If you read last week's post, you know that my New Year's resolution is to live a slower and more enjoyable life. I am starting this resolution early. The holiday season seems like the perfect time to slow down and enjoy my surroundings and the people in them, rather than to rush through with a giant to-do list. As I mentioned in my last post, I am working on taking things out of my life that aren't practical, purposeful, serving others, or bringing me enjoyment.
I spent the first week that I committed to this resolution slowly reducing something in my life that most of us are constantly giving our time to. It is something that was taking up a lot of energy, yet didn't provide a ton of enjoyment for myself personally. You might be able to figure out what I gave up by reflecting on your own life and what you give too much time and attention to. Any guesses? Common this one is pretty obvious (especially if you read the title of this post - ha!) ...
Yup... my cellphone.
To clarify, I didn't get rid of my phone altogether. I have dramatically been changing the way that I use it. I did a seven day detox of sorts, and really cleaned up my act when it comes to how I use my phone. How did it turn out? Well, first let's chat about the changes I made.
Each day I made a very small shift in the role my phone plays in my life. I didn't stop using all social media, browsing the internet, and stop connecting with people altogether on the first day! I knew that I needed to make one small change at a time for it to be effective for me, and so that I didn't give up and go back to my old ways. Here are the daily changes I made.
Seven Day Phone Detox
Day One: Disable the Facebook app
I didn't say no more Facebook - I can still use Facebook on my desktop computer. This just eliminated mindless scrolling when I was bored, or avoiding life in general. It worked - I haven't been on Facebook on my phone since removing the app (13 days ago!).
Day Two: Disable the Instagram app
Yesterday, after I disabled Facebook I spent all my time on Instagram. I knew it was time to disable this one too. I like Instagram and will likely re-activate it in the future, but for now, it is gone!
Day Three: Disable YouTube app
This was actually the hardest one for me. I have a secret love of listening to Youtube videos while I get stuff done around the house. My even bigger secret is that I use it as a bit of a coping mechanism for when the kids are driving me crazy and I need to get my mind elsewhere for awhile. I have noticed that when I listen to Youtube I don't pay enough attention to the kids. Although Youtube is enjoyable for me, it comes with a cost that is bigger than my entertainment. See yah later YouTube!
Day Four: Set a phone "wake up" time
How many of us look at our phones the moment we wake up, and scroll through them throughout our mornings while getting ready. I was so guilty. Then my morning was a mad rush to get out the door and I felt like I was either always late or always on the verge of being late. The phone was filling my life up and making it more fast-paced than it needed to be. I decided that from when I wake up (around 6am) until we are all ready for the day (8:30 am) - I wasn't going to look at my phone at all.
Day Five: Set a phone "bed time"
When I am tired and procrastinating getting ready for bed, I tend to mindlessly look at my phone. I would much rather crawl into bed with a good book, but while I am getting ready for bed and getting a few last things done around the house - the phone always comes along. Now, on nights when I am home and putting the kids to bed, no phone starting at 7pm so I can give them my full attention. Once they are in bed, I can wind down for the night and give my phone a rest. Often times I go to the gym in the evenings, and on these nights, my phone goes away when I get home, which is usually around 8pm. Sorry friends that have been texting me in the evenings!
6. No phone at the table
I am bad for reaching for my phone while eating a meal if it's just me and the kids - or I am alone. The multi-tasking thing doesn't help my slower life goal. Also, I am not giving the kids my full attention and sometimes even get annoyed when they interrupt me at meal times. It is hard to pay attention to what you are eating and enjoy it when you are trying to look at your phone and your kids are trying to get your attention - just typing that makes me feel a little stressed!
7. Reflect and review
I wanted to make this a seven day detox, but I was happy with my new phone habits and didn't feel the need to add another step. Today I tried to be extra mindful when I went to pick up my phone. I asked myself if what I was doing could wait, or if it was even important or necessary at all. It could almost always could wait, and it often wasn't important and didn't even need to happen.
So how did it go? When I started this challenge, a lot of personal issues came up. I actually had some pretty tough days, and learned some new things about myself. I also had a really good and discussion with my husband about an issue we have had for a long time. That interaction wouldn't have happened if I was too busy looking at my phone to talk. I have realized that my phone has become a coping mechanism. Rather than allowing myself to feel all the feelings I have been staring at a screen - which is not how I want to live my life, or the example I want to set for my two little ones.
I finished this exercise almost two weeks ago and I have kept almost all of these habits going strong. The only one I haven't fully adhered to is Youtube. I have still disabled the app on my phone, but I have used my web browser to watch a couple videos while I was home alone and working in the kitchen.
I am not sure when I will reintroduce some of these things back into my life. I have heard it takes 21 days to form new habits so I am in no rush. I am also enjoying having less phone in my life and more interactions with real people. I think this will continue to hold true over the holiday season.
Is this something you could benefit from? I would encourage you to consider doing your own challenge when it comes to technology. Could you reduce time spent in front of a screen? It may be costing you time, energy, and interactions with people and not bringing you enough enjoyment. You don't need to do the same challenge as I did, but I encourage you to make a series of very small changes rather than one large one. Let me know if you plan on trying it!
This was just the first step I took towards making my lifestyle slower and more enjoyable. I can share more on this subject if you are interested. Happy Monday everyone!