Here's What Happend When I Ditched My Smartphone
Yes. It happend. I went TWO WEEKS without a phone. Two weeks of living, driving, having kids to pick up and errands to run, with no camera-email-texting-gps-google-social media-videos-music-games-journal-phone in my pocket.
I know what you're thinking. HOW?? Why?? And What Wound Up Happening?? (Did you die?!?)
Spoiler Alert! I lived. But just barely, haha.
But Seriously, how did this happen????
I didn't actually start my day thinking, "Hey, Ima ditch my phone for a social experiement." Because, who would do that to themselves, right?
My day actually started out rather normal. I was at the coffee and Instagram part of my morning, when my phone started doing this wobbly screen thing. It wouldn't let me scroll, then it posted some gibberish. I was like ????
Then I smelled something burning.
I ran to the stove thinking I'd left it on when I'd made my coffee, but it's off. I ran over to the smoke detector by the front door next and the smell came with me.
The only thing I brought was my phone.
I brought it up to my face to sniff it. It sure smelled burned. And I guess the wind of my sniffs was just what the embers inside needed to become a legit fire. Yes, A TINY FLAME SHOT OUT AT MY FACE then burned a tiny black line along my exposed speaker.
Oh, I didn't mention the exposed speaker? Yeah, my phone had a HUGE crack in it.
And I'd left it face down on the counter while I washed a few dishes before the coffee. I'm guessing it got wet.
So I facebooked my husband from the computer to tell him about it, but there was nothing to be done at that moment. Thanks to Hurricane Irma last month and 3 of my kids' birthdays plus Halloween this month, I couldn't just be like, "I'm off to buy a new phone on a Tuesday!" So I had to wait until Friday.
And, You Guys.
It was haaarrrrd.
I had a rather high-and-mighty attitude about myself and how "good" I was at "not letting my phone take over my life anymore" because I had deleted my Facebook app and I only check Instagram sometimes. Because I moved all the tempting icons from my phone's homescreen and I keep my phone in my purse when I'm hanging out with the kids.
It turns out that was all lies I was telling myself. I had a serious reality check, let me tell you.
And the reality is, I was hooked. I had major withdrawal symptoms the first three days. I was straight miserable the first day, pouty the second day, annoyed by the third.
And I wasn't the only one. My phone lived in a perpetual state of dead or dying because the kids were also always sneaking on it every time I put it down. So on top of my own misery, I also had the dreaded "Mo-om! I'm bored!" to deal with.
But then on Friday, day four, I kind of... got used to it. And that night after dinner, I said something crazy.
"I was thinking of trying to go without a phone for a whole month."
My husband looked up from his phone. "Noooooooo. You can't be without a phone that long. How am I going to get ahold of you?"
I shrugged. "Facebook."
And it was crazy. It is crazy, in this day in age, not to have a phone. But I really wanted to try it. I'd heard of putting a phone down for a day or while on vacation, but for a month? I wanted to know if it was possible. Obviously, I only made to two weeks, so if anyone else goes/went the full month, hit me up with your story, you Jedi Master!
The Bad, The Good and The Surprising
So I learned a lot of things in my two weeks without a phone. Some were bad, as you are probably already imagining, some were good, and some things I did not expect. Then tune in to the end, because I am going to share some tips with you if you want to try going #phonefree, too.
Lets just get it out of the way. I will be real and say that in so many ways, it sucked. Especially at first, because many times I would automatically reach for the phone to help me out, and it wasn't there. So
-I missed the baby's dr.'s appointment
-I had to drive up and down the street to find my eye dr.'s office
-I had to go to the pharmacy to order my prescription and wait for it instead of just calling it in from home
-I had to communicate with the kids teachers' via planner notes, no ClassDojo, no pocket email
-I missed countless opportunities to look things up on Google
-I had to leave my husband in charge of photos of us for Halloween, so even though we all stood there forever, he only took ONE flippin picture.
