Breaking Up with My Phone: Day 28

Day 28 is all about the seven phone habits of highly effective people.

We have put in a lot of effort into establishing the foundations of a healthy relationship with our phones. But sticking with this new relationship will be difficult. Not only are mobile phones here to stay, but with every new generation, they’re also likely to become even harder to put down.

To stick to our intentions, it’s essential to have a plan. Come up with your own personalized descriptions for the following seven habits about how you interact with your phone and other mobile devices.

I Have Healthy Phone Routines

A lot of the changes we’ve made to our routines have the potential to become habits, but since they’re not yet automatic, these changes are still pretty fragile.

To become true habits, these new behaviors need to become so second nature that we do them without thought. The best way to accomplish this is to make decisions ahead of time about how we want to act in particular situations, so that when we encounter those situations, we follow our new, healthy habits without having to think.

For example:

  • Where do you charge your phone?
  • At what time do you put it away for the night?
  • When do you check it for the first time in the morning?
  • Where do you keep your phone while you’re at work?
  • Where do you keep your phone while you’re at home?
  • Where do you keep your phone at meals?
  • Where do you carry your phone?
  • What do you use your phone for?
  • What are the situations in which you have decided that you don’t use your phone?
  • Which apps are tools that enrich or simplify your life?
  • Which apps do you know are dangerous/the most likely to suck you in?
  • Based on your answer to the previous question, which apps/websites do you block, and when?

I Have Manners, And I Know How To Use Them

Where do you keep your phone, and how do you interact with it when you are:

  • Spending time with people?
  • Watching a movie or television show?
  • Having a meal?
  • Driving a car? In classes, lectures, or meetings?

It’s also worth thinking about how you’d like other people to interact with their phones when you spend time together and how you will request that they do so.

For example, no phones during meals, no phones out when driving together, and/or phones put away during classes and lectures out of respect for classmates and teachers.

I Cut Myself A Break

First, it’s important to cut yourself a break if and when you slip back into old habits. This happens to everyone. The less time we spend beating ourselves up, the faster we’ll be able to get back on track.

Second, you may want to actually give yourself permission to scroll mindlessly through your phone during a particular time of day. Allowing yourself regular guilt-free phone time will help you avoid bingeing and make it much easier to stick to your overall goals long term.

Also, given the effects our phones have had on our attention spans, you may need to schedule regular phone time for yourself when you’re trying to work on your ability to focus. Start small, focus on something for ten minutes, and then give yourself one minute on your phone.

If you’re worried that a half hour of free phone time will quickly become two hours, then use an app-blocker to schedule sessions for yourself in advance.

Perfection Isn’t The Point:

If you’ve gone through this entire breakup, and your relationship with your phone still doesn’t feel perfect, it’s not supposed to be. Our phones are reminders that everything in life is constantly changing and that fluctuations are inevitable. Some days you will feel good and others you won’t, and that’s okay. As long as we’re cultivating self-awareness, we’re on the right track.

I Phast

By now, we’ve experimented with a lot of different ways to take breaks from our phones. Now’s the time to put our intentions down in writing. How and when will you phast?

I Have A Life

If we don’t have predefined ways to pass the time without our phones, then we’re much more likely to slip back into our old habits. So take a moment to to write a list of some non-phone related activities that bring you joy or satisfaction, and what you will do to incorporate those activities regularly into your life.

For example:

  • I love to read and write so I will set time blocks for when I can write during the day and I will read whenever I have downtime throughout the day (letting the dog outside, going to the bathroom, waiting for food to cook on the stove, etc.)
  • I enjoy spending time with friends, so I break out my planner and discuss with them when both of us can make some time to see one another

I Practice Pausing

Why do you think stillness is important to practice? What will you do when you find yourself with a minute of downtime? A half hour? Several hours?

I Exercise My Attention

In order to undo the damage caused by the cumulative hours we spend on our phones, we need to restrengthen our attention spans, and engage in regular exercise (both physical and mental) to keep our brains in shape. Identify several attention-building exercises that you would like to habitually practice, or that you are already practicing and would like to continue.

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