Daily Blog #370: Abbi’s experiment in putting the phone down.

Greetings and Salutations, Blog Readers!

Today we are talking about something I have been working on for the past few months. Hold onto your hats, this elder millennial is talking about putting the phone down.

A few months ago, I decided to start working on not being on my phone before bed, and to try to not be on it as much in the morning as well. I also decided to start disconnecting from my phone, not insisting on always having it in my hand, to see how much I could learn about myself from doing this.

My “screen time” on my iPhone was showing me on my phone for upwards of 9 hours a day, and that is NOT healthy or productive, so, I knew I had to do something. Some people in my life were likely bothered by this, especially the ones who are in another state, like Kim or Lenyn, but I knew I had to take it seriously because I was not loving my life when I was constantly feeling attached to my phone. I would have anxiety around making sure I returned messages, making sure I didn’t even allow myself to fall asleep without answering messages from people.

Which really means, as my therapist pointed out, that I was putting others ahead of my own basic needs, like sleep or recharging time.

This isn’t healthy, productive, or, in line with the person I want to be, so something had to change.

So, I started with trying to not be on my phone before bed. About thirty minutes before bed, I check all my messages, tell everyone good night, check my alarms, and try to not be on my phone. I am hardly perfect at this, but I have been getting BETTER, so instead of scrolling, I am at most checking an alert, normally from twitch or one of my late-night streaming friends or using my phone to turn on/adjust the lights.

All in all, it’s an improvement. But I needed more. So, instead of moving my phone charger to an outlet close to me, so I could be on my phone while it charged, I started to leave my phone alone while it charged. When hanging out with friends I would try to limit how much I was on my phone, letting my phone be more of a camera than a communications device.

While I would use it to take pictures, I would instead spend my actual engaging time with my surroundings. I know this sounds like something that should be standard, and it probably should be, but for plenty of people, it isn’t. Heck, you may think you spend most of your time engaged, but when you look at your screen time, you will realize maybe you were on your phone more than you thought you were.

So then, after these steps, I began just keeping my phone in my pocket or purse at times, or having it on the table, but face down, silenced, so I would only grab it for- you guessed it- pictures or snapchat posts. (Snapchat is the one social media I updated with regularity, if you want to see my daily goings on- catch me there- @abbigrasso)- I use snapchat because the notifications from that come from people trying to genuinely engage, not just meaninglessly comment, and it allows me to post my life in real time, without taking up too much of said real time.

Then, this past week, I began doing something else to serve my goals of disconnecting from my phone, and it seems to be the missing link in my needs.

A Snap of a screenshot in which i explain my new love of focus mode to anyone who follows me on Snapchat.

I started using “focus” “do not disturb” mode on my phone- which stops my phone from sending me push notifications from various apps like twitter, Pinterest, Instagram etc, and also leaves a “I am in focus mode” message on my text messages. My only wish is that it also left a message for people on snapchat, but I think I may start posting screenshot when I go into this mode, so people know.

Not that they need to, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint, to fully disconnect, more so when some people who I am so close with, I only talk to via the tiny computer in my pocket, people like Lenyn or Kim who live far away, people like Matt who I only see on the weekends, people like my entire family since no one lives near me…I need to have a way to use my phone, but also make sure my phone isn’t using me, as it were. I want to make sure I am making time and space for myself.

And focus mode has really helped with this goal, and it has helped me stay on task, and allowed me to get more done during the day. The first day I did it, I knew I was a changed woman, and suddenly understood why my friends like Amber, an extremely high performing woman, used it.

It helps us stay focused on what we want to stay focused on, and it makes reaching for our phone a CHOICE we are making, versus a habit or reaction to a notification. This also goes hand in hand with what I learned by reading Atomic Habits. You can check out my review of that book, and you definitely should, and go ahead and read it if you also want to make better habits and get rid of your bad ones.

So that is where I am at in my journey to putting the phone down. I am sleeping better, and I have more time for the things I actually want to do. Sure, I am not mindlessly scrolling on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, etc, but that isn’t a bad thing.

I am thriving more, sleeping better, and having more time for the things I want to do, like writing blogs or working on Flake City Volume Two (coming soon).

So, consider trying it out, start by not being on your phone before bed, or try out your phone’s “Do Not Disturb/Focus” mode. See what happens.

Thanks for Reading,

Abbi

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