This past weekend, I took a trip to Chicago with my Aunt. I’d never been to the city, and it did not disappoint. Not only did we have gorgeous weather, but we were able to see the Bean and the top floor of the Willis Tower with minimum crowding.
We went to lunch at this adorable Russian Tea Time restaurant. I had never done a brunch like they served us – a three-tiered tray of goodies and delicious teas. The experience was awesome – and even though a guy stole my phone toward the end of the lunch – it was still awesome.
As anxious as a person as I can be, you’d think that having my iPhone X (yes, the way-too-expensive one) stolen would have put me into a panic. However, it didn’t. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders that I didn’t even know existed.
Suddenly, there was no more obligation to the work emails being sent to me on vacation or the drama being texted to me all day long. It was all erased. I didn’t feel the need to take a picture of everything I did for Instagram, and when we waited in line for something, I didn’t bury my face in Twitter.
I observed my surroundings, and I took in Chicago for all it was worth.
There were strange moments, where I’d reach into my backpack for my phone and realize it was still gone. Rather than being sad over that, I felt more baffled at myself than anything else.
I certainly wasn’t one of the kids to be born with a phone in their hands, but as a blogger and writer, technology has been prevalent in my life for so long, I was dependent on it. Not having my phone made me think back to how I’d get things done without technology. I repeat – it made me think. When you have everything at your fingertips 24/7, there isn’t a need to really think about things and different ways to approach them.
As soon as the technology was eliminated from my life, I had to move gears in my brain that were long retired and rusted. It was refreshing to do so.
This doesn’t mean I’m now anti-technology. There are a lot of things in my life made better by technology, and I’m grateful to have access to it. However, it has put some perspective on what I use my phone for and how I plan to use it differently in the future.
I made a list – not only to keep myself accountable but also for anyone out there that wants to free up some time in their life. There can be a lot of freedom in observation, and when you have your nose in your phone all day, you aren’t seeing the world for what it really is; you’re seeing it for what others make it out to be.
1. Buy an alarm clock.
The number one thing I struggle with is falling asleep at night when I have my phone on and near me. I end up on YouTube or Facebook, watching videos and losing the time my body desperately need to recuperate from the day. When I didn’t have my phone, I would lay down and go to sleep – no ifs, ands or buts about it. So, I’m going the old-fashioned route of an alarm clock – because that was the only real reason I needed my phone on throughout the night.
I know for some people, specifically parents, this will be harder because the last thing you want is to turn your phone off and your kids are trying to get ahold of you. If this is the case, then instead of getting an alarm clock, simply plug your phone in for the night far out of your reach. I don’t know about you, but once I’m snuggled in for the night, there is no way I’m moving. Personally, I liked plugging my phone in over on my bathroom counter, because it’s inside my bedroom but a good distance from my bed. If there is an emergency, then your phone will still be awake to tell you. All you have to do is walk a couple of steps. This will eliminate the need to reach for your phone when you can’t sleep, but it will also keep you from missing anything emergency-wise.
2. Set yourself “Do Not Disturb” hours in the morning and afternoon.
One of the wisest productivity tips I wrote about for a top-notch CEO was to put all technology out of your mind for the first two to three hours of your morning, and instead use the time to eat, shower, workout, and make a to-do list – which if you need help being more productive, you can read this article. I loved not wasting time falling asleep at night on Facebook, but I also loved waking up without jumping straight into my stress zone of work-related emails and texts.
Without my phone, my mornings were mine, and that was something I hadn’t had in a very long time. So, when I got my new phone, I gave myself “Do Not Disturb” hours. This is easy to do in the settings of your iPhone. If you’re a non-iPhone user, then you’ll likely have to settle for putting your phone on silent and hiding it under your pillow. Do what you need to make it work for you – that’s all that matters.
I’m a huge culprit of sitting on Instagram and scrolling endlessly for hours on end. I follow several travel-related accounts, because I love to travel, and I can’t help but be mesmerized by the beautiful photography so many influencers posts. After losing my phone, I realized that there is a lot of the world to see beyond my phone, and I would never see it if I spent hours scrolling through travel bloggers’ posts on Insta and less time working to earn money for a trip.
That’s when I decided I needed to set myself social media maximums when I got my new phone. For each social account, I gave myself twenty minutes of free time and then all other time on my accounts should be related to my blog or brand – so, essentially, work. So, I can spend four hours on Instagram, but only if it’s related to building my brand. It takes a lot of self-restraint, to begin with, but over time, twenty minutes became enough for me to catch up on the accounts I love, get inspired, and work on my brand.
It’s amazing what can happen when you give yourself defined limits. It can be refreshing, in my opinion, to finally have control over the chaos my life and jobs can have. A big part of me wishes I’d practiced more defined control when I worked as a social media coordinator. I’m sure it would have made a huge difference in my work – beyond just being organized.
4. Get rid of the apps you don’t need & only have the apps you do need when you need them.
So, the idea behind this one may seem wonky, but it’s all about practicing self-restraint. Something I have found really great for keeping myself from aimlessly scrolling through social networks or playing games is to simply not have them accessible. If I know I only need, for example, Sendible to post to my business social accounts, then instead of having the Facebook, Twitter and Linked In apps on my iPhone, I ONLY have the Sendible app. It gets the job done without the distraction of the actual feeds.
Why do I do this? For the same reasons I’ve previously mentioned, the main one being I’m tired of missing out! Often, where I ran into trouble before was when I would be standing in line and, instead of interacting with people around me or being observative, I’d open the game I downloaded for the week. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good game, and from time to time, I’ll download my favorite one to play in the waiting room of my doctor’s office – but I don’t need it 24/7.
There are some apps that this won’t be something you’ll want to do, especially if you don’t have the information stored elsewhere. Keep in mind that a lot of apps delete their information when you delete them. If you have apps like those, I advise just making a folder for them on your phone, that way you know not to delete them. You’ve been warned!
Having my phone stolen sucked, but like most things, it happened for a reason. It opened my eyes to what I’d been missing out on, simply because I couldn’t pull my phone out everytime I got bored.
My trip to Chicago was a blast for many reasons, but a big highlight for me was this realization. I’m writing this post to help anyone else see what they could be missing. Again, I’m not anti-technology or saying you should do your life differently. I’m no life expert! But from this experience of having my phone stolen, I found a kind of peace in life that I hadn’t had in a long time. As an anxious person, I’m doing what I can to cling to that peace, and I’ve found the four things listed above to be monumental in my day-to-day.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post! If you did, be sure to give it a share. Also, let me know in the comments if you struggle with – for lack of a better term – a bit of ‘phone addiction’ and what you’re doing to combat it. I’d love to know.