Taking a Break from My Phone

On social media I observed friends discussing the book. My wife ordered a copy and began reading it on our vacation last month. I thought, “I don’t really need to read that book.”

Some weeks passed, and I realized it wasn’t long until I would return to work for the back-to-school meetings. There were many things still on my to-do list for the summer, including various preparations for fall semester. I tend to be more easily distractable when I have much to do, and my phone is the primary means by which I wander off the trail into digital Mirkwood.

The book is “How to Break Up  With Your Phone” by Catherine Price. I read it in two days. (I can’t remember the last time I read a book in two days.) I learned so much, and I won’t ramble about all that I discovered, except to say that I did need to read the book and that I do need to “break-up” with my phone.

Today is the first day of the 30-day detox plan. My wife and I are holding each other accountable, and we plan to discuss our experiences. For me, I’m breaking up with my phone because I want to be more present, wherever I am. I also want to read and write more, and puttering away on my phone pushes against those goals.

Because I already finished the book, I started the process early, decluttering my phone on Friday afternoon, an activity that I found freeing. And for the first time in nearly four years of having a smartphone, I left it charging outside of my bedroom while I slept.

But what about an alarm? Oh, yes, my watch has an alarm. On Saturday morning I woke up to that alarm, and then reached on my dresser for the phone, only to remember that it was in another room. (Ha! Joke’s on me!)

In the kitchen I prepared my breakfast, and poured myself a cup of coffee. My phone sat on the windowsill near to our table. What happened since I last checked it? I wondered. But I told myself, “no, you don’t really need to check anything now.”

I hadn’t checked my social media accounts for 24 hours. I survived. And the funny thing is, I didn’t miss anything important or significant. I used Instagram to post before-and-after pictures from the 5k race my son and I ran (his first race, by the way).

Later Saturday afternoon, I checked Facebook, Twitter, and my two email accounts, using my computer, and that took less than 5 minutes. I checked Instagram on my phone, spending less than 2 minutes.

It’s not about “numbers” for me or simply about being more “productive.” Rather, I’m wanting to avoid the dreaded “time-suck” that regularly occurs when I use my phone. I’m wanting to avoid all my comparisons with others that I follow on social media through my phone.

Now about the picture I chose. Notice the phone in the middle. There’s the distraction, keeping me from being present when I’m writing (or any number of other activities). I’m already a few days into this process, and I love the way I feel, and that’s primarily why I’m pressing onward, remembering to stay on the path.

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