Two Week Smartphone Detox Challenge – Results

In my last post, I announced that I was going to do a challenge on smartphone detox for two weeks. I will reiterate the rules that I have signed up to:

  1. Do not look at phone first thing in the morning
  2. Do not look at / post on social media all day except during designated slots in the morning and evening
  3. Leave phone at home when going out for short distances from home
  4. Do not look at phone before (at least one hour before) sleep

Firstly, let me explain why I have decided to do this challenge.

Why?

Some background first. I have had a smartphone for years now. I use it mostly for connecting to people via social media, mails, a bit of working and online shopping (I shop most of my stuff online these days, I don’t like the crowded malls/shops). I mostly use Whatsapp and Instagram. I have a FaceBook account but I deleted the app from my phone over two years ago. I’m not at all active on Twitter and I hardly ever use it. Finally, I don’t have push notifications for anything. (except of course for normal calls and texts).

So, I’m somewhere in the middle of the phone addiction spectrum. Why did I take this challenge?

  • Reality check: How much am I really addicted to my phone? And if the addiction is really bad, use this challenge as an initiative to get de-addicted.
  • Phoneless life: How does life feel like without constant checking of phone?
  • Know myself: By cutting down the clutter/noise from phone, I was hoping to be more aware of myself.

 

How did it go?

First thing in the morning and at least one hour before sleep:

Initially I struggled to even remember these but eventually, these became easy to stick to. Somewhere in the middle of week 1, I gave in and spent an hour on the phone in the middle of the night because I got woken up by my two year old (who went back to bed and I couldn’t! So typical!). But overall, I can say there has been success in these two rules.

Check social media apps only at pre-determined times:

I chose two designated times for this – 11.30am – 12.30pm and 6.30 pm – 7.30 pm. I sucked at this in the initial few days. To remember firstly and then to resist the automatic urge to check Whatsapp messages and Instagram feed. These apps were filling my empty spaces between one task and the next, while waiting for something or sometimes while eating too. Any moment when I’m not actively “doing” anything, I’d automatically open the social media apps, even without my full awareness. I sort of knew this was the case but taking up this challenge confirmed it.

So in these two weeks, after crossing the hurdle of being able to remember the two time slots, I got better at being aware when my hand would go out to reach for the phone in auto-pilot mode. Then I got better at resisting my strong urge. My strong urge was related to my mind-talk along the lines of “what’s the harm in quickly checking Whatsapp messages?”, “let me just check if XYZ has replied”, “I’m not doing anything for the next 10 mins so what’s wrong in just browsing through my Insta feed?”, “Who cares about this challenge anyway?”. Overall, there were days when I failed and there were days when I was able to go by the rules of the challenge.

Leave phone at home when going out short distances:

I did not follow this well as I failed to remember to not take my phone with me when going out.

 

What did I learn?

Now that I know how much I’m addicted, I think I’m going to continue the ‘check social media apps only at these times’ rule. I’m almost out of the urge to check phone first thing in the morning and last thing in the night. I don’t see a strong reason to leave phone at home as long as I stick to the ‘check social media apps only at these times’ rule.

Phoneless life did not seem extremely different from life before this challenge mainly because I don’t have alerts/push notifications anyway. It was definitely different in that I had sudden pockets of space which I could choose to deal with differently, which actually links to the next point:

I chose to use some spaces in between tasks to meditate for a couple of minutes or may be just take a step back and see how I was feeling. Was I feeling calm or stressed or annoyed or just about anything? This allowed me to catch any negative emotions or even meaningless mind chatter before they became big. Sometimes, during these spaces or waiting times, I chose to just zoom out and watch around – my surroundings, nature, people, other sounds apart from the voice in my head.

This experience is my favourite part of this challenge. It almost is a ready-at-hand self-awareness and calming trick. I was using these spaces to check phone which just resulted in more information noise into my head or aggravate existing emotions or just plain distraction from what is. By cutting the phone out, I feel more calm and balanced as I now realise that I actually have some ‘me’ time at hand if only I choose to use that time in this way.

 

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Two Week Smartphone Detox Challenge

I’m taking a two week smartphone detox challenge. I checked some challenges online and used some of the rules from there. And then I added some of my rules as well. Starting today, I’m doing this challenge. I will do a full post on why I’m doing this and how it went once it’s over.

