Leaving Your Phone

Jun 20, 2014
Joe Buhlig
~3 mins

Have you ever intentionally left your phone in the car while on a date? Was it freeing or did it feel like prison? Have you ever, like me, found yourself on Twitter while at the dinner table? Was that any different?

Are we too attached or even addicted to our phones? I have a hard time answering that question. I want the answer to be no, but I hesitate because I think the answer could be yes.

This past Sunday was Father’s Day. I wanted to be Super Dad and stay focused on my wife and daughter. To be successful I knew I needed to put the phone out of reach and avoid picking it up as much as possible.

This is always a big challenge for me. I’m one of those people who has his phone with him at all times. I keep it on me. Always. It feels weird not having it either in my pocket or on the desk in front of me.

After Cutie woke up from her nap, we decided to go for a walk. We love walks! We usually put at least a mile or two behind us. This time I decided to leave my phone behind. I usually bring it “in case something happens”. That’s my crap rationalization at it’s best. Especially since Becky has her phone in the stroller anyway. This time, I decided to leave it at home.

And it was a great walk! We enjoyed the outdoors and had a great conversation. I didn’t need my phone. It was just fine at home without my attention.

This little victory over my phone taught me that I need to separate more often. I get to experience things a bit differently when I look up from it. Here are 4 steps I’m taking to help create more balance:

1. Internet-free Sundays

One day a week, I’m going to make an attempt to shut down the data on my phone and turn off the wifi on all my devices.

I’m choosing Sundays as I normally take a day of rest then. I want my sole focus to be on my family. Not that it isn’t at other times, but I want to be more intentional about it on this day.

To be honest, this one scares me. The “what if” monster is screaming in my head. If it was easy and simple, I would have done it already. But that doesn’t mean it won’t pay off in the end.

2. Leave my phone in the office over lunch

Since I work from home, I enjoy lunch with my family most days. I usually take my phone with me when I head upstairs. No more. I’m leaving it in the office unless I’m expecting a call from a client. If I need to collect an idea or a to-do, I’ll write it in my hPDA. That’s much less intrusive than opening an app to write something down. It’s less distracting too.

3. “Do Not Disturb” during play time

I really enjoy play time with Cutie. We have a blast! To keep my phone from being a distraction and help me focus on her, I’m going to start enabling DND mode beforehand. I don’t want anything to distract me during that time… unless it’s my wife asking me to kill a bug for her. Bugs make life stand still.

I’m choosing DND mode over Airplane mode because I may still need to take phone calls from important people (mostly family) during those times. The “what if” monster keeps showing up and reminding me of potential emergencies.

4. Device-free after 8:30

This one will be hard for me. I like to browse through feeds and read articles at night. But that usually means I’m not reading my book or having a conversation with my wife. Both of which have greater value to me than RSS feeds.

We try to get to bed around 9pm or shortly after, so I’m giving myself 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed. There’s a lot of research that shows the benefits of disconnecting before bed.

That’s my game plan. I’ll try it out for a while and see what parts help.