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. Itineraries help here too. You might have an idle weekend at home, book a secluded Airbnb or hotel nearby or ask friends to use their cabin. If you’re close to one, add a national park or natural wonder to your must-see list. Try to be in nature for at least a couple of hours and if nature is not your thing, then luxury. Before your me-time, stock up on essential oils, pack your journal, supplies for a vision board, beauty masks, and all the treats you will need to add pampering to the menu. For all or a part of your break, it would be great to observe a period of silence, preferably at the end.
Do it on the weekend or your day off
It might be too difficult to try and go without your phone if you’re on the road, running around or have any real responsibilities to get done. Plan to unplug on the weekend or your day off when you have more control over your time.
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. By your third time unplugging though, you’ll begin to enjoy it and may even look forward to the break.
Have good eats on hand
You don’t want to overindulge but you don’t want to feel deprived while you’re unplugging either. Nothing will make you miss your “phone fix” more than if you feel deprived. Stock up on great snacks, wine, and other good eats.
Christine is a lifestyle coach living in Los Angeles. Using systems, routines, and some psychological trickery, she can help almost anyone hack their mind and life for greater productivity. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if she's available for one-on-one work.