I’ve known for a while that I am tiny bit addicted to my phone.
I mean, aren’t we all? Or don’t we all wonder if we are? We walk around with tiny computers in our pockets that hold the answers to everything. They’re our connection to our families and friends. They’re our way of looking cool and together when we feel awkward or board. They’re our road maps, our alarm clocks, our cameras, our planners, our entertainment.
Also we can call people. (Though I try to avoid doing that AT ALL COSTS.)
This month, I’ve been trying to reduce my phone time. I’ve learned a lot about my digital life. One of the things I’ve been contemplating is the WHEN of it all – when do I reach for my phone?
This is what I came up with so far:
I reach for my phone when I am doing something unpleasant. The first time I noticed this, it was a moment when Jonas had just started crying. I remember thinking that I would need to hold him and walk around with him for a while to help him fall asleep, and I immediately reached for my phone, so that I could put on a TV show or a podcast to listen to while I walked the floor.
This isn’t exclusive to baby tasks. I do the same thing if I’m about to do any chore I don’t like; I reach for my phone if I’m about to do the dishes, too.
I reach for my phone when I am tired. Or SICK! Ugh, anytime something physical is going on with me, I reach straight for whatever coping skill I can grasp. Sometimes it’s a diet Coke, or candy – and it is almost always my phone.
I reach for my phone when I’m bored. Yep. This one was no surprise.
I reach for my phone when I want to remember something or am afraid I’ll forget something. Sometimes, this is productive. My list of things to do is on my phone (using the Clear app), or I’ll set an alarm so I remember to do something later in the day. But I’m really trying to work on not feeling so compelled to immediately write down whatever it is I need to get done. I want to try to trust my memory more. I think I really will remember to do things, and I think feeling less compulsive about recording things on my phone will help me to feel happier and more peaceful.
I reach for my phone when I’m planning to use a specific app. Writing this list, I notice that some of these tendencies are things I want to stop (like scrolling when I’m bored) and some are more neutral. This one’s pretty neutral – I pick up my phone if there’s an app I want to use. Sometimes it’s practical (Google Maps, alarms) and sometimes it’s for entertainment or pleasure (Goodreads, Word Press, Audible, iBooks, Podcasts, texting). I do want to be mindful of which apps I want to have on my phone, but the pick-ups that occur when I’m planning to use Google Maps are not the ones I find problematic.
I reach for my phone when I’m looking for entertainment or background noise. This one is HUGE. I’m really working on using the iPad for entertainment purposes, just to decrease my overall screen time.
I reach for my phone when I’m experiencing social anxiety. This is the one I’m trying to be the most mindful of. When I’m in a group and feeling uncomfortable, I automatically find myself reaching for my phone. This past month, my consciousness of this habit grew. It’s a work in progress. Progress not perfection is my goal!
The first step in changing habits is identifying what you want to change. I can already feel a shift in my phone habits, just from understanding the reasons why I pick up my phone.