What I Learnt From My Phone Free Day

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!

Wasting Time

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?

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21 thoughts on “What I Learnt From My Phone Free Day

  1. This is so interesting! I wonder what it would be like if Londoner’s took this challenge and if we would be all speaking to each other at bus stops and on public transport ?…likely talking about the weather!

  2. Hi Emma, your post is fascinating! I think we’re the opposite. I can easily live without my phone, lol. I look at my laptop too much though, which is no better. I often go for walks or to the beach with our dog but without my phone.

    1. I’m determined to start going for walks in our local park without my phone! Some mornings when my phone has been off overnight I’ll try not to turn it on until after lunch!

  3. I’m guilty of doing the exact same thing! I started making lists of things I can be doing that don’t involve my phone last August, and it’s working well so far… most of the time. Haha

  4. It’s amazing what we can learn by taking a step back from something like our phones. They can certainly be addictive pieces of technology but they also have benefits. Finding the right balance when using them is key. I lost my phone the other day, and while I freaked out (because we don’t have a landline so it’s my only way to contact people outside of the internet) it was also nice not to be tethered to it. I was grateful when I found it though.

  5. I loved this. I am on my phone all the time. Like you I can’t seem to have the patience to do nothing with time spent waiting. I have found that it is good for me to take long walks in nature because it helps with the restless feelings and even though I feel productive there is so much to take in and enjoy around me.

  6. I am very guilty of the same thing – always reaching for my phone. And although I don’t do it intentionally, there is always a feeling of some kind of freedom when I leave my phone home. It is very nice to not feel the need to be available!
    So will you choose to leave your phone more?
    Thanks for the post!

    1. Not sure I’ll intentionally leave my phone at home…just in case someone needs to get in contact.
      But when I’m home or with people I try to turn off my phone and leave it off. Just helps me stay in the moment and when I see it’s off I’m less likely to turn it back on!

  7. I can totally see how that would feel liberating! I always wish I could leave mine at home but I worry too much about needing it for emergencies etc. I usually try to keep in in my bag or away from me so I don’t reach for it as often.

    1. Agreed. There’s also apps which can ‘timeout’ your phone for a set period of time. Some of them I heard of even give money to charity if you dont’ touch your phone for x amount of time, unless it’s an emergency. It’s definitely a good incentive 🙂

  8. This is so great! It would be hard for me, but sometimes it’s so good to just unplug and reconnect with the world around you. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Liberating is a good word for how it feels to disconnect. I check my phone too often and love taking the occasional break from it. Should probably try to do that more often.

  10. You described me in this post. I am unable to be present in the moment without reaching for my phone. I used to love to read books, now I’m constantly checking all social media sites endlessly scrolling, watching videos and reading different blogs.

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