How shutting down the phone has opened our minds.
This is how the drop the phone campaign affected our families and our lives.
I learned that anything and anyone can wait. Nothing is as important as I once thought it was. Nothing happens when I don’t answer right away.
I learned that I really enjoy telling my kids “I have no idea where my phone is” when they ask me to “look up something.” It gives them a message that the phone is not important to me.
I learned to disconnect throughout the day as well. That itch is gone. I don’t reach out to it constantly. I actually look around more and am bored less.
I learned that social media was eating up my creativity and Whatsapp was making me unproductive.
I learned that you can accomplish so much when uninterrupted.
I learned that a game of Chutes and Ladders played with whoever is in the mood is way more fun than a game of Bejeweled on my own.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was pretty nervous to take upon myself to drop the phone. I feel like I always have “emergencies” that need to be addressed. I like to cross things off my list so if I get an idea for BCP, I like to message the BCP group chat.
However, I knew that if the entire team was off at the same time as me it would make things easier.
Obviously, I don’t need to share how much easier it is to serve dinner and do homework and baths with less distraction. I personally shut down my Instagram and Whatsapp but left open text messages and calls during the “Drop the Phone” hours.
I didn’t put away the phone but I told family members that if they need to reach me they should text message (the old fashioned way) and not Whatsapp me. There is something about Whatsapp that sucks you into longer conversations. Texting is much quicker and to the point.
It was way easier than it imagined. I didn’t feel like I was missing my phone. Any idea that I had during those hours I wrote down. As for Instagram, I missed that even less, and I used it much less than usual. I usually try to answer betweencarpools DMs fairly quickly and I realized that nothing happened if it took a few hours to respond. I think I can maintain this long term and being flexible with the timing. I’m thinking 5-6:30 and then again from 7:30-8:30.
I learned that the world doesn’t come crashing down when you disconnect for a little while. And I’ve been very conscious of the amount of hours of screen time my phone shows and I try to get it lower every week because it’s a scary number. It’s hard to qualify by number because a significant amount of that time is actual work time, but there is definitely room for improvement.
A highlight so far was when we went out for a casual dinner, I didn’t take my phone out of my coat pocket the entire time because there was just no chatter to listen out for.
I do believe that flexibility is important. Just because it’s 5-7, which are my usual hours to drop the phone, doesn’t mean that’s a hard and fast rule. When I find myself sitting outside the orthodontist’s office waiting for a kid, there’s no reason not to get some work done (or even not work) on my phone. And if there are two other hours that are more important on a specific day, I’ll change the time.
It has to work realistically for it to last, in my opinion. But the awareness is much more constant.
I want my kids to know that “This is just for work and taking cute pictures of you. So unless someone is acting or looking really cute, I don’t need a phone when I’m home.” So, even if my phone is not very necessary when I’m home and can use a regular computer for work (it’s very helpful for me when I’m on the road and need to take care of work tasks), when they see that the phone “is shut down” during the busiest home hours, it shows that it’s really not for personal use. It really simply is a work tool. It’s not something that’s fun!
I also learned that answering emails right away–even though it comes from a desire to be productive–is actually unproductive. I want to cross things off my list. But I really don’t need to answer that email at midnight or 6 a.m., even if it just needs a quick and easy response. Sometimes, if I read a work email during personal hours, I may forget to respond, or the pressure of responding or ‘taking care of it,’ is just a burden until I can handle whatever the email is addressing. I’m considering shutting down emails from my phone for longer than just 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. If I can’t “handle” them before 9:30 a.m. or from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. why should I be worrying about them?
I learned how much freedom you gain by disconnecting. I’ve removed web access and had Instagram set to auto shut down a few months prior to this challenge, so when the team announced the “drop the phone campaign” I was all up for it.
As soon as I get back from carpool, I tuck my phone away and everyone knows that until 7 my phone is nowhere to be found. When it’s around me, I would often catch myself opening Whatsapp without even consciously meaning to. It didn’t matter if I was walking somewhere, preparing dinner, or even in middle of a conversation with a child, after all, I always pulled off giving my attention to both at once. Not having it on me, made me realize that everyone will manage just fine without me and there’s nothing that important that I need to see or read that cannot wait till later. I’ve learned that everyone and everything deserves the right to have its full undivided attention.
The first few days, I would be eager to see what i missed at 7, but these days I’m actually more than happy to leave it in hiding for a bit longer. Iv’e learned that being connected at all times, creates a false connection that you can only recognize by being disconnected.
A close family member who refuses to have Whatsapp always says ” I don’t have Whatsapp, but I have a life”… and although I always knew this to be true, I am finally able to feel just a little bit of that disconnected life myself.