I would say I have fairly healthy phone habits. I don’t respond to every ding, I put it away when I’m working and an hour before bed, etc., but even I struggle with being without my phone. That’s because I use it for every darn thing! I use it for music, as an alarm clock, reading device, to check the weather, get directions, pay bills, and for about 20 other essential tasks. So I know it can be a challenge to put our phones away for 24 hours. But, there are ways and you and I must make time to unplug.
If we strategize, we can put down the crack-pipe that is our smartphone for a whole weekend or at least for 24-hours. And to lessen the withdrawal symptoms, I’ve come up with a few ideas and tips:
Think old school
For the things you absolutely can’t go a day without (for me that’s music), find an old-school alternative while you’re unplugged. I use Mp3 players and radios for music. If you absolutely must reach out to someone during your unplug, send an audio note or call them instead of texting. If you manage a social media account, pin a note that you’re unavailable for the day or two that you’ll be off. Almost every activity we use our smartphones to do, have an old school alternative.
Use detach apps
If you might use your phone for calls or basic non-Internet functions, make using your phone less appealing. Apps like Quality Time will turn your smartphone into a ‘dumb’ phone for the time period you specify. You can program the detach app to block you out of certain apps, like Facebook, and even to have a black and white display while you’re unplugging.
One of the keys to making time is scheduling it and right behind scheduling is planning. Scheduling is blocking it on the calendar while planning is creating the itinerary. Itineraries are like maps. They lay out all the wonderful things you’re giving up your phone to enjoy and it feels safer to have a ‘map,’ doesn’t it? So make like a cruise director and plan the activities that are going to make you forget your phone.
Plan some memorable stuff
Know how they say that before you die your life flashes before your eyes? If what flashes before your eyes are boring, you’re going to have regrets. Make some great memories for what I like to call your “highlight reel” by doing things worth remembering. Think of spending time with young kids and family members. Try getting away for a girls’ spa weekend or a healing retreat. Plan a camping or adventure getaway to zip-line, snowboard, go whitewater rafting, mountain biking, swim with dolphins or lose your shit. If you do a staycation, plan that too. Plan a Thanksgiving-like party. Do a bake-off, play cards, board games, touch football and take everyone to go see a movie at the end of the day. Your goal is to plan things that easily make you forget your phone and/or require two hands to do.
Have serious me-time
If rest and introspection are what you need from your unplug, there are ways to max that out too. You might go for an idle weekend at home, or you could book a secluded Airbnb or hotel or cabin. It’s good to get away from time to time and have a change of scenery so book the cabin or Airbnb when you can afford it. If you’re close to one, add a national park or natural wonder to your must-see list. Before your me-time, stock up on essential oils, be sure to pack your journal, supplies for a vision board, beauty masks, and all the treats you will need to pamper yourself.
Do it on the weekend or your day off
It might be too difficult to go without your phone during the workweek. If so, plan your Unplug for the weekend. Consider even making it a 3-day weekend so you can take 1-2 days to Unplug and the other days to do laundry and your usual weekend chores and activities.
Make it a regular thing
The first few times without your phone may feel awful. You’re so used to having it within arms reach that being without your phone may feel like you’ve lost an appendage. But, by your third time unplugging, there’s a really good chance that you will start to enjoy, even look forward to the break.
Have good eats on hand
You don’t want to overindulge during your Unplug but you don’t want to feel deprived either. Nothing will make you miss your “phone fix” more than if you feel deprived. Stock up on great snacks, wine, and some good eats/menus.
Christine is a Life Strategist and Emotional Health Coach living in Los Angeles. She's big on meditation and believes in systems and routines, and in personalizing everything you do to help you get where you want to be.