020 gets it together. There is a feature on the phone that allows you to lock apps for a certain time frame so use that if you feel you need that extra discipline. But, you have to train yourself to be alone with you and your thoughts every week for a period of time. I will definitely be doing an article on this and it's importance.
4. Create boundaries. Just as you have boundaries in your "off phone life", you need to on your phone. You do not owe anyone a 30 second reply. You are NOT accessible 24/7. People will continue what you allow, so it is up to you to build these boundaries. I did that by having two phones, one for work and one for personal. My work one, I turn off after my work hours, my personal one very few have the number for it and I have minimal social media on it.
Create social media boundaries. Unfollow anything that does not serve your greater development and betterment. I got rid of my TV "cable" years ago because I was so tired of seeing the news and the negative energy surrounding it. I then noticed my social media started making me feel that same way. I was seeing more news, and most of it fake news, and almost all of it negative news on my phone. I was being subjected to it without even wanting to see it. That led me to do a major social media purge. You don't owe anyone a follow. Even if they are friend or family member, mute them or unfollow them, it is JUST social media and if they can't understand it, then it isn't meant for them to understand. You are allowed to be selfish with what you expose yourself to. Just like I would walk out of a room of smokers because I do not want to breath it in, I unfollow. I owe no explanation beyond it didn't make me feel good. DO THAT, like now, without guilt.
Lastly check yourself. If you are this person actually entitled to knowing someone else's life via social media or phone behavior, you are just as bad. Do not put expectations on someone needing to reply to you instantly. Just because they just posted on Instagram doesn't mean they are available to you. Really check your own behavior. We are all guilty of this. But be aware enough to fix it.
5. Improve on your forms of communication. Remember when there were no cell phones? I might be dating myself, but I come from a childhood of a landline phone where if you wanted to talk to your friends you had to call, most of the time they didn't answer because the phone wasn't attached to their hand. So, you left a message and they got back to you. There was no entitlement of "I can't believe she didn't answer, what could she possibly be doing more important" or "he is ignoring me, how rude". People NEVER thought this. I even remember having a penpal with letters, yes written letters. I actually write letters every month to people in my life. The level of care and meaning a written letter holds over a text message is like comparing apples and oranges. People have such terrible communication skills now because they actually aren't putting thought or effort behind the words. I really encourage you to work on these skills off of your phone. There is so much value in this and I think you will find yourself attracting quality energy in your life doing so.
I hope this helps, it is a process and one I am currently working on myself.
Catch My Energy,