Switching Off

I can’t believe that we are nearly halfway through January already although It does feel like the dust has settled from Christmas and the New Year. A Christmas and New Year which for me involved  an attempt to get my Hygge on by living more Danishly and holidaying in the ‘Bomb Cyclone’ that took over the East Coast of America. I have to say  it feels good to be back in the relatively tropical comfort of home in Birmingham, UK. Its 3 degrees Celsius today as I write which is a notable improvement in temperature to the -16 degrees Celsius that we experienced in Boston. We had fun but I am glad to be able to pack away my thermal ‘long johns’ for a very long time.

New York

So here we are in the future, it is the year 2018 and like most people I have a new year’s resolution to improve myself. I commenced my latest challenge in self-improvement  a week ago and I am expecting this one to be considerably tougher than living a perpetually Christmassy Hygge existence. For the next three weeks I have decided to improve myself…drum roll please, followed by unnecessary pause added for dramatic affect…..by drastically reducing my mobile phone use.

For many of us, myself included our mobile phones have become an essential part of our day-to-day existence. Ever feel a pang of panic when you think you have forgotten your mobile phone or even worse lost it? Yep me too, the devastation of arriving at work without my phone can ruin the whole day. You return home expecting to see an abundance of texts, WhatsApp messages, missed calls and social media notifications only to return home to the crushing realisation that the only person that has contacted you is Domino’s pizza with a two for Tuesday offer. As an extra kick in the teeth I am gluten intolerant and so I don’t eat pizza let alone two pizzas on a Tuesday night!

I deleted the Facebook app a while ago because of the endless scrolling of my feed that I would do looking at mundane updates from friends and acquaintances (no offence friends and acquaintances) desperately hoping to see a nugget of information that would be remotely exciting or interesting. I would scroll down my feed and see the usual posts about what somebody had for dinner, the person that doesn’t like Mondays, oh look some bodies washing machine broke down, somebody is on holiday etc.… you know the sort of thing.

The problem was that I think I was a little bit addicted to this stream of nothingness and I would check Facebook at any available opportunity. I would pepper my day with little Facebook hits. First thing in the morning, last thing at night before going, waiting at the Doctors surgery or sitting on the toilet, you name it if there was a spare second I would be checking it. I dread to think how much time I spent aimlessly scrolling and refreshing my feed in the hunt for a little nugget of something interesting.

Then there is the small Dopamine hit that everybody now seems to crave. You post a picture of yourself doing something that you think is exciting or cool and wait for the ‘likes’ and comments to come streaming in to help justify your existence. I was never an avid poster on Facebook but whenever I did post anything on my wall it would up the frequency of checks that I would make on the app to see if I had any more likes or comments.

I knew that this had become a bit of a problem and I was sick of wasting my time endlessly scrolling and so I took the drastic step of deleting the Facebook app. Wow! I hear you say, ‘this man deserves a round of applause for he is a modern-day hero, take a bow good sir’.

Hold on. Before you start putting up the bunting for my ‘amazing’ achievement I have a confession to make to you about what happened next. You see I deleted the Facebook app but I would still occasionally check it via my browser and I diverted my attention to some of the other apps on my phone – Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and BBC News among others. You get the picture, the time that I had reduced looking at Facebook I had just diverted to everything else on my phone.

My name is Adam and I am addicted to using my mobile phone, I last time I used my phone was 3 seconds ago….err wait there no I am actually using it whilst writing this blog post, Damn it.

At the start of my latest 3 week challenge I wanted to face my problem head on and  see just how bad things had become. The answer, I downloaded another app. But bear with me because this one is designed to address the very problem that I am trying to resolve.

This app is called Moment, I’m sure that there are other apps out there that do the same thing  but this was the first one that I came across that looked ok. Moment is designed to automatically track your daily mobile phone use and provide you with coaching to help you reduce the amount of time you spend on your phone. The tagline that they use is ‘Put down your phone and get back to your life’ and as this was exactly what I wanted to do I hit the purchase button and downloaded.

For the first week I just decided to track my usage and the results weren’t altogether surprising but were fairly shocking to me. On average I used my phone 1 hour and 51 mins per day, 13% Waking Life is spent on my phone and I pick up the phone 51 times per day. 13% of my waking life is spent on my phone?! What the hell is wrong with me? I am literally wasting my life. In that 1 hour 51 mins per day I could be doing lots of other cool things, I could go jet skiing, maybe a bit of paragliding or try out wrestling, the possibilities are endless. Well on reflection maybe not those things but I could spend that time exercising, reading a book or watching a film. You see my point.

Moment Usage

Things have got to change and so that is why for the remaining two weeks of this challenge I am going to attempt to use my phone as little as possible. I will delete apps, use Moment to track my usage and pretend that it is 1998 again and only use my phone for calls and text messages (including the exception of WhatsApp as a text equivalent). And unlike 1998 I don’t even have Snake on my phone to distract me.

Wish me luck… I’m going to need it. If you are in the Birmingham area and you happen to bump into me I will be that weirdo who is talking to people, not getting run over because I am checking my phone and actually concentrating on films that I am watching without having to check my phone every 2 minutes.

If you want to find out more about ‘Self Improve Me’, you can read about it here.

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