Firstly, massive apologies for lack of blog post over the last few weeks. Work has been particularly busy and like….BLOGGERS BLOCK big time! So I’ve been putting off writing this up because I just couldn’t get in to any kind of flow, and now I’ve decided to just bash this out as quickly as I can and get it out of the way, so it’s probably not going to win any prizes for insightful literary genius. Soz.
Anyway, grovelling out of the way…Shall I fill you in on my little experiment then?!
If you haven’t already, you need to go and read my previous blog post Anti-social media: Part 1 first.
If you have read it, you may even want to go back and re-read it anyway given that I posted it about 7,892 weeks ago so you probably can’t even remember what I was wanging on about in the first place (just checked, it was only 2.5 weeks ago….no YOU’RE a drama queen).
Read it? Good. Here we go.
Day 1- Thursday
So Day 1 started off well.
I’m lucky in that I have a FitBit (sorry guys I know I haven’t mentioned it AT ALL since I got it, and so this may come as shock ) and it has a silent alarm setting (it vibrates on my arm to wake me up….sexy) which meant I could keep my phone out of my bedroom but still use it to set off my vibrating wrist alarm. What a time to be alive!!
I get straight up and straight in to the shower- quickest start to a day EVER !!
I’m staying at my Brother and Sister-in-Laws’ house for 2 weeks whilst they are on holiday and so I go down and feed the cats, make a cuppa and eat my cereal before quickly checking my phone.
I actually got ready 20 minutes earlier than I usually would have and made it in to work at 7:40am- WOW.
I had a very busy morning of meetings and so I couldn’t check my phone if I wanted to!
At lunch time, I check my phone and I have a few messages.
One of them is from one my besties, Hannah Rix, who is, precisely 4 hours following my experiment starting, concerned that I am ‘off the grid’ which is absolute testament to my point re: the extent of my phone addiction, in that by midday she usually would have probably heard off me at least 50 times.
The afternoon was more of a challenge as I had no meetings and lots of work to get on with which as we all know usually means one thing PROCRASTINATION! Kindly facilitated by my lovely phone.
I must say, I did cave in at around 2pm and check social media quickly .But still, better than my usual practice of leaving my phone on the desk to distract me so I try not to beat myself up too much.
For the rest of the day I only used my phone to answer a call from my Mam and my brother and to text a friend for arrangements to meet up which fall in to my category of only using phone when I need to.
My social media hour was between 7pm and 8pm- I posted my blog and text a few friends.
My mother text me to say she enjoyed my blog but was concerned- what if she needed me urgently? Could she ring me?
I reassured her that I’d still take phone calls, just not read messages or scroll mindlessly on media- this placated her.
As 8pm and my self imposed ban came around, I actually felt anxious. I put my phone downstairs and let the cats outisde.
Now, my brother and sister in law only let the cats in the garden under supervision…(I know … Tell them will you?!)
Anyway, I watch them in the garden and they were being adorable- bouncing around, jumping about 8 feet in the air, trying to catch flies. I miss my phone already- I’m dying to take a snapchat or take a video and put it on Facebook and tag Sam and Becky in it.
After the initial frustration I took the opportunity to just stop and watch them. And it was nice to actually take 2 minutes and enjoy them playing in real life and not through a lens.
It then rained and I spent 20 minutes chasing them around the garden trying to get them in. MEGA LOL. Again I had a pang of “HOW FUNNY WOULD THIS BE ON INSTA?!”
Cold and wet and laughing my head off I cook a pizza and pour a glass of wine that they have kindly bought me (my brother and sis in law that is…not the cats..LOL).
I wish that I could take a pic and instagram it and tell them how kind they are.
And it hits me already, on Day 1, how much of my life I see as a social media opportunity. Did I want to take that picture to thank them or to validate my night in on social media/make a little brag about my lush family?
I decide I will thank them with a card rather than a Facebook shout out.
I settle down with a book and my glass of wine until 9:30pm. It’s lovely and relaxing, but I must admit I feel anxious. What am I missing out on? It takes a lot of will power to not check it.
I give my phone a final glance for anything urgent and set my alarm for tomorrow.
Days 2 and 3- Friday and Saturday
Ok, so I was so busy in work and outside work that I didn’t really get chance to look at my phone. I sang at a wedding on the Saturday afternoon which meant I had rehearsals in the church straight from work on Friday and then the wedding Saturday followed by a friend’s hen do.
