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I think its time we learned how to put down our phones. A friend shared a bunch of art on Facebook that really caught my attention. One image particularly stood out- it was a person whose face had been sucked into the screen of their phone, making their face and their phone appear to be as one. As I sat there on Facebook, my scrolling thumb lifted off the screen, and my eyes looked around my empty living room as I realised how absolutely true it is that a picture says 1,000 words.
This is an ongoing discomfort in my life, finding the balance between the usefulness of my ‘smart’ phone, and feeling like it is driving me to distraction. Can you relate?
Is a Dumb Phone the answer?
Once, a couple of years back, I took on the challenge and bought a dumb phone. I just wanted a break from all those notifications, endless apps and constant distraction, so I figured that buying a cheap phone phone (you know, the ones where you can make calls, and text really slowly!) would be a good way to go. I know, I know, I can turn off notifications, I can put it down, turn it off...but I don’t. I was looking for a drastic change.
Here's the thing though. I didn't really recognise how much of an everyday tool my smartphone was. It was annoying enough having to export all my contacts, print and carry the list in my bag in case I wanted to make a phone call, let alone having to re-learn how to use the numbers to text someone (‘Hey I’m running late, should be home by about 8:30 I reckon” turned into “L8. HM @ 830?”).
Smart phone companies are pretty clever!
I read somewhere recently that the goal of a smartphone company is to make use our phones for everything- all on one easy platform that fits right in our pocket or bag. I’d say they are doing a great job. As I struggled with the limited capacity of my dumbphone (what, I have to DELETE messages I only sent yesterday, ALREADY?), figuring out how to lock and activate it and how to find things in the very annoying menu, I realised that I use my phone A LOT MORE than I think.
Day 1 with a dumb phone
I go to set my alarm before bed and realise I need to find the clock settings and navigate this weird menu. I find it in the end, thinking: “I am victorious, who needs a smartphone anyway?”
The next morning, I wake up and go to check my emails but realise I can’t. I feel freed!
After drinking some water, I look for my phone to record my daily water intake...but oh, can’t do that either. “Oh well,” I think, “I’ll have to just remember how much I drank, no dramas.”
Next, my son comes out wanting to know how much mufti costs at school today. Oops, I’m not sure how to find out at 8am without the school app, sorry son!
I go for my morning run, but cant record my splits because I don’t have Runkeeper on my dumbphone, or listen to music. That’s ok, I can enjoy the sounds around me, and I can time my run and guess the distance...I guess…
Later, at the supermarket, I am considering purchasing some spices, but on a whim I wonder if they would be cheaper at the Indian grocer, so I whip out my phone to do a google search and sigh. Not to worry. I’ll go check later.
When I sit down to work and check my emails on my computer I do feel a sense of enjoyment in knowing I haven’t checked my phone every time it binged with a new message. It’s a little hard later on however, when I want to go out to a friends house and can’t use my GPS for directions- who uses maps anymore?
When I am planning for a picnic the next day I figure since the weather forecast is pretty much always wrong anyway, I haven’t lost much functionality there!
When I go online and need to login, I realise I have all my passwords in a password keeper on my phone too, epic fail there.
I can’t catch up on the latest podcasts, I can’t listen to an audiobook while I unpack the groceries, and I can’t listen to music while I am driving to pick the kids up from school.
It strikes me that despite the usefulness of my smartphone, I seem to do a lot more multitasking just because I can. I can listen to a book, unpack the shopping and cook dinner. I can go for a run, listen to a podcast or even make a phone call (if I can breathe!). Isn’t this the message we are constantly receiving today? Is it such a wonder that our kids think they “need” a phone- after all, they see their parents on one on and off throughout the day.
I thought about how distracted I am feeling, all the time. I don’t like it. When I get up to read my bible, I can’t sit and focus well. When I sit outside for a picnic, I am not as good as I used to be at just watching the clouds go past, or really being engaged in the conversation around me. I figured a good place to start would be to do some mindfulness. Then I had to laugh because the first place I wanted to turn to source some was an app! How clever are smartphone manufacturers! They are so smart. (sorry, dad joke!)
I have an iPhone, and when I upgraded to the new iOs with screen time, I found a new function to love and hate all at once! I can go into my phone and see exactly how long I have spent on my phone. And you know what’s crazy is how long I spend on my phone in a week. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
Its time to set better boundaries with our phones. Seriously. Its time to PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE!
I have created a FREE, 5-day challenge to help you do just that- put down your phone.
- If you are looking to start doing something about your phone and taking control back, this challenge is for you!
- If its time to take action and start using your phone instead of having IT use you, this challenge is for you!
All you need to do is put your details in the form below. You will receive an email with a worksheet and video in it each day for the next 5 days.