In Oct 2020 I made a decision that completely changed my life:
I made the move from smartphone to dumbphone.
Here’s what happened:
My life with a smartphone
Overstimulated. I felt unsettled in my mind and held a pervasive ‘background’ anxiety that followed me around all day.
I was checking my phone constantly. The anxiety nagged away at me: ‘YOU’VE GOT TO GET THIS DONE!’
There was no inner peace. With infinite apps in my pocket – I was smothered in abundance. Picking a podcast was stressful. Answering the gazillion WhatsApp messages was a burden. And the compulsion to check my phone was a constant distraction I felt powerless to.
I fully justified why I wasn’t present with my friends: ‘I run two businesses’ ‘I just need to send this email’ etc etc. It’s only now I look back and realise how mixed up my priorities have been.
My concentration span was very short. I felt I couldn’t read a book even though I wanted to.
The lack of presence made its way into all aspects of my life: I couldn’t enjoy walks and standing in line at the supermarket I immediately felt bored.
Any time I wasn’t stimulated I had the urge to be. My phone was using me.
My life without a smartphone
I have fallen in love with reading.
I went tech free for 4 days and I did a lot of reading. It was a sheer joy. I felt I could really take in the words (a rarity). But after the tech cleanse I used my smartphone for 2 hours and then picked up my book. What happened shocked me. I could barely process the words. I had to keep re-reading to take things in!
My concentration span had been significantly diminished in the space of 2 hours on my smartphone.
My level of daily anxiety has dropped drastically. As someone who has struggled with anxiety immensely this is something I’m eternally grateful for.
There is more stillness and connection in my life. The other day my train was delayed by 40 mins. I felt the ‘shit what am I going to do with myself?’. It was snowing that day though and as I stood outside the station I found myself in complete awe of the way the snow was falling. It felt magical. I watched the thousands of particles drop from the sky and 40 minutes flew by.
This has never happened to me before.
I’m more productive and creative. I have more time and energy to spend on nourishing activities. I’m flowing in and out of tasks with more ease uninterrupted by messages or scrolling. This mental space has fostered way more creativity than usual.
My self-respect has increased. I’ve done something entirely for me and my body and mind are extremely thankful.
I’m sleeping like a baby. With less stimulation my mind can rest far easier in the evenings when I’m ‘winding down’.
I have the space to build a healthier relationship with myself. If I’m having a coffee with a friend and they pop to the toilet I no longer go on my phone. It’s just me and my thoughts and that’s very welcome. I can enjoy being with myself.
My concentration span is the best it’s ever been. I can really take in films, music or a podcast to a degree I’ve never felt before. I’m less fidgety and a better listener which is improving my relationships with friends and family.
The quality of my life is higher. I enjoy life more. Simple as that.
This is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. No doubt about it.
I can honestly say that I’m never going back.
Why would I?
What phone do you have?
I got the iconic Nokia 2720 flip phone.
It has 4G. I text, call and use google maps on the go. That’s it.
And it’s under £13 a month for unlimited calls/texts and 12gb data (for the maps).
How do you listen to music or podcasts?
I have a first gen iPod touch that I use for podcasts and a CD player for music.
I download podcasts one at a time and listen to albums on the player. This means I can take my time with each podcast and CD so I’m not overwhelmed by choice but rather savour and really take in what I’m listening to.
No Whatsapp or Social media?
Whatsapp has been deleted. One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I still text/call my friends…
I use social media for work and have boundaries in play now. I only post for work related things on my laptop (in working hours). As a freelancer shutting off from work when I push my laptop screen down has been a revelation.
The weekends are full of play and rest.
If you found this post interesting you can listen to this ‘Goodbye Smartphone‘ podcast episode.