Now’s the time for making resolutions – to challenge ourselves to start fresh or to gain a new perspective. For me, that looks like trying to change what I eat and develop new Spiritual disciplines, going to bed earlier and waking up earlier, and getting ahead of housework so that I don’t drown in laundry. Some of those things will fall away, hopefully some of them will become new daily habits.
But one habit I’m trying to break is how much time I spend on my phone.
Have you ever decided to go to bed, but wanted to check Facebook one last time before your head hit the pillow. When you finally plug the phone in to charge for the night, you discover it’s an hour later, you’ve found out way too much about people you barely know, read several articles that didn’t really make you feel any better about yourself, and even become anxious about things that didn’t even matter to you when you started your scroll.
This had become my nightly routine. I’d fall into bed around 11:00, completely exhausted, spend an hour scrolling and then another hour thinking about what I had just read.
Whether I want to admit it or not, I (like most of the young adults in our country) am addicted to my phone. I sit down for just a moment of “me time” to find myself ignoring my kids, my husband, and my responsibilities. My husband will come home to a brand new mountain of worries, to which he usually responds “Have you been reading articles from Facebook again?”.
And it’s true.
Friends with good intentions will warn me and their entire friend list about the dangers of toxins in everything we own, dressers falling on kids, dry drowning, swallowing batteries, wearing winter coats in car seats, and so much more.
But I refuse to let this be my reality.
I can be more disciplined. I can choose to take back my time. I can choose honor the people I am with, rather than the people on a screen.
In a quest for simplicity, I am choosing to be more intentional about the time I spend on my phone. If you set that resolution, as well, I thought I’d share a few incredibly practical mini-tips I’ve found helpful in the past.
How to Break Up with Your Phone: Make it Useless!
The first step to breaking this addiction is to turn our phones into flip phones. No, I don’t mean go out and purchase an ancient phone (although that’s an option, as well!), but we can make it much harder to get to addicting apps and websites.
Create a Minimal Homescreen
Move only the essential apps to the front page of your phone (as in, calendar, contacts, Bible, To-Do List). Anything distracting, time-sucking, or unneeded moves to a separate page.
Turn off all notifications.
Those dings and little red buttons trigger an alert in our brains that we need to check our phone. Though it rarely matters (I didn’t really need to know that some random acquaintance commented on a stranger’s post), I go ahead and check Instagram since I’m already on my phone and 30 minutes is gone.
Delete social media.
Social media is my job, but I took the first step to delete Facebook from my ‘favorites’ list on Safari. When that didn’t work, I actually blocked the website from my phone. Now I can only access it when I’m on my computer, meaning no more mindless scrolling.
Make your phone black and white.
This might sound extreme, but did you know that major corporations have entire departments dedicated to finding out which colors will catch your eye? For example, they know that red is an exciting, attention grabbing, appetite stimulating color. Just look and see how many of your app icons are red.
Turning your phone black and white won’t completely eliminate the temptation, but it will be far less enticing to scroll through Instagram or Snapchat in black and white. Here’s how to do it.
More than any of these tips to make your smartphone dull, we have to set some boundaries. I try really hard not to look at my phone when we have people over, at family dinner time, or on date nights (not even to “look something up”).
One of my friends has a basket right inside her doorway. Their whole family drops off their phones in the basket on the way in the door. Maybe you don’t check your phone first thing in the morning, or turn it off at 8:00pm each night.
Boundaries look different for everyone, but they are important to set.
Embrace the Joy of Missing Out
Finally, we can embrace the joy of missing out – the joy of being present and experiencing life instead of living life through a screen. We can free up space in our brains to think, wonder, and dream. We can embrace boredom and see how it reawakens our curiosity and creativity.
Here’s to a year of breaking habits, missing out, and embracing simplicity!