I have seen a whole lot of posts recently about how addicted we are to our smart phones and electronic devices, and I wrote about it here last year. Despite all of my good intentions at the time of writing that piece, I am sorry to admit I didn’t manage to do any of them. In all of the courses I deliver, I talk about the need to have down time from being connected, and I suggest switching off at 9pm at the latest. I stress the importance of not using devices in bed, for a whole plethora of reasons, too great to mention but one vital and frightening issue of melatonin release or rather non-release being just one, however sadly up until now I haven’t been following my own advice, sound as it is. 🙂
I could not possibly begin to guess how many times a day I check my phone. First, it acts as my watch and my alarm, connects with my fitness tracker and wakes me up, and that’s just the smallest of tasks I use it for. It is the first thing I check in the morning and the last thing to be switched to flight mode at night. That is one non-negotiable in our house, phones off with no notifications or interruptions when sleeping. We used to put them on silent but now it’s flight mode.
I am always receiving messages and notifications from the gazillion apps and social media platforms I use, and don’t get me started on Facebook, where I have my private page, 12 business pages and multiple groups I am active in. None of these things are actually the problem, they are actually ok as it’s my work and how I earn a living. It’s the scrolling, the mindless scrolling, rather than sitting quietly – ever. The second there is nothing happening, even at the traffic lights, waiting for something or someone anywhere, I check it. Just look around anywhere, anywhere, anywhere you go, and everybody is heads down looking at their screens. Sometimes when I watch movies or TV shows from a time where there were no devices (not that long ago!) I long for a simpler time. Remember when friends used to disagree over something; the name of a song, a movie, a piece of history? Much debate and discussion would ensue until somebody remembered it, or found the answer in a book, or if you were really stuck phoning a wise friend or even a radio station if it was a song? Now, we don’t give our brains even a second to find the answer, to go back through our memories, we just google it. I am sure this will affect our cognitive abilities in time, because as we know neurons that fire together wire together, and neurons that don’t fire, eventually wither.
The only time I am not using my phone is when I am dreadlocking hair. It is a lovely antidote to my usual work and I really enjoy it. My hands are busy, I use a method that is a lot like weaving, so there is an artistic aspect with a mindfulness twist, and I get to talk with amazing clients. Bliss!!!
Lately I have been really wanting to make a change, but I haven’t been successful so far. I did take a 5 day Facebook holiday and really enjoyed it a few weeks ago, and I would really love to do more digital downtime now. Tonight I had a bit of a wake up call. I was going out for a massage and I made a very conscious decision to leave my phone on the table at home. What if I needed something? What if something happened to my car? What if what if what if? No, it was going to stay home, and that was it. Off I went, full of enthusiasm for my first stint of many of regular phone free time, and vowed that at least 2 hours every day from now on I wouldn’t check it. So I am at the massage place, getting undressed, put my handbag in the little box and suddenly I hear it, a messenger notification. My phone was in my bag! Even though I had made that VERY conscious decision to leave it at home, I must have picked it up and put it in my bag, what tha!!!!!!!????
With the instant access to information and stimulation, I am also noticing that I procrastinate a lot, lose time while browsing when one site leads me to another and another and another, I don’t read my precious books as I always have for my whole life and a whole lot of other nonsense stuff that I have observed that I don’t really like.
So what I am going to do about it?
1. I am going to set up a charging station in my office for all devices and they must stay in there until the morning.
2. I am going to switch off at 9pm at the latest.
3. I am going to have a go at switching the data off on my phone occasionally during the day. At least until the habit of constantly checking for notifications subsides in time.
4. I am going to have dedicated screen free time every morning and afternoon.
5. I am going to start having a screen free day fortnightly and then eventually weekly.
Wish me luck! I will let you know how I get on next week!
Want to join me on a digital detox?