I Broke Up With My Phone And You Should Too

As people living in the western world, it's obvious that we're all addicted to our phones. None of us want to admit it, but deep down most of us probably get an outrageous amount of screen time in a given day. I have the "screen time" feature on my phone send me a notification every Sunday. (Ironically it always comes right as I'm either on my way or getting to church... and if that isn't conviction by the Holy Spirit then I just don't know what is...) It never fails to tell me that I have averaged anywhere between three to over five hours of screen time per day in a given week. I would assume yours might not look too different.

As a pseudo-influencer, I told myself for a long time it was my job to be on my phone. For my actual job, I do need to be on my phone sharing my screen for client calls. So I told myself this lie that my screen time was higher just because it was my job and it's what I'm being paid to do. The reality is that I knew deep down that it was only a very small percentage of my screen time that was work-related. The rest of the time was deep scrolling the depths of TikTok and Instagram, avoiding everyday life, and waiting for the next hit of dopamine to give my brain the neurological high it was seeking. 

Then I went on a humanitarian mission trip to India and my phone didn't work for an entire week. I would hotspot off a friend to download emails and text messages each morning to make sure there weren't any real-life emergencies back home, and then wouldn't think twice about anything the rest of the time I was there. When I got my screen time report for that week, my average screen time per day was 15 minutes. It was honestly one of the prouder moments of my life. 

Two years ago I set a New Year's Resolution to get my weekly screen time down to under two hours a day and failed miserably. I didn't hit that goal for a single week the entire year. I still had my phone convicting me every Sunday, and nothing changed. It took a mission trip to India in the actual middle of nowhere to finally reach this goal. 

One week in India convicted me harder than a Sunday push notification ever could. It was so easy to not be on my phone in India... mostly because I didn't have service, but also because life was so much better around me than what was happening on my phone that it just didn't matter. I didn't think about posting on Instagram. I was present and in the moment with amazing people, doing amazing work, and highly focused on something that mattered. The trip brought meaning and purpose to not only the people we were there to help but to myself as well. 

Then I came home from India. A week later I was driving to church when my phone told me that I had averaged over five hours per day on my phone since being home. Five hours. It was so stupid. What did I have to show for those 35 hours of my life from the last week that were gone forever? Pretty much nothing other than a few dead brain cells. 

It was at that moment that I finally decided to open my eyes and realize what my phone was taking away from me. My actual life. 35 hours a week for years and years and years and years. So I decided to treat my phone like the plague on my life that it truly was. I avoided my phone at all costs. If something could be done on my computer instead of my phone, I took that option. The blessing of having an all-Apple product household is that text messages, emails, etc... can all be sent from my computer. This wasn't an exercise to simply move screen time from one device to another. The time it takes me to send a text or email from my computer is less than a minute. The time it takes me on my phone when I get distracted by a plethora of apps could be 15-30 minutes. 

As someone who manages multiple social media accounts for other businesses, I can't avoid the apps on my phone forever. They do need me on there for some time each day. Everything gets scheduled to auto-post from my computer, and then I make the point to hop on Instagram from my phone at 10 am each day when the posts go live, share them in stories on their respective accounts, interact with a few accounts from each company