But the two biggies
- the twins got sent home from school and the nurse couldn't get ahold of me. So she called my husband at work and he also couldn't get ahold of me. So he called my mom, who had to open her shop late in order to drive to my house in the next town to tell me about the kids. Ugh!!! I have never felt so flustered in my life.
Oh but it gets better!
- the baby took her first steps! And I missed it! Missed it!! Well, my phone missed it. I was there, I saw it.
And that was the moment when I realized the worst thing of all.
I was there. I saw it. I was present. I witnessed the miracle of growth, the wielding of self-confidence, the passing of a milestone.
And all I could think about was that damn phone.
Do you know the signifiers of addiction? Soda, smoking, exes- I've had my share of controlling relationships. I know how to spot the signs. That's why I set up all the blocks, rules and systems to keep me from abusing my phone.
Even with all my checks and balances, it turns out I am still susceptible to the social media spiral. I spend a lot of time on Instagram. And I guess I moved all my reading to my phone? I don't know when that happend, but now I get all my news, bills, and letters as alerts, apps and emails on my phone. I don't read the paper at all, and magazines and books only a fraction of what I used to. I still write a lot in a notebook, but boy did I miss my evernote and its magical sync between desktop and phone during those two weeks.
But the biggest thing that I missed? Google. I am an information junkie, it turns out. Google is a huuuge part of my life.
I really missed knowing everything. I love to I-told-you-so people and Google helps me prove that I am right. So maybe my family was spared from my informational tyranny for a few days. But I never knew how much my life now depends on Google in order to function properly.
In the 50's, it was common advice for a housewife to quietly make creature comforts part of a spouse's life. When necessary, withdraw them so he sees how indispensible you are. I never realized that checking that little box at the bottom of the terms of service agreements was akin to signing vows.
But that is the level of commitment all of us have to our phones. Have you ever been the only sober person at a party? That's what these two weeks were like. Everywhere I turned, everywhere I went, everyone I saw, had their phones. If not using the phone, then holding it. Have you ever realized that you are essentially holding hands with your phone when you do this?
It shocked me to hang out with my husband in the evenings and realize that we just sit next to each other on our phones when we "hang out." And that the only reason I noticed was because I didn't have my phone to occupy me. I turned to look at him and all I saw was his profile. I bet when he turns and looks at me, that's all he sees, too. No wonder I feel lonely even though we spend lots of time together.
Not having a phone was starting to feel like an alternate universe. Especially because
-my house got surprisingly clean, surprisingly fast
-my do to list suddenly got a bunch of checkmarks
-I washed all the laundry and it didn't pile up again
-I cleaned out the kids' closets
-I learned how to make sofrito which then means
-I finally had a rice dish come out right- TWICE back to back
-I finally got around to cleaning out the garage
-I started working out with a weight I found in the clean garage
-I picked my mom up twice to hang out
-I went to the thrift store to hunt for books and
-I also found a fantastic print by an artist I've been eyeing- for $3 (retail $45).
-I read a book
-I started doing yoga on the regular, and in free moments while cooking or hanging out when I would've been on the phone before.
-I taught my kids how to meditate.
-I did the plank playing around with my kids and was surprised to find that I could hold that shit. Easily.
-I planned homemade costumes for the twins and I, then followed through with said plan, including face paint.
-I manicured my nails
And the two biggies
- I started writing that book I always said I was going to write. And I'm already a few thousand words in.
- I finally started that blog I kept saying I was going to start. You're reading it. Stay tuned, because I have a mass of material for this blog that is already written but just needs to be put together.
The things I always wanted to do, those dreams that I could never find time for, I found the time. It was literally in my hands all along. I am so grateful that the Universe conspired to light my phone on fire.
I learned from this experience that building the life of your dreams is all about your Daily Dos. Look at the little things you do today, because those are manifesting your future. If you always have an extra treat after dinner, you may manifest a widening waistline into your future. If you always make time for yoga, you may manifest flexibility. If you never make time for yourself, you may manifest burnout. What you do now, all those little things, they add up over time. Do I want to manifest a relationship with my phone, or do I want to write ninety freakin' thousand words, one day at a time? What sounds more amazing to me? "Oh, I held hands with my phone last year." or "Oh, I wrote a book last year."
