It wasn’t until I realized just how much time I spent on my phone that I wanted to change how I used my phone. If it was going to be such a big part of my life, I better be getting a lot of benefit out of it.
Thanks to the new time tracking on phones, I know I spend at least 2-3 hours a day on my phone. That’s 14-21 hours a week.
I would kill to have time like that and yet somehow I manage to spend it all on my phone. I don’t even think I enjoy most of that time on my phone. Could I somehow make better use of my phone time?
Now, I didn’t want to remove phone time completely (I’m not crazy) but I wanted to change when and how I used my phone to get the most out of my day (and phone). And then, take some of that time and find better uses for it outside of my phone.
Here’s what happened:
A social media detox instantly increased my mood and life satisfaction
I firmly believe it is good to give up things once in a while to see what role it truly plays in your life. For instance, I know so many people, who only after making a change, realized how it affected them. The same goes for social media. We consume it like crazy on a day to day basis almost unconsciously. It is such habit to open apps and scroll to pass the time.
So, I took a week off of ALL social media. The first few days were hard because I didn’t know how to fill the time that I use to be on my phone. But then I realized how refreshing it was to not constantly be bombarded with what others are doing with their lives. I didn’t feel this need to compete and was therefore happier. I refocused on what I am doing with my life, with my day. I started to live back in the now.
After that week, I was sure I wanted to change the role my phone played in my life.
Unfollowing “fake” people removed my fear of missing out
I went through and cleaned up my Facebook and Instagram followers. These two platforms are very pictured based and tend to result in a lot of “glamorizing” of life. I felt like I was constantly missing out because it seemed everyone was enjoying life more than me. The reality is these pictures don’t tell the whole story. No one posts the mundane everyday aspects of life. In fact, you have no idea if they are actually having fun.
The biggest problem is while that photo was less than one second of their life (and it was probably staged), your mind just sees how much more fun they are having than you (sitting on your couch on your phone).
In addition to influencers who glamorize their lives, I decided I didn’t need to follow friends who used social media platforms for anything but to brag about their lives. I was wasting precious minutes every day on these people and it was affecting me negatively.
Started following people who added value to my life
Now that the fake was removed, I added in the real. I found blogs that I loved and signed up for their email list so I could hear from them. I wanted content from social media that would either
- help me be the person I wanted to be,
- give me ideas for improving different aspects of my life,
- teach me a new skill
- add entertainment to my life.
I ensured my Facebook and Instagram feed was full of people who I was actually friends with and wanted to stay in touch and hear from. I also found fun accounts that made cool art, showed me the world, gave helpful tips or showed inspiring quotes. I signed up for groups that would help me be a better mom.
Focused more on connecting
Instead of just always going on social media, I tried to send more texts. Having more individual conversations with friends was more fulfilling than just reading feeds. I also tried to call more (who does that anymore!?!). Mostly with my family but even that added more to my day than just “going” on my phone.
Specified a phone time every day
This might seem silly, but it made a huge difference for me. I decided to pick a time in the day that would be my time to just go on my phone. I picked right after my kids go to bed because I really need pure downtime then. I would set a timer and allow myself 20 minutes of phone time.
The reason this was so amazing was that I didn’t constantly feel I “should” be doing something else. This was the time for me to enjoy my phone. I would sometimes have a hot tea or cocoa while I consumed the media on my phone.
Kicked the habit of checking my phone ever few minutes
I found that if I was waiting or bored, I would continuously open my phone to try to fill the void. However, I was just as bored on my phone. It took me a while to realize that I didn’t gain anything but maybe a slight headache from going on my phone so many times. Instead, I would check my phone and then put it down or away.
In fact, the brain can benefit from just staring off into space while waiting in a line. It gives your mind a break. Being able to turn off and zone out is actually important to do multiple times a day because it makes it so much easier for the mind to turn off at night.
Removed the phone out of meal times and out of my bedtime routine
I have heard the advice to remove phones from meal times. My other half still has a hard time doing this. However, once we started this rule, we have better conversation at the table. There is nothing worse than talking to someone who isn’t actually listening because they get distracted by their phone. I also found that having conversation at meal time added a lot of good to my day and change my mood. It also changed how close I felt to the people around me.
Another time that I personally wanted to remove my phone from was bedtime. Screens before bed is bad news for sleep. I cherish every minute I get to sleep. I started finding that if I go on my phone too close to bedtime, I had a problem sleeping. The “blue light” from the screen helps wake you up, which was the opposite of what I wanted. So instead, I check my phone for anything important and look over tomorrow’s calendar at least 30 minutes before bed. I then plug it in and start my bedtime routine.
Found things to replace phone time that were productive, energizing or fun.
Now that I restricted my phone use to only times of the day that would benefit me, I needed to find other things to do. I started by making a list of things that were productive, energizing or fun that I could do in all types of situations.
After I made my lists, I kept them handy and then made sure I could succeed. For example, when waiting at appointments or in the car, I added a novel and my planner to my bag. This way I had no excuse to not start that novel I kept wanting to read but never had the time. I now could also use the time to work on household management such as meal planning or schedules. (If you are shopping for a planner, check out Erin Condren, I love her planners)
I searched google for conversation games for my kids for waiting in a line to check out or waiting for an appointment. This way instead of ignoring each other on phones, I used those extra minutes to improve my relationship with my kids. Add up all those tiny minutes and you can really start to see a change.
Lastly, I worked on making a list for ways that I could be productive in 5 minutes. That way, I could replace a 5-minute phone session with a productive task. By getting more productive tasks done throughout the day, I would gain more time in the evening. So instead of 12 5-minute chunks, I could gain a full hour, which was so much more rewarding and enjoyable.
For instance, instead of checking my phone after lunch, I could unstack the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, sweep, pay a bill, prep dinner, make a phone call, etc. Now, the productive tasks required a lot more energy on my part than just going on my phone. However, when I knew that I would then not have to do anything later, it was well worth it.
Started creating content instead of just consuming content
In my pursuit of changing how I used my phone and social media, I stumbled upon the idea of making money off social media. At first, this sounded to good to be true. I could make money from posting my own content to Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
After looking more into it, I decided that I would start a blog. I spent so much time reading them why not also contribute. It sounded fun and I now had more time in the evening to work on it (since I was using my time more wisely).
Let’s just say I am very glad I took this step because now it’s my full time job. I make six figures from blogging. I started a year ago and now work on multiple blogs. And this was the biggest change. By creating content, my phone time became productive time. I was making money from my phone and computer.
Don’t ever do something for free that you could get paid to do. Make your time spent on social media well worth it.
Pursue improving your phone habits Today
When and why do you go on your phone. Bored? Depressed? Lonely? To learn or do research? Buy?
Were there certain times of the day that you always went on my phone?
Did your mood or day benefit at all?
Rediscover your life in new ways. Restrict your phone usage so that it only adds to your life and your mood. Now replace the negative with either better usage or other things outside of the screen.
Lastly, if you love social media than what are you waiting for? Start making money off all the time you spend on it. Everyone else is so you should too!
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