There is a fear I have. It’s a silly fear, but I’m pretty sure most people have it. I’m really scared of going to the bathroom without my phone, Kindle, or iPad. I don’t want to be scared of this. In fact, I want to enjoy this moment of solitude.
But I don’t! I can’t! Not yet, anyway. I’m practicing, every time I need to go. I even have to practice the other moments. Those moments that don’t constantly stimulate me with information, especially unimportant information.
I’ll be lounging around with my wife (my favorite conversation partner) and absent-mindedly flip on my phone. Oh! A Notification! 30 seconds later I realize it’s quiet. She isn’t talking any more. Oh! What an asshole I am!.
What’s worse is I’m a hypocrite, too. A while back in the middle of a conversation, my wife’s phone rang. She answered it! I was taken aback, insulted and she heard about it. Since then we’ve tried to simply ask permission from those we are with before answering the phone (or a text).
This has helped, but I still constantly feel compelled to grab my phone. I’m not talking to anybody on it or reading a text. I’m reading the news! Or Twitter. It’s an addiction, and I’m stopping it. Trying to, anyway. Here’s my method:
5 Tips to break the chains
- Tell your life partners (family, close friends) you want to be more in the moment, less time on apps.
- Stop carrying your phone around. Put it down. It won’t break. It also won’t run off and find a new owner. It will love you the same amount.
- Only check it at set times (I do on the hour, but started out every 30 minutes). If you miss that time by more 5 minutes, wait until the next set time.
- Failing once doesn’t mean failing for the day. I checked my phone at 6:30, I shouldn’t have. I caught myself, put it down and said, “I’ll finish this at 7!” Get back on the bandwagon as soon as you fall off.
- When you reach for your phone (which means I clutch at an empty pocket) instead take a moment to absorb what’s going on around you. Who is with me? Are they smiling? Is there music playing? What color are the walls? Be there, physically and mentally. Use the phone to cue this behavior. You can’t be there and be on the phone.
How did it go?
The final tip is more long-term. Revisit this and acknowledge what you are doing. Talk about the difficulties. Habits are hard to break and this one is even harder than most. Set a calendar reminder at 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 3 months. Talk about it with someone (preferably those who you told, see item 1).
Acknowledging the work and planning for a future review will increase the probability of success. Schedule those future reviews, though, otherwise they won’t happen.
We miss so much of the world around us because we’re trapped looking at a tiny electronic device. The people we share our lives with are amazing and we deserve to experience all of them.