The other day I left my phone at home. I was about 10 minutes from my front door when I realised. I could have gone home to get it. My first reaction was to do exactly that. And then I thought, what if I don’t? What if I spend today without my phone? Here’s what I learnt…
I Look at My Phone Too Much
Multiple times during the day, often in the middle of a piece of work, I’d feel the need to check my phone. Sometimes I had a conscious thought ‘I haven’t checked my phone in a while’ but other times I’d just reach for it. Without even really thinking about it my hands would be patting my pockets and my eyes combing my desk for that connection to the wider world.
According to this article in The Telegraph, reporting on the “decade of the smartphone”, the average person in the UK spends over one day a week on their phone. This means that in a week we’re spending at least, if not more, 24 hours on our phone. Another report in the same article suggests that 40% of adults look at their phone within 5 minutes of waking up – guilty as charged!
Another thing I realised, or rather, confirmed is that I can be impatient. Any spare time I had, I was reaching for my phone. At the bus stop, on the train, waiting for the kettle to boil, my default would be my phone. In stolen moments during the day I use it for checking emails, reading a book, or interacting on social media. Being unable to do so annoyed me and made me feel like it was ‘wasted’ time even though I was doing something!
This made me realise my inability to be in the moment. I always need to be doing something; I can’t simply wait for a bus. It must be waiting for a bus and on Twitter, and educating myself on a podcast and catching up with a friend. Put simply, I need to slow down. Whilst multitasking and using every moment in my day can help me get through that to-do list, I also question it’s impact on my mental health. No wonder there are some days I feel completely run into the ground.
The Silver Lining
Having said all of the above, it was oddly liberating to not have my phone on me. I liked flying under the radar slightly. It felt good not to be at the other end of the phone every second of the day. I liked actually being in the moment and challenging myself to do so. Not having my phone reminded me that it’s ok not to be instantly available. It reminded me to take a breath, to pause during my day. That it is ok to not always be doing something. After all, not doing something is an act within itself.
Read my thoughts on the impact of social media and phones on our mental health here
What are your thoughts on a phone free day? Would you be happy to do so intentionally?