I know what I want to be saying next November!
These are the kinds of things I pondered while waiting in line, or at the stoplight, or for the water to boil, without my phone.
If you want the time to do what you love, you have to give up time somewhere else. This was so obvious to me in the last two weeks. Just scroll back up to that list of shit that got done. Look at all those things I did. In just two weeks! And on top of all my regular shit.
I know you have one of those lists burning inside you too. I bet there are some things on that list that are gnawing at you. Those dreams. Those dreams on that list. They eat at you, don't they? You could have them. I've gotten a taste, and I'm never going back.
Don't get me wrong. I love my phone, I love technology and I love convenience. I'm not giving any of those things up. But I don't want to be a slave to unnecessary scrolling. I don't want to hold my phone all day anymore. Not when I can hold my dreams instead.
Is that something you want, too?
Here are some tips to get you started on your own #phonefree journey.
Tips For Going #PhoneFree
Make that list.
With my phone broken, I was forced to put it down. You will not have that level of enforcement, so make sure you have ready distractions! I didn't make my list until the 3rd day, because I was sick of feeling bored out of my mind. So I sat down and made this huge to do list, then I went around all day checking everything off without thinking and by the end of it, I felt great! It was amazing to get through so much! The next day, I made another list, then another and by the end of two weeks, I had written the first 3k words of my book.
So before you begin, sit down and make a huge to do list. Write down things that you need to do and things that you've always wanted to do. I'm talking dreams. Not just Vacuum the Carpets or Clean out the Garage. This list needs to get you excited! I want to see big things like Host a camping party with a fire pit, Go to the beach under the full moon or Write the first 10 pages of my book and little things like Paint my nails pink, Test that drink recipe, or Buy myself flowers.
And don't worry about doing everything on your list. You actually want to over list, so you can pick and choose depending on your mood. You can also add things as you think of them later.
Without life's utility knife in your pocket, you will have to plan ahead. Check maps and write down addresses, so you won't be driving up and down looking for something like I did with the eye doctor. (The sad thing is, I had been there before.) Check your calendar at your computer in order to plan out your day. A good way I figured out for this was to plan my day the night before, then leave my list near the coffee and my keys in the morning.
Give everyone a heads up.
Let all your people know that you will be doing this. Everyone will think it's crazy, and will surely tell you so, but trust me, they secretly admire you. Tell them how they can reach you in the meantime and for how long you will be #phonefree. Thank people ahead of time for their cooperation.
Keep a journal.
This is the most important one if you are using this experiment for personal growth. Write in this journal a little bit every day or night. I'm not talking essay, I talking a paragraph. Not even sentences.
"Today sucked. Missed my phone. Fuck this."
Is exactly fine, especially in the first three days. After that, feel free to keep venting, but also try to track any changes you notice in your routine. Once you stop feeling withdrawal, you will notice all the little (and big) moments throughout your day when you used to use your phone. Especially note the times when you look for your phone because you feel bored. This is the gold. This is the time that you can dedicate to your dreams.
Check those boxes!
Use that list! Make it a game to try to check as many boxes as you can. And be sure to look over you progress everyday. Don't look over what's left, dammit! Look over what's been done. Many of us do things without recognizing ourselves for it and I feel like it adds to our unhappiness. Celebrate yourself when you do something, you deserve it!
Unexpected things are going to happen. Some will be bad. But some will be good.
I actually thought everyone's worlds would fall down without me at their beck and call. They didn't. And turns out my world blossomed when I wasn't always available to serve everyone else.
You deserve to have those dreams in your hands. I thought I was having a bad day when my phone lit up. Turns out, I was handed exactly what I needed. For whatever reason, you stumbled on this article. I hope you will try this. Not for me, but for you.
Does this resonate with you? Is this something you would try, or do you think you could never dare? I know different people use their phones in different ways and maybe you feel chained to your phone?Tell me all about it in the comments.