It’s been nearly four weeks since I wrote Digital Device Time Off, a post that described how one individual readjusted his extreme mobile phone habits, aiming to become less addicted to using his phone to fill every moment of the day.
After writing the post, I decided to keep track of my phone use, and lo and behold, I discovered that I have some of the same tendencies. So, I made a resolution to cut back a bit.
I decided to start with Facebook. I found that I opened Facebook many times each day, mostly because I received a notification or discovered something interesting to share with friends. But I also decided to start with Facebook because the company’s myriad privacy and data collecting problems sometimes make me want to completely wean myself off.
I decided to try checking Facebook twice a day, once in the morning and again in the late afternoon or evening. This was harder than I expected because I found that even glancing down at my mobile caused my brain to cue me to open Facebook. If I had something to share I was also cued to open Facebook, so I need a plan to reassure myself that I will be able to share the next time I check in.
Solitaire I chose because I discovered how, when I sit with not much to do, I tend to open the playing cards app. For me, this required a different readjustment. I found that the cue was a few minutes of downtime — waiting for someone or for some event, sitting in a doctor’s office, or even between dinner prep tasks. My brain cue seemed to be asking, “Oh you have a few minutes so how about a game of Solitaire?” These tiny bits of time occur regularly throughout the day, so I was playing quite a few card games.
How am I doing with my readjustment? Better, I think, and almost four weeks later I am almost to the point of not thinking about Facebook when I pick up my phone. I’ve also decided to try and play Solitaire only when I plan ahead and not just spontaneously when I need to fill up time. As for other activities, I find I am practicing piano more than in the recent past, and I’ve read several more book than usual which required an additional trip to the public library.
Twenty-first Century digital habits can be challenging to change, because so much digital activity sits in the palm of our hands. We’ll see how long my experiment lasts, but bottom line — I feel more relaxed and not nearly as tense throughout the day. I also feel like I am taking constructive steps on a path that leads to digital wellness.
Have any of you tried to readjust your mobile phone habits?