I left my phone at home one day last week. I teach orchestra pretty early in the morning, so in the dreary darkness while I was packing my bag and gulping down my coffee, I managed to get in the car and drive halfway to work before realizing I had left it on my dresser next to my hairdryer. (I’m guilty of checking it at stoplights, so that’s when I noticed I didn’t have it.)
My immediate reaction was PANIC! It was as if I had forgotten to my put pants on…I couldn’t even fathom getting through my morning of teaching without my iPhone nearby. Now, it’s not as if I’m using my phone to assist my teaching…I don’t literally need it for those morning hours of teaching orchestra. But I felt so disconnected without it. Just having my iPhone is a comfort to me, the way a blanket or stuffed animal is to a little kid. I need it!!
Surprisingly, (I know, BIG SHOCKER HERE), the morning went fine and no one died in the few hours I didn’t have my phone. I was able to drive home and get it, and no one had even texted me in those morning hours. So that made me feel really important.. 😉
I’ve been reading Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, in which she discusses her approach to reaching true success, meaning not just money, power, or status, but true happiness. She spends a decent part of the book writing about disconnecting from our digital worlds…because they’re not the real world!
Friends: I need to do this. I am writing this blog post from myself to myself. I need to learn how to not be on my iPhone 24/7. I’ve been contemplating this through the week, and I’ve come up with four simple ways I’m going to try to unplug this month. Now, February is about 1/3 of the way over, so I’m going to commit to these things for the rest of the month and see if they help me deal with stress and find my inner calm. (Because God knows I need that right now!)
1. Stop checking my phone while walking.
The number of pedestrian fatalities is on the rise, and while it’s unclear how many of these are due to walking while looking at a screen, there’s probably a connection between the rise in the amount of data we use and the rise in death and injuries of pedestrians.
I’m guilty. I walk and text all the time. I need to just stop! Seriously, what do I have to do on my phone that is so important that it can’t wait until I’m sitting down somewhere? This is a small change I can make that could potentially save me a sprained ankle (or worse!), and at the very least, it’s nice to make eye contact and smile at other pedestrians – I know that I always feel a little bit cheerier when someone offers me a smile for no reason! It’s much better than walking past a bunch of people who have their heads buried in their phones. (And like I said before – GUILTY!)
2. No emailing at stoplights!
Y’all, this is hard for me. Austin traffic is insane (INSANE!), so sometimes it takes 2-3 traffic light changes before I’m through. It’s pretty normal to be sitting at a traffic light for 4-6 minutes. I automatically think, “I could respond to emails during this time! Look at me! I’m so productive!” But it’s way too easy for me to either miss the green light and make the car behind me angry, or accidentally roll forward and hit another car….basically, nothing good can come from this. Plus it’s a good time for me to just be. Instead of checking my emails, I can breathe, listen to the music or audiobook, and think more deeply. All good things.
3. Put my phone away at meals.
I’m pretty good about keeping my phone hidden when I’m at a restaurant (unless I’m taking a picture for instagram!), but this month I’m going to aware of putting my phone in another room when I’m eating at home. Nate and I cook a lot together, and when we’re enjoying a meal together, I’m going to start putting my phone somewhere out of sight so I’m not tempted to check it when there’s a lull in the conversation. According to Sherry Turkle’s book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, we’re less likely to hold a good conversation if there’s a phone in sight. That’s right – even if I’m not on my phone, just having it visible on the dining room table while I’m eating with Nate can hinder our conversation. This is because you’re aware that at any moment the other person could stop talking to you and pick up her phone.
4. No social media on Sundays after 4
This will be the hardest one for me. I’m quick to pick up my phone and scroll through instagram for no reason at all except that it’s a habit. In order to unwind and prepare my mind for the week ahead, I’m going to do a “mini social media cleanse” on Sunday afternoons. (I considered doing this all day on Sunday, but I’m not ready for that big of a leap!) Hold me accountable on this one, ok? If you see me liking someone’s photo on Instagram on a Sunday afternoon, just let me know you caught me. 😉 I’m going to try to be strong on this one, because I truly believe the benefits will be substantial.
Ok, your turn. Do you have a favorite way to disconnect with your digital world in order to stay engaged with the real world? I realize the irony of asking this question on a blog… But I don’t have any dislike for blogging world at all; I’m just beginning to realize how easy it is to become addicted to my phone! Have you ever felt the same way?
Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great weekend, friends!