I’ll admit I’m a phone addict. Any spare moment in my life where I’m not doing something, out comes my phone to check the latest news or scroll something mindlessly.
I’ve taken small steps to address this in the past (charging my phone overnight in a separate room to where I sleep to avoid trawling websites while in bed) but it is a tough habit to kick.
So when my phone stopped working I felt a sense of dread and panic. How will I survive without it? Well, I had an enforced period of cold turkey to help me found out.
At first it was liberating and a bit of a novelty, it was nice to be the only analogue person I knew in a digital world. The replacement phone I had (pictures above) meant I was able keep in contact and be contacted via texts and phonecalls (remember those!) – the original intention of a phone.
We all feel the need to be constantly connected but as I spend most of the day looking at a computer screen I enjoyed the time away from my desk without distraction.
So far so good, but was there anything that I missed?
To be honest I did find it harder to communicate with others, I hadn’t had to use a keypad to type messages for years and forgotten how long it takes!
It restricted what I really wanted to say on occasions and at times I didn’t send a message as I didn’t want to spend five minutes typing it out. Also not being able to take a photograph of anything I see was a real loss, having a camera in my pocket is something I really appreciate now.
It was also a lot harder to keep track of my money and what I’m spending as I didn’t have access to my money log app.
Being able to tot up my spending as I go and check my balance at any time is invaluable and helps keep control of my finances.
Sad but true – I missed counting the pounds and pence.
And as I cycle everywhere it’s always good to have an accurate weather forecast to hand and have access to GPS maps to avoid getting lost.
When going somewhere new it did require a bit more organisation on my part which wasn’t that bad. It’s much easier to carry an A-Z on your phone.
One thing I really didn’t miss though was the constant buzz of notifications vying for my attention.
When I get an email or message I’m a reply straight away kind of person, if I didn’t I’d think I wasn’t keeping on top of things.
As each notification comes through the impulse to give in to the phone addiction gets too much for me to bear and I crack and before you know it I’m down the rabbit hole and shut off from the world.
Without these notifications I found that I still managed to keep on top of things that I needed to do and the absence of the technical distraction that they cause meant I could keep focused on the here and now and engage with what I was doing.
I found my concentration in general improved and my mind got used to dealing with just one thing at a time as opposed to waiting for the next distraction to pop up on my phone which obviously required my immediate attention.
My 13 days of cold turkey is now over but it has helped me kick a few bad habits and will definitely change the relationship with my phone.
My phone home screen used to be cluttered with apps that I did use but not on a daily basis (not quite “just in case” apps but not far off). So now I am only adding back apps when I actually need to use them. So far I only have added in the ones I mention above and don’t envisage adding in many more as they were a distraction as opposed to a necessity.
I’ll also be reducing the notifications I receive to only be things that would require my immediate attention, anything else can wait until I choose to check them. The last 13 days have helped me realise that I want to be in charge and set my own schedule as opposed to my phone being in the driving seat. In our connected world it’s so easy to lose control of aspects of our lives and this is one habit I’m definitely going to end.
So am I glad to have my phone back? Definitely, but it has helped me reassess my unhealthy relationship with it. There are so many great practical applications that it has that do improve my life but it’s about realising which ones are genuinely useful and not letting others sneak in and take away your free time. Not quite a digital declutter but more of a tidy up!
Phones are for communicating not shutting off from the world, my main focus now will be on my immediate surroundings and taking control back from my phone.