Again, I notice I’m out of the house in the mornings so much quicker due to lack of mindless scrolling.
I only check my phone when I need to, to make arrangements.
I feel so much more productive.
Day 4- Sunday
I wake up hungover in my friend Raechel Mattey’s house.Standard.
Now usually, no matter how tired I am or how much my head is pounding, I wake up on a Sunday and scroll mindlessly through my newsfeed. Through squinted eyes. I can waste hours.
I resist the urge to pick up my phone and try to go back to sleep for another hour or 2. And I do! I feel like my lack of phone is enabling me to switch off more quickly. And I’m surprised at how quickly I get used to not using my phone and how it gets easier as the days go on.
I get back to my brothers’ house to get ready to take my dad out for Father’s Day.
I allow myself a quick look at social media and notice that everyone is posting the standard Father’s Day montages. And I do love a montage mind!!
I agonise over whether to post one of my Dad or not. Do I really need to post a public declaration of love to my father who is not even on Facebook so won’t even see it? When I will see him in person in less than an hour and give him a real life card and express real sentiment, like, to his face?
In the end, I decide to post one, I can’t resist.
A montage ban is just a step too far at this point.
Days 5, 6, 7, 8 ( MY BOOT-SCOOTING….nope not funny. Retract).
This week, Monday – Thursday, I am, again, super busy in and outside of work.
When I get in each night, I cook my tea and I sit and I read. I always say I don’t have time to read as much as I’d like to. This phone ban is making me realise how much time I spend scrolling on my phone when I could be doing other things.
I read a book and a half in 5 days!!
I feel liberated.I feel less anxious. I feel more relaxed. I don’t have the fear of missing out that I thought I would. I am dropping off to sleep more quickly. I am present and in the moment and enjoying the little things.
My friends appear to be more put out by my lack of phone than I am, with some of them labelling messages as ‘urgent…must read’ to get a response, and when I reply, ask me what I am doing for tea that night (Hannah Rix, I’m looking at you!)
I’m doing so well…I’ve nailed it.
And then….THE REFERENDUM.
It was impossible not to get caught up in it….for anyone, but especially for social media addicts of which I am a self confessed one!
I posted, I tweeted, I discussed with my friends on what’sapp. I was stuck to my phone watching it all unravel, particularly on that Thursday.
And I found it impossibly difficult to get back in to my self-imposed phone ban! I told myself it was ok to have 1 day off, given the magnitude of the occasion. I tried in the days that followed to get back to complying with my rules, but it was really difficult to get back in to my focussed mentality.
I’m not saying that my ‘good work’ in the week prior was undone….it had done me the world of good. But I’d been ‘clean’ for a week and one ‘binge’, one ‘hit’ , had tipped me back over the edge from practically not using my phone at all to being obsessed again. No in between. No middle ground. I find it so frustrating but I can’t help myself.
Bad habits are hard to break.
There is no doubt about it, for many of us, phones are an actual addiction. And following my little experiment, I don’t think addiction is a strong word at all.
For many of us, reducing our phone usage is so challenging..and cold turkey…impossible! It requires so much willpower. And in that sense, I think we shouldn’t expect to be able to give it up so easy. It has to be a process. A lifestyle change.
I think it’s important to note that the week that I have documented above was unusually busy for me in terms of not having the time in between meetings or tasks that I would usually have to check my phone (did I mention at all I was busy?! LOL…soz).
I’ve kept to my rules of not sleeping in the same room as my phone when I can (or certainly not having my phone under my pillow) and not checking my phone first or last thing and I’ve found they have really helped me switch off.
Following my one ‘good week’, I found it hard to maintain the strict social media time allowance and checking of the phone.
During that ‘good week’ I really did feel liberated and more productive. I was amazed at the time I gained for myself to do the things I like to do, that usually would be taken up on the phone. The longer I went without my phone, the easier it became, although at times it did take a lot of willpower.
I plan to try these rules out again this week, where I have a more typical week in terms of work and social commitments. I think the important thing is to recognise it’s an issue that you want to address and to not beat yourself up for deviations… just trying, and thinking twice about our habits and behaviours…thinking before we pick up our phone or post that tweet, I think, is a good enough start.
So there we have it!!
Did anyone else try the rules out? I’d be SO interested in how you did?