So here are the four simple rules of this challenge:

  1. Do not look at phone first thing in the morning
  2. Do not look at / post on social media all day except during designated slots in the morning and evening
  3. Leave phone at home when going out for short distances from home
  4. Do not look at phone before (at least one hour before) sleep

Seemingly simple rules. But will need a lot of discipline and willpower to stick to them.

How to get rid of an addiction to a game

This is the second post in the productivity and habit formation series, which I call ‘Better You’. Here is the first post: “Thinking no but saying yes?

Lets dive into today’s topic. How I quit playing Candy Crush (in 3 simple steps):

I had a love-hate relationship with Candy Crush for months! We all know why we love Candy Crush – it is the same reason for hating it! Because it is such a time killer. Every time I closed the app after losing all my lives (I never bought/traded lives), I used to kick myself for wasting that past half hour doing something absolutely useless!

So after several failed attempts at promising myself not to play it any more, I decided to start with an easy target (step 1) and see how I cope with not playing for just two days. It was very difficult to resist but I told myself that at the end of two days, I would have the freedom to play as many number of times as I wanted. At the end of two days, I told myself “Why not try for another two days?”. After tricking myself (step 2) like this for a week and suddenly realising that it has been a week (A WEEK!!) since I played, I felt proud of myself. So I thought, “If I managed this far, I will stretch the challenge for a bigger step (step 3) of one more week”. This was different from the initial two days because this time, I knew right at the start that the coming streak was for one long week i.e. difficult level 2 (pun intended). Anyway, so, after playing these tricks with my mind, I now managed to quit my habit! It has been at least two months since I played and I don’t have an urge to play when I’m waiting in a queue, travelling etc. Bye bye Candy Crush. So long. I love(d) you.

Betteryou_cc 001

By the way, I considered deleting the app before I decided to take the first 2 day challenge but I couldn’t. I had reached 170+ level and I was concerned that I would repent deleting it later. Using the method that I adopted i.e. not deleting the app and yet managing to consciously quit the addiction, I, the mighty Candy Crusher, showed to the world what will-power (and a couple of cheeky mind tricks) can do. 🙂

This is one of the posts in productivity and habit formation series called ‘Better You’. Other posts in this series are: 

Thinking no but saying yes?

Thinking no but saying yes?

This post introduces the productivity and habit formation series called ‘Better You’ that I am planning to write every now and then. I feel that it is important for each one of us to grow constantly and become a better version of ourselves. With that thought in mind, I will be writing about how I form/quit habits and how I drive my productivity. Without further ado, lets dive into today’s topic.

Very often, we come across situations when we are asked to do something that we are unable to do or don’t want to do. It might be a work project that our boss has suddenly asked us to look at when we know we are already loaded with way too much work. Sometimes, it is a social obligation e.g. a friend’s birthday party. Whatever our reason for not being able to commit to that request, we find ourselves being in an uneasy or obligatory state and end up saying ‘Yes’ to the request. We know we want to say ‘No’ and yet we can’t muster the strength to say so.

 

If you must say yes, say it with an open heart. If you must say no, say it without any fear.

– Paulo Coelho

 

First of all, it is important to recognise what we are capable of handling, what we really want to do, what we really love to do, what our priorities are, what our long term goals are. That new project that the boss has asked us to take up, friend’s birthday party – we know they are all important things too. Yet, it is important to say ‘No’ to all those things that are not on the priority list so that we are able to pay attention to those that are. Otherwise, we’ll end up not doing anything well. We get carried away convincing ourselves that we will be able to do the perfect balancing act. It is tempting to think that just stretching ourselves a little bit more will allow us to do everything. Just one more hour at the desk. Just one more day or one last time. Just one less hour of sleep. And before we know, we work ourselves to the point of breakdown. Breakdown of health – mental or physical or both, breakdown of relationships with people around us, breakdown of our project/work performance, breakdown of our patience, breakdown of our peace.

Now that we understand the importance of saying ‘No’, lets move on to actually saying it. Once you start the conversation about saying ‘No’, remind yourself that there is no turning back however awkward or uneasy you feel. You know you have clearly prioritised other things over this. There is no point loitering and making things difficult for you and the people expecting an otherwise ‘Yes’ from you. But of course, we can learn to say ‘No’ politely and may be also explain our rationale behind it. There is no need to be rude, just plain simple ‘Sorry but No’ – clear, polite and firm. This is probably the most difficult part of this process but remember, it is not any more difficult than trying to do everything!

