Sally Quadruple Dog Dared me to put my phone away for four days while on vacation.

Sally Quadruple Dog Dared me to put my phone away for four days while on vacation.
 
In a flash, I felt so many feelings! The strongest of which were FOMO, anxiety, excitement and relief. On a typical work day, I average 10 hours a day staring at screens.
 
I knew I had to do it.
 
However, since the invention of the smart phone, I have fully embraced the efficiency and practicality of having so much of the every day things I need and enjoy in one place. A complete phone detox would just be punishment with no Hamilton playing in the car or the ability to snap photos of my freakin’ adorable children!
 
I decided to think of Sally’s dare in a way that felt doable for me and landed on a “Virtual Communication Detox,” which didn’t feel like punishment and felt more like critical self-care.
 
Under these conditions, I CAN use the following apps on my phone at my leisure as I normally do:
  • Notepad for journaling and editing the grocery list
  • Alarm clock
  • Baby monitor
  • GPS
  • Calendar
  • My bank app
  • Weather
  • Food purchasing
  • Ride sharing
  • Fitness and meditation apps to stay on track with my positive health habits
  • Music
  • Podcasts
  • eBooks
  • Camera
*I mention this list because it was illuminating to me how much I use my phone for things outside of work that truly make my life easier.
 
The following are notes from my detox experience:
 
Day 1: Woke at 7am and first impulse was to grab my phone off my nightstand and start checking all of the usual things that I check (notifications, emails, texts, Facebook, insta). I caught myself before my hand actually picked up the phone and started laughing to myself. Nothing to see today!
 
Used notepad to finalize packing list. Drove to beach and used GPS.
 
I’m now 9.5 hours into my first day and I find it to be kind of insane how fast the impulse to pick up the phone dwindles once the brain has registered the fact that no communication is happening through that device. It quickly loses it’s power and hold over my thoughts.
 
Day 2: I spent maybe 10 minutes total on my phone today! I don’t think I’ve ever done that! Every now and then I felt the nagging urge to know what was happening on Facebook. Facebook is definitely my most significant time suck app. I’m also dreading what my emails will look like on Thursday morning. But maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised by how that plays out. I wonder if I’ll still subscribe to keeping up with the notifications (chipping away at incoming messages as they come in) vs taking care of all of it at once.
 
Day 3: I cheated today. We FaceTimed with both sets of grandparents for a bit (which is really fine) but I also texted with two people briefly and just generally found reasons to pick up my phone a lot more today. I am so tempted to check my emails… 😱
 
Day 4: Pretty much answered every text message that came through today but didn’t actively reach out to anyone or continue convos beyond their initial reason for reaching out.
 
Being 100% away from Facebook and emails has been glorious.
 
I’m coming to accept how setting timers will help me get more discipline around my screen time. I have a tendency to just sit on my phone and stare at it for various stupid reasons when I’m alone, bored or feeling anxious. Just holding it seems to help me feel distracted and temporarily dulls the more uncomfortable feeling. But that’s addiction, yo! And I’m better off purposefully putting the phone down in far away places for long stretches of time, then setting a timer to check up on things for 15 minutes. AND setting alarms for how long I’ll work for a stretch of time. I sometimes sit down for four hours straight without taking water or bathroom breaks. No one is forcing me to keep working but me!!! That’s insane!!!
 
Day 5 (Reflection): There was a certain sadness in knowing my detox from virtual communication was coming to an end. And a few fears confirmed when I saw exactly 200 emails in my inbox.
 
But guess what? It took me exactly 25 minutes to delete or skim all 200 of those emails and by the end of this morning I’ll have my inbox back to normal.
 
And did I miss anything on Facebook or Instagram? What do you think? NOPE! Took me exactly three minutes to sift through those notifications.
 
I learned a few things through this experience. First, I need to practice making myself less available to people on a regular basis. People who truly love and respect me will not mind if I don’t get back to them right away. I’m not letting anyone down by not responding to them immediately. I do let myself and my family down by being buried in technology for 10 hours a day. I may tell myself tales from time to time about my urgent to-do list but I know in my heart that nothing is so important that it can’t wait for quality time outside to nurture myself or precious time to connect with my children, my husband, family and friends.
 
This digital detox has also re-taught me the importance of setting boundaries for better health and wellness.
 
 
Try Megan’s Virtual Communication Detox!
 
Step 1: Post on social and send texts to let your people know you’re going off the grid! And let them know who to contact in case of emergency.
 
Step 2: Activate automatic reply message on work and personal email.
 
Step 3: Turn lap top off and put it away, out of sight.
 
Step 4: Turn off all notifications on phone.
 
Step 5: Move all apps you consider to be “time suck apps” to a totally different home screen page on your phone so you can’t see them during the detox period.
 
If you think a digital detox would be of benefit to you, give it a try and let us know how it goes! And many thanks to Sally for the nudge! I am so grateful I have a business partner who encourages me to put away my phone for four days. 
 
Thank you for reading!
 
~ Megan Ridge Morris, co-owner, ChildLight Education Company