I broke my smartphone screen recently. Sadly, it was the second time in about 3 months. Both times my daughter was involved and this time for a variety of reasons, I haven’t got around to fixing it or replacing it yet.
In the meantime, I have been using a simple phone which “just” does calls and texts. You can imagine the euphoric first few days of being off the grid. I realised how great it was to not be constantly scrolling through my social media feeds and my son loved the opportunity to play snake! It was a like an enforced digital detox.
Indeed, I started to notice some positive behavioural changes which mirrored lots of the articles I had read previously, usually around New Year or times when people feel overwhelmed by the constant need to be connected. A recent article in the Guardian talked about the group of Silicone Valley tech experts who are also starting to switch off, due to concerns of addiction and lack of focus that social media can bring.
Positive changes brought about by lack of access to my beloved smartphone
I make more calls. Going back to a t9 keyboard has meant that it takes quite a while to send a text. It has been nice to speak to people for a change. I have a proper conversation with that person rather than to-ing and fro-ing with instant messenger. I also find that I need to make a conscious decision to get in touch with a person and find out how they are doing, rather than surfing around seeing what people are up to.
I’m more productive. I have shared posts about this before but it really does ring true, I only have access to email near my laptop so am more focused on the task in hand.
I realised that at heart I do love my tech, I mean really, really love it. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, after working for BlackBerry for over 10 years. I need to learn to manage the amount of time I spend engaging with it. It feels like losing a part of my brain. My smartphone has been used to record so much information and to plan out work, personal and family life.
The productivity tools have been particularly noticeable in their absence, especially my calendar & colour-note app.
I admit, I am even feeling the loss of Instagram. I love the camaraderie, the giggles and generally the inspiring and creative posts that people put on there. I also use my smartphone as a camera and take daily pictures, whether it be of the kids, plants or nice seasonal scenes. We moved house recently for the first time in ten years. It was pretty momentous and yet we don’t have any snaps from the day or images of the new house as yet.
Digital Detox – it doesn’t need to be all or nothing
Update May 2019: I published this blog post a while back. On reflection the learnings are the same, and I notice that I very easily fall back into the trap of spending a significant amount of time on my smartphone. I now have a few things I do to try and reduce its impact.
- When its holiday time, I do try to switch to aeroplane mode and only use the phone for satnav or finding places to visit. I find if I announce that I am not going to be available its like there is a witness to stop me posting.
- I try to be more intentional about my social media usage through the week, as much for productivity as to de-tox.
- No screens in the bedroom apart from a Kindle for my beloved books. This definitely helps with detoxing and not having a racing brain both when going to bed and waking up.
What about you? Do you think you would miss your smartphone if you were without it? Does it rule your life or help you manage tasks more efficiently? I’d love to hear tips on balancing its value and the addictive nature of being always-on.