You have chosen your priorities and also mastered the art of saying ‘No’ to the less important things or distractions. Now what? Make sure you focus well on the priorities you have opted for. Give them your best and justify your choice of making them your priority amongst a million other things you could have done instead. It doesn’t end there. When life throws new unexpected things to deal with, recalibrate. Reassess your priorities in light of these new developments and repeat the same process again.

In no time, you will undoubtedly start seeing the benefits of this process of prioritising and de-prioritising and also being bold at saying ‘No’ to those low or nil priority things.

If you have any useful techniques for setting priorities or for saying ‘No’, please share them in the comments below. I hope you found this post useful. Stay tuned for the next post in this ‘Better You’ series where I will tell you the story of how I quit my addiction to playing Candy Crush.

 

 

2 rants and introducing “my happy corner”

There are a couple of things that have frustrated me lately and I have an urge to write about them.

1) People relating to me solely on the basis of my origin i.e. where I was born, where my parents come from, where my partner comes from and so on. In a professional world, how does it matter where you are from. Both professional relationships and personal relationships should be based on what a person is, what their interests/hobbies/skills are and so on. It flips me out when I see a sense of immediate “connection” that people feel as soon as they realise that I can speak their language and that I am from the same state/city as they are. I can see why they feel connected in that they feel comfortable due the ‘common’ aspects. So far so good. But they go that extra mile to be nice to you because you have a common origin or conversely (which is the worse bit), they are less nice to you if you are from a different origin compared to someone who is from the same origin as they are. I just don’t understand the bias! I connect with a person on the basis of common interests/skills or complementary interests/skills or a good sense of humour or because they are generally nice and so on so forth.

2) Gossip: I’ll be honest and admit that I gossip too. However, I gossip to people about people who they have no connection with. And since the listener doesn’t know the person that I’m gossiping about, he/she will not spread the gossip any further except rarely, when they (for some disconnected reason) narrate the story to someone totally unrelated again. So due to this “disconnected” nature, I find my gossiping to be less guilty, because my gossip doesn’t really harm the person that I’m gossiping about. Now there is a second type of gossiping where one gossips to another about someone they both know. This is dangerous because this is where the gossip spreads like fire. A lot of people have this compulsiveness to spread the gossip faster if it is about someone they both know. And more often than not, it ends up in bad/harmful publicity for the person who is being gossiped about. And worse: the gossip is not 100% factual. It snowballs from one mouth to the other and ends up becoming a mess. Why do people have this compulsive disorder of being excited about spreading bad and wrong information? What is exactly exciting about the bad/wrong information about someone? Is it the sense of ‘feel-good-about-oneself’ and therefore a sense of superiority resulting from talking bad about someone else? All this doesn’t sound good at all. As I said earlier, I’m guilty of some level of gossip too and I’m working towards bringing that to nil gossip. I know it’s going to be difficult not to gossip but I’ll compensate this with other guilty pleasures 😉

Now the things that made me smile/happy:

I have come across this awesome challenge called #100happydays where everyday you have to submit a picture of what made you happy. It can be as simple as your morning coffee or a flower in your garden or a dinner with someone close to you. It is a wonderful to remember and appreciate that small things that we do everyday make us happy. By posting out pictures everyday of such small ‘happy’ things, we tend to develop a sense of gratitude for the good things we have in life. I badly need to develop that habit of being happy and thankful for what I have, instead of being sulky because of the things that make me unhappy/frustrated.

So I decided to take up a similar challenge in my blog posts. It is going to be almost impossible for me to post a blog everyday. Therefore, with some modification to the challenge, I came up with this idea to write a “my happy corner” in each of my 100 posts that I’m going to write next. It may be unrelated to the post but there will be a happy corner to describe what made me happy lately. I’m hoping this will spread a little bit of ‘happy’ magic dust over me and the people who read it. 🙂

Now, quickly moving onto the first “my happy corner”:

My Happy Corner #1

I finally managed to find time to start painting. For months, I have been dying to stir up my interest in art projects. Over the last few years, the demanding nature of my career meant that the artsy side of me went into pathetic hibernation. I have missed that side of me a lot because I totally love art projects like sketching, home decor – DIY, painting etc. I’m not a pro in any of these things however I am good enough to make me happy 😉 So, anyway, I recently managed to de-prioritise a few things so I can spend some time painting. I have started testing out a few designs on paper so that once I finalise a design, I can paint on a T-shirt or a collared shirt. Sounds like fun? Yes me thinks. I shall try and post pics of the project once it starts taking some shape.