If you’ve always been on Team “New Year’s Resolutions Suck,” or if this is your first year banning the three word phrase from your vocabulary, welcome to the club! I have been one of the most active dissenters of New Year’s Resolutions. Why? Because, statistically speaking, no one ever keeps them. Everyone hits the gym on January 1. If you make it to February, well you should consider yourself among the few. March? Forget about it. Look, I’m not saying it’s impossible to keep a resolution. It’s just statistically improbable. Not to mention that everyone does the same old resolutions year after year after year: lose weight, eat healthier, save more money. It’s all so mundane.
But alas, this year, I have to leave my longtime team behind. I am on a mission to break up with my phone. I don’t mean ghost it completely; I just need to form healthier habits. If I’m not careful, an entire day can slip away into the tiny screen in my hand, mindlessly scrolling and reading and liking and pinning and commenting. Those little dopamine receptors keep me coming back for more and more and more. I can’t even watch my favorite TV shows without glancing at my phone. Ignoring one screen to interact with another? That’s next level addiction right there.
It’s bad for me. It’s bad for my family. And it’s probably bad for all my social media friends who are also interacting with me through this screen of blue light (or yellow in my case). Yep, that’s right. I spent so much time on my phone, I decided to permanently use the yellow light filter to help save my eyes.
If you’re like me, or if you ever wonder to yourself if you spend too much time attached to your phone, you may be trying to figure out how to detach. There are so many reason NOT to, after all. Friends and family from far away become so easily accessible. Your phone carries your camera, your alarm clock, your reminders, your calendar, your fitness trackers, and more. As a full time remote employee and the owner of a start up small business, my phone carries even more “essentials.” Essentials in quotes because I have created an illusion for myself that my phone makes me more productive, when in fact, it makes me less productive.
I set little reminders to do the chores; I play around on productivity apps that way over complicate even the most simple of tasks; I take notes that I will never return to; I make To Do lists that I will never check off. Then I feel good for having been productive when in reality, I haven’t done a thing. I have simply told myself to do those things, while simultaneously not doing them. Y’all, I have actual reminders on my calendar to give my kids baths on alternating days. Do I do it? Nope. Why? Because I’m too busy staring down into a portal of likes and shares.
Sure, I do spend a lot of my online time reading articles and news stories, but even that doesn’t feel entirely productive. While I am being an informed and active citizen by reading these articles, I find that more often than not I end up on think pieces and op-eds instead of actual news stories. These pieces are designed to evoke emotions from you, and I find that I am not any happier or any more aware for having read them.
My son will actually say to me, “Mommy, put your phone down.” And I will do it, because he asked. But it won’t be long before I return to mindless scrolling. One little notification ding, or even a text message, can suck me right back in.
I’ve had this idea of breaking up with my phone in my head for a while, tossing it around like a good idea that I just hadn’t pegged down yet. Then I was watching Good Morning America and I saw Catherine Price’s book, How to Break Up With Your Phone. What a phenomenon! I don’t have to figure it out for myself anymore! Good Morning America and Catherine Price created a free seven day mini version of the challenge, and I invite you to embark on this journey with me. You can sign up on for the 7 day challenge here.
It starts with changing your lock screen to a prompt that reminds you to ask yourself, “Why?” Why am I picking up my phone right now? What am I supposed to be doing right now? Is this really what I want to do with my time? Could it be better spent playing with my boys in the floor? Cooking dinner? Doing laundry? Vacuuming? Lord knows I haven’t done that in a while. The answer is almost always yes, absolutely yes — the time could be better spent.
I am on a mission to spend more time with my family, take better care of my home, and interact with people on a more meaningful level (I mean, face to face, y’all). No, I’m not going to ditch my calendar, and I certainly won’t drop the phone off a cliff. I’m not even going to ditch my social media accounts, which help my family members from far away feel close to me and my boys. But I am going to cuddle my boys closer, look them in the eyes more often, play the same silly games on repeat (moms of small kids know exactly what I’m talking about), and I’m not going to check my screen incessantly.