Ugh! This is at the very top of my mind lately. Having a smartphone can be a blessing and a curse. I recently went through an iPhone-related-crisis right around the same time that Maxie was too. We both were talking to each other about it and trying to find a good solution. Her tips today are definitely something we should all take note of.
6 Ways to Untether from Devices
Guest Post by Maxie McCoy
Have you ever been so sick of your phone or your computer or the internet that you considered going off the grid completely? I have.
Last month, I even went so far as calling my phone provider in total frustration to see if there were any options that would allow me to keep my plan while also having a less high-tech phone… preferably one that only sent calls and texts. Craig, my lovely customer service representative, listened intently as I rambled through questions:
“Is there any way to have an iPhone when I want it, but maybe to switch my SIM card to a dumb phone when I want that instead? Or is there any way to have both a smartphone and a dumb phone with the same number and plan?” I pleaded.
Not understanding my problem, Craig responded back, “Ma’am, I’m not sure I understand the point of these questions? Is your goal here to save money?”
To which I responded, “No Craig, my goal here is to save my soul.”
Which was true. I’d had too many consecutive hours on my phone and with my computer and on my tablet that I literally wanted to throw them all out the freaking window. I dreamt of going off the grid into no-woman’s land where no one could like my photos, no one could email me, and I didn’t have to respond to a single text message or email ever again. I texted Carly in total despair because I actually considered that all of these devices might be sucking both my soul and my mind. I knew she understood, and that she’d been there, and that’d she’d talk me off my “I hate all digital devices” ledge. What sticks with me from her response even today, weeks later, is that those devices I was loathing are what afford me the work lifestyle I have (i.e. a remote office).
So typing away from a house in the mountains where I haven’t been on social in four days, here are the boundaries I’ve created that have both helped me get control back over my digital devices and given me space to reconnect with myself instead of the internet:
Turn off notifications
My phone is pretty much always on do not disturb mode. Which means I only hear texts when the phone is open or when I look for them. Years ago I took all the notifications off my phone and got into the habit of keeping it on do not disturb. It was the first step I ever took to untether myself from all the incoming interruptions and goodness did it make a difference. However, I then had to learn how to keep myself from obsessively checking everything else…
Keep it in the other room
When a phone or computer is around, we typically check it. Refresh, reload, a little scroll here a little scroll there. What I’ve learned from having to focus intently, especially when writing my book, is that I must keep my phone away from me when I’m trying to get important things done. So if there’s a post I’m writing, a proposal I’m creating, or just a good book I’m immersed in, I keep my phone a room away.
Favorite humans take precedent
Our relationships are some of the best gifts in our lives. But how annoying is it when those people you’re with are always checking their phones or smart watches? The worst. Whenever I’m with the people I love, I keep my devices in my bag and off the table. Do you have to check it sometimes? Sure. But I learned the best way to do this from Carly (because she is always the best about not having her phone on the table when we’re catching up) is to say “Sorry I just need to check this because X, Y or Z” that way the person understands why you’re averting your attention and that you’re respectful of their time and presence.
Don’t make it the first or last thing you look at
When you look at a screen right when you wake up or right when you go to sleep, you train your mind that it’s normal, expected, and important to do so. None of which is true. So I’ve started making sure I put away my phone before I read at night or before I do my gratitude journaling, and that I don’t check my computer or emails until I’ve had time to step into my day.
Set “office hours” phone time
When I was freaking out about hating the phone and the internet and social media, Carly talked me off my ledge by saying I just needed to create boundaries. While I haven’t done this 100% successfully, I have become much more aware of how I can create intentional blocks of time that either involve my devices or don’t.
Create longer social breaks:
Digital detoxes aren’t a one-stop shop for breaking our digital addictions. However, what I can say from some days without unconsciously scrolling through who viewed my Instagrams stories and who liked my tweets, is that it’s so nice to take a break. It helps reconnect with the one voice and feeling and message that really matters: our own.
If you’re feeling overloaded by the bombardment of messages and information and pulls on your time because of your devices, you’re not alone. Pay attention to that feeling and before you’re so desperate that you call your data provider looking for a way out, try one of these easy ways to get control back over your time and energy.