I read an article in December about a man who had a blank home screen and nearly no apps on his phone. He decided that his phone was not for those purposes and if he wanted to do things like check his email he would do it on his computer.
This hit me at ‘high-time’ when I needed a solution to my cell phone dependency and was ready to do something about it.
I was introduced to the smart phone after moving home from India in 2013. I was a little behind the trend and had already heard some say that it could be a potential ‘time-waster.’ So, I was a little hesitant, but went for it.
Since then, I have done significantly less reading and day-dreaming; going to bed on time and sleeping soundly; engaging my family in conversation and resting my mind.
Yes, I think those are the greatest negative effects it has had on my life. However, there are definitely significant benefits as well. I LOVE that I can use my phone to help me to be productive – iPhone’s Reminder app have been a LIFE SAVER! I also love notes, calendar, GPS, running app, access to music, and a great quality pocket sized camera!
I wouldn’t go back. But I was at the point where I was frustrated by how attached I was to my phone. Anyone else?
Me & My Phone
My main problem with my phone was that I grew into a habit of checking it every 15 minutes. Something about the screen drew me to it. The notifications and constantly updating feed on cellular apps send a sensory notice to the brain that makes it want to come back for more. This is what I define as stimulation; the same kind that children grow accustomed to by today’s TV. Shows like SpongeBob SquarePants change scenes every 11 seconds to keep children’s attention. It does keep their attention, but it also trains them to need this kind of stimulation and less stimulating things become boring. (More info on this here).
I missed just sitting in the living room on a regular evening during the week and letting my mind drift. I definitely don't think that there's anything wrong with scrolling through your phone at the end of the day and catching up on things. I was just frustrated by the habit it had created in me without purpose. When I didn't have anything to do, I would pick it up. I believe that boredom inspires creativity and is a VERY GOOD thing for the mind. I also believe that un-training our minds to be highly stimulated will help us to engage more with the beautiful things that are going on in our lives. Though I’ve never been in the habit of having my phone out when I’m out with my friends or family, I scroll through it in the evenings when we’re relaxing at home. Sure, I’ll put it down to talk with them, but if I didn’t have my phone to put down, what conversation or activities would I initiate? How much better would I listen? What books would I read? How much less pressure would I feel to always be ”in-the-know?”
Our minds need time to rest; un-stimulated, especially at night. Taking my phone to bed with me, while using it as an alarm clock, became a terrible habit. Hours could pass before I was ready to sleep and the light from the screen made me feel more awake!
So this is what I came up with and it has been so beneficial for me, maybe it will be for you to!
· 30 days (Or you could do it for Lent, which is Feb 10 (Ash Wednesday) to Friday, March 25 (Good Friday)
· Remove apps from phone – You decide which ones, depending on their draw to you. I removed Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and a lot of things that cluttered my phone. I could still access these things on the browser on my phone if I wanted, but the lack of ease (harder to scroll) wasn’t nearly as enticing. Also, the one extra step to put the web address into the browser to open the app really helped me to decide if I was doing it out of habit or not.
· Clear home screen – This is up to you. I made my home screen clear, moving things to the second and third pages and a lot of things into folders, just for the piece of mind.
· Don’t keep your phone sitting with you – Put your phone in the next room or in your purse. This included when I was relaxing on the couch, watching a movie, or anytime I wasn’t actively using my phone for something.
· 15-minute limits – Give yourself time to browse the apps on your phone if you like, but limit it to 15 minutes at a time and only 2-3 times a day. Then resort to putting your phone out of arms reach again. If there are articles that you would like to read, I would recommend printing them out and putting them next to your periodicals to read them during your down time. It is important to not be staring at a screen to reduce the stimulation.
· No phone in the bedroom! – You may need an alarm clock to replace your phone. (There are cheap ones at Wal-Mart and on Amazon. I got this simple white one). This was a big step for me. The first time I walked my phone downstairs to leave charging on the kitchen counter, I walked back upstairs, turned my lamp on and reached for my phone. Ah! Haha. It was such an instinct for me to grab my phone while I was rolling into bed; a little way to ‘unwind.’ My brain really had to adjust, and this was the hardest step, but my mind was able to rest and I slept much better! It may be a good idea as well to put your phone away an hour before bedtime to help your mind to start resting.
How It Worked for Me
I started seeing changes within the first two weeks. I forgot about my phone and grabbed for it much less. It was such a freeing thing. I didn’t need my phone nearly as much as I thought. The progress continued and has remained since my fast has been over as well. My brain no longer requires that much stimulation anymore, and it’s such a blessing!
You may decide to download some of your apps back to your phone once you are done with the fast, which is totally fine, and you may decide to keep some of the rules permanently. Either way, I imagine that this will be a good thing to do periodically.
Hope you were inspired by this and moved to make a change in your life too!
Here's to more daydreaming and conversation!
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