Ever since the smart phone era started, phones are everywhere. Some people even have multiple devices. And I get it. They are handy, reliable, helpful. But we’re also using them in excess and most of the time we don’t even realize it.
We are the generation capable of doing many things at once, without enjoying any of them. ― Dinesh Kumar Biran
Since I’ve started writing this post I’ve picked up my phone 4 times. Once because I got a notification, the rest simply because it was in my line of sight and I was looking for a distraction when words stopped flowing. And as a result, it’s been 20 minutes since I first wrote the title.
This is not OK. These tiny interruptions are A. disrupting my focus on countless occasions and it takes me ages to get back to the task and B. indirectly encouraging me to go for short term payoff (the pleasure of seeing cute Instagram photos or replying to texts), over the long term gain of completing my work and feeling productive and satisfied with myself.
I would be reaching for straws to link phone usage to depression, but it wouldn’t be far off. When at the end of the day I haven’t finished doing everything I set out, I feel bad and stressed that today’s not done tasks will have to pile on top of tomorrow’s work. Even more concerning is that research shows people are stressed out by their phones and the constant pressure of having to be up-to-date with everything. Sadly, we’ve even reached a point where we’re stressed out if we don’t have our phones, because we’re not up-to-date with everything.
So I’ve set out to try and distance myself from my ever-present companion. Since I’ve become aware of my pick-me-up habit, I’ve tried placing my phone in places I don’t usually see it when I have things to do. It’s not a revolutionary method and the internet is filled with many other suggestions, but for me it seems to be doing the trick.
Rather than reacting to my phone, I look at it in my own time, when I finish what I’m working on. What I’m also trying to do is to actively put it away while doing leisure activities, or shutting off notifications, so my fun time doesn’t get interrupted either. I’ve noticed I’m enjoying myself much more without the constant beeps.
So my challenge to you is to try and take half an hour a day without your phone. Even just some days if not everyday. Put an alarm on it, place it in a drawer and disconnect. Try doing this at a time when you’re not expecting calls or anything important to come up. Put it away and play with your dog/cat/kids, read a book (preferably not on a device), go for a walk. Leave it behind and enjoy the actual freedom of a modern day person.
Have a eudemonic week!
Photo credit to Jacob Ufkes.