A little over a week ago I wrote some musings about TV, and a challenge I was going to undertake. Essentially, I wanted to cut out (or way down) my smartphone usage for a week.
Why? Because I found myself reaching for my phone way too often for my taste. I already don’t watch a lot of television, but I do use my phone a lot. And I wanted to reclaim my phone time for other activities I like to do. Reading. Baking. Arts and crafts. The list goes on.
Whether it’s checking e-mail, looking at my site stats, listening to a podcast, or using social media, my phone is rarely away from my hand.
Lets see how it went.
This week I was able to reduce my smartphone usage by 73%, according to my helpful weekly pop-up note about how much I’ve been using my phone.
Although this was great, I wish it were a lot more. Originally I was hoping for a total smartphone fast, which did not end up happening. I did reduce my usage quite a lot, and replaced some of my smartphone time with other activities.
Like what? Last week I:
- Read five books – Becoming by Michelle Obama, Hidden Figures, Better Off – Flipping The Switch on Technology, Women’s Work, and Wolf of Wall Street
- Made a pop-up card with the little guy for Easter
- Did a 3D puzzle with my middle son
- Went on an Easter Egg hunt with the younger two kids
- Baked a whole lot of stuff – white whole wheat M&M cookies, wheat bread, white whole wheat apple muffins, and homemade applesauce
- Worked in the garden
I also, of course, had a full week of work. Not having the smartphone available helped keep me better focused on the job at hand. I’ve gotten into a bad habit of picking up the phone during work breaks and getting sucked into whatever’s going on in the online world.
Honestly, it was nice to take a break from the constant need to be online. The main downsides were that I felt out of touch with my online friends, and it was difficult to respond to comments on the site.
I tried to save going on social media, and on my site, to when I could be on my home computer. Honestly I find it so much easier to just access those things on my phone.
What I Learned
It is darned hard to actually keep my phone off for a week.
First, texting my husband uses data on my phone (I have Virgin mobile, and we communicate through iMessage). Originally I thought I would just keep my phone in airplane mode all week and turn it on only if I needed to make a call. But that didn’t work since I still needed to communicate with my husband. So I kept having to turn it back on to get his messages.
And whenever I would pick it up and turn it on to get his messages, I would fall right into old habits and click around the phone. Ugh.
Without my phone, I did seem to do a whole lot more with my time. Instead of reaching for my phone to catch up on things, I would get up and do something. I would bring a book with me to read when I had the time, even while out and about.
The Importance of Balance
I love my smartphone. The fact that I now have access to a high-powered computer, phone, GPS, and camera all in one device never gets old.
I love being able to just Google whatever’s on my mind, whenever I’m thinking about it, and learn something new. I love having access to the news at my fingertips, and being able to get directions to wherever it is I need to go.
I’m old enough to remember the pre-smartphone world. I was 29 when I first got a smartphone, and can distinctly remember just how amazing the device was. I got the iPhone as a gift for my 29th birthday. Soon thereafter, my husband, brother, and aunt all bought one in quick succession.
Today, we take that amazingness for granted. Taking a break from the smartphone for a while helped me to focus more, and reminded me to do more of the real-world activities I enjoy. Those are both good things.
But it also reminded me of just how much things have changed in the past ten years since I first held an iPhone in my hand. Many of those changes have been good things. The quick and easy access to information. The ability to connect with people from around the country – and around the world – from anywhere you are.
The very idea of the computer and the internet was unimaginable fifty years ago. Having a high-powered computer in everyone’s pocket was science fiction fifteen years ago. Seventy-seven percent of Americans now own a smartphone, a number that’s doubled since 2011.
When it comes to smartphone use, I think balance is key. I don’t want to go back to the pre-smartphone era, but at the same time, I want to continue to cut back on my usage to make more room for the real-world activities I enjoy.
How about you? Did you take on the challenge yourself – and if so, what were your results? Let me know in the comments!