I’ve finished the first of my 30 day challenges, so here’s the summary of how it went. For this challenge I decided to avoid using my phone while I was at home. I wanted to do this because I found myself using my phone to fill time at home that I really would have been better off doing something else with. Using my phone was a way to avoid doing not just things that I needed to do but also things that I wanted to do but that were more effort than just swiping through things on my phone. It also gave me an excuse to be less present and aware of time with my family. So how’d it go?
Whenever I would come home, one of the first things I would do would be to go plug my phone in and leave it on the nightstand. I found this made it easier to keep from thinking about it or from accidentally slipping into habits. For a while if I left my phone in my pocket I would find myself reflexively pulling it out as I went through my routine only to catch myself and put it back right away. After a couple weeks of leaving it on the nightstand I was able to start carrying it around again without having this problem.
I think that I did a good job sticking to the spirit of the challenge and the goals that I had for it, but I did learn just how hard it is to completely disengage from that device. I hadn’t really considered that since I use Google Authenticator for 2 factor auth there were going to be cases where I really had to use my phone to log in to something. I also didn’t want to give up tracking my weight with a bluetooth scale that relied on an app on my phone. So there were still some limited cases where I allowed myself some brief usage. However, I completely avoided using Twitter, checking mail, reading news, etc on my phone.
One of the things that I immediately noticed was how quickly I started doing things that I’d been thinking about using other challenges to motivate myself to do. I read more (physical books no less!), worked on personal projects, and got more done around the house. Those just felt like the natural things to do when I didn’t have the easy default option for passing the time that I’d come to rely on. Sure, I also watched more shows and spent more time on my computer but for the most part I think the time that I got back was well used.
I hadn’t thought about this part of it at all, but I was able to get more sleep this month than I normally would have. Previously when I would look at my phone in bed I would often intend to do for just a few minutes but that could easily turn into 20 or 30. So despite having fairly consistent times to get to bed, the actual amount of sleep I had been getting varied greatly. Without that extra time and distraction I found that I slept longer and better.
I hate to admit it, but I had been doing a pretty bad job about using the phone during times that I should have been present and paying attention to my family. During our bedtime routine with the kids I would often let myself get absorbed in the phone as I waited for them to brush their teeth or get pajamas on. Without the phone these times I was able to use these times to connect and I could tell that it made a difference. This is definitely one of the areas where I think this was the most beneficial.
This challenge was much easier than I’d anticipated it would be, and the results were quite positive. True, there were definitely some inconveniences. My calorie tracking got less accurate and I often had to set reminders for myself to do something when I could get to my computer instead of doing it right away on the phone. So will I keep doing this now that the challenge is over? I think that I’m going to make a permanent change to avoid doing anything that takes more than a minute or so when there are people around that I need to focus on instead. During the rare times that I find myself at home alone, I think I’ll probably go back to doing reading or other tasks on my phone. To sum up, I’m pleasantly surprised with the effectiveness of this first challenge and I’m looking forward to more.