I could use this introduction paragraph to give you a whole “we’re so plugged into technology that we don’t notice the beautiful world around us” speech, but I think that’s a waste of time because I’d be telling you something you already know. Just the fact that you decided to click on the link that brought you to this blog post already shows that you obviously feel a little overwhelmed and dependent on your phone, and are in need of some unplugging.
Now I’m no role model for unplugging – I’m still very much plugged in, but I’m working on it and have definitely seen some improvement since I made an intentional decision to decrease my attachment to technology, and more specifically, my phone. It’s essentially a tiny computer we carry with us everywhere, and houses a bunch of apps that are designed, literally designed, to get us hooked and using them as frequently and as much as possible. There’s no doubt that phones have certainly improved our lives in a lot of ways, but it’s important to know the difference between when we’re using our phones, and when they’re using us. So here are a few tips to help you out with unplugging from your phone and using it more intentionally.
1. Give your phone a home.
I find that for myself, and probably many others, their phone’s home is in their back pocket (or somewhere as easily accessible). But what if our phone had it’s own place, somewhere that wasn’t in arms reach? I heard about this idea of giving your phone a “home” from a Minimalists podcast and absolutely loved it! At work, this might mean tucking it away in your purse or desk drawer so it’s out of sight. At home, this might mean having a designated charging station in a faraway corner (not by your bed!) where it stays as long as you’re home too. If you need to use it, you walk over and use it, and then walk away to continue on with your life.
2. Give yourself designated social media time.
Just like you would if you were parenting a child, give yourself a designated time or amount of time where you can sit down and scroll your heart away on social media. Maybe it’s a half hour every evening, or if you’re like me, 10 minute segments every couple of hours. How structured or unstructured it is is up to you, but the point is this – make even your seemingly mindless scrolling an intentional activity, where you can do it, and then stop and move on. Unplugging isn’t about deprivation, it’s about conscious usage, which is exactly what this gives you.
3. Block off your time.
This advice works just as well for improving productivity. Similarly to assigning yourself permitted social media time, I find that when you block off certain time for a very specific task, it’s a lot easier to put away your phone and concentrate on that one task without distraction. Without deliberately setting the goal of accomplishing that task, and nothing else, you tend to slip off into Instagram or Facebook easily.
4. Use your senses to tune into the moment.
Sometimes, our phones are a way to escape the seemingly mundane or boring moments in life, like riding public transit or waiting in line. It becomes such a common source of stimulation that we might even forget what it’s like to not be plugged in for those moments, and all of the things we might be missing along the way. For me, I came to this realization when I started to eat meals without my phone. Of course when eating with friends or family my phone is tucked away, but when eating alone, it might seem like just another opportunity for social media scrolling. Next time you find yourself reaching for your phone to stimulate your brain, stop and tune into your senses. What do you see around you? What do you smell, or taste? What are all the little noises going on around you? What does your body feel – the ground under your feet, or the seat underneath you? You’ll be surprised by how often this form of listening and attention is really enough.