One of the biggest driving forces that led to shifting my purpose and vision for The Lowly Life, was my smartphone. Over the past couple of years, I’ve found myself going back and forth about using my phone too much and really struggling with just how involved things like social media were in my life, and in the lives of those around me.
Technology and all we have access to through it is truly amazing! It’s fun and can be a practical, useful tool for our lives. But it can be overused so easily and there are many unfortunate side effects to this. Relationships suffer, we disconnect from real life moments and experiences, drama (So. Much. Drama.) discord, and comparison eat away at us, our health can be negatively impacted, and we can struggle to be productive. It was really important for me to take a major step back and look at how I was personally being affected by the ways I used my phone, and then determine the changes that I needed to make.
Now this is coming from a girl who LOVES her Instagram and has made so many incredible connections through being on social media! I know that there are many positive aspects to it and it can be a beautiful way to engage with others. But I do think use of social media and our smartphones in general, has blown way out of proportion and that it could be dialed down a bit. Okay, a lot.
We can implement significant changes into our everyday lives that will help us spend less time on our phones, and live more simply, intentionally and purposefully. This will look different for all of us, but today I wanted to share with you some simple ways that I’ve personally created distance from my phone, and the boundaries that have really helped me to be more productive, mindful and invested in different areas of my life. I hope they are helpful for you as well and that you’ll consider giving them a try if you’ve found yourself in the same boat.
1. Turn Notifications OFF
This one change has been SO helpful for me! My phone used to blow up with all kinds of notifications throughout the day and it made it difficult to be self controlled and not respond to things immediately. So at the start of this year, I turned off all social media notifications and it’s been absolutely wonderful. Now my phone only goes off if I receive an email, phone call or text message. In addition, I’ll usually have my phone on silent during the day, and this has also helped me be more detached and able to get things done without it calling to me 24/7.
2. Phone Free Date Nights
I recently started leaving my phone at home or in the car when Jay and I go out for date nights. This boundary allows me to focus more fully on time with my husband, without the distraction or need to check my phone for anything.
Back on our 2 year wedding anniversary, Jay took to me to a super fancy restaurant in Downtown Austin. It was such a beautiful place and the food was insane! I very quickly grabbed my phone to capture/post it all and he lovingly asked me if I could just put my phone away. A very simple and understandable request. This made me so frustrated, however, because all I was trying to do was capture the beauty of what we were experiencing. I didn’t see the harm at the time.
But the truth is that it simply wasn’t necessary. Jay wasn’t trying to be a jerk, all my husband wanted was a full date where we were focusing on simply being together, not worried about sharing it with the world or capturing the perfect picture.
There isn’t anything wrong with taking a snapshot to remember something beautiful, but we have to be careful and mindful that it doesn’t become routine, obsession, distraction, and have a negative impact on the people around us.
Don’t get me wrong, every now and then I’ll bring my phone with me if I want a picture with Jay or of where we are, but I never post in real time and always try to be selective and disciplined in it.
3. Phone Free Night Stand
I don’t know about you, but this girl is a major night owl. I am always more productive, alert and my creative juices flow best late at night. Jay on the other hand tends to be an early riser and can be out cold by 8:30/9PM, which is pretty much impossible for me. We hardly ever go to bed that early, but sometimes he’s ready to hit the hay long before I am. We don’t like going to bed separately, so unless I have something specific to work on, I try winding down when he does.
More often than not I am tossing and turning, wide awake forever after he’s gone to sleep, so my first instinct is to grab my phone off of my night stand. It’s terrible I know, but it’s usually the only thing that “helps” get me to sleep. I’ve wanted to break this habit because I know it isn’t good for me, so I finally made a change and moved my phone away from my nightstand. It now charges on our dresser, on the opposite side of the room, which I’m too lazy to get up and grab if I can’t sleep. So that worked out nicely!
While this has been been an adjustment, it’s definitely been a positive one. I’ve actually had an easier time getting to sleep since making the switch, which is interesting. It also gets me out of bed quicker in the morning because I have to get up to shut off my obnoxious phone alarm, as opposed to hitting snooze a billion times when it’s next to me. We’ll be getting lamps for our room soon, so I’ll be able to read in bed when I can’t sleep, and that usually works wonders for me, too.
4. Posting Content Later And Less
I used to feel this strange need to post in real time and often. I thought I had to post something every single day, and would even stress over not having content to share. It was ridiculous. Platforms like Instagram are such fun creative outlets and I love being able to showcase different aspects of our lives through pretty pictures, but these apps should never, ever control us and it can be so easy for them to.
Things don’t have to be shared the moment they happen, and sometimes a moment should just be enjoyed for what it is, away from our phones and our favorite apps.
This shift in mindset was a game changer for me. I started looking at social media in a different light and saw less of a need for it in my everyday. For me, it’s been really helpful setting boundaries online, when it comes to how much I post and how much I’m on in general. Weekends, for example, have become more of a phone free time in our home, where we aren’t posting, interacting online much and are very intentional about doing things together.
For you it might not be your phone. Maybe it’s Netflix, or cable, or just too much time browsing on your computer. Whatever the case may be, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing a good job of being invested in the lives of those around you, intentional with your time, and disciplined in the way you’re using technology. If you find that these areas could use some work, and even if none of my ideas suit your fancy, come up with a list of your own and give it a trial run! See the difference it makes for you.
I want to conclude by saying that I AM NOT PERFECT. I do not succeed in every area of this all the time and this is a constant work in progress! I’m not over here saying I have all the answers, because I most certainly don’t! But I have experienced very quickly the benefits of incorporating these much needed adjustments. I feel so passionate about giving my phone and technology in general, less of a place in my life. Because life is precious, and it’s important to view all that we do, as well as the motives behind what we do, in light of that.
Thanks for reading and please let me know if you give any of these a try/how they’re working out for you. Happy Friday!