Growing up in Canada, I remember stores being closed on Sundays. Then in 1985, the Supreme Court overruled a law preventing Sunday business transactions. And suddenly, stores were open on this previously protected day of rest. I recall being mildly aware of the heated debate generated among the adults: was this a good thing or a bad thing?
Fast forward to today and it feels like the world is always open. After all, we’re only one click away from accessing practically anything online.
This constant connection has begun to absorb more of my life than I like. I’m starting to note how often I pick up my phone and it looks a little like this:
And on and on it goes.
Oh, did I mention it’s Saturday?
I know I’m not alone. Perhaps this is why we’re seeing more and more people putting their phone on a diet.
The latest trend
Tiffany Shlain advocates turning off screens for one day every week in her new book 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week. She cites many compelling benefits from a neuroscience, philosophy, psychology and historical perspective.
I can absolutely see the benefits of a day of disconnection. We become less distracted. More focused. More present. This change is appealing to me as we head into the holiday season and also throughout the year.
But is a phone diet realistic? After all, I use my phone actively in both my work and personal life. On weekends, I’m coordinating carpools, checking my calendar, using Google Maps and generally staying in touch with friends and family. I even use my phone for meditating: I’m a big fan of the Headspace app.
Flat out abstinence feels unattainable. But I could wrap my head around a phone diet. So, in the spirit of enjoying all the non-digital holiday season has to offer, I’m trying out a new evening and weekend phone routine. I’m focusing on these non-business hours because this is when I find technology is doing more detracting than enhancing in my life.
My Evening & Weekend Phone Diet:
- Park my phone: I commit to parking my phone in the charging station from 6p.m. until 6a.m. every evening and all day long on weekends. I will still use my phone occasionally (see #3), but I know parking it at home will help me greatly curtail usage.
- No more email: I will no longer check email on my phone during evenings/weekends. If I feel compelled to check email during the evening, I’ll power up my laptop. As an added bonus, I find it much easier to apply the One-Touch principle when I’m on my laptop. I already feel more productive!
- Limit use: While I will continue to text, make calls, snap pictures and access other core apps, I will limit any indulgent phone use, both at home and when I’m out and about. I’m moving all non-essential apps to another screen to prevent unconscious clicking.
Three simple commitments, but wow. I must admit I feel a tad anxious even as I write this. Countless “what if” scenarios are already popping into my mind. But I know the benefits will far outweigh the drawbacks and I’m ready to jump phone-first into this experiment.
Most importantly, I’m aiming to eliminate unconscious phone use. Rather, I want to pause and consider whether I’m clicking on an app out of dire urgency or simply out of curiosity. To help me achieve this goal, I’ve downloaded Amy Blankson’s intention phone screens.
Of course, if there is an urgent situation, I can bypass this rule. Just like a food diet, I can have the occasional cheat meal and still stay on track.
What about you? Are you game to play along with me? What does (or will) your phone diet look like? Please share and let’s hold each other accountable! This could be exactly the kind of reboot we need throughout the holidays or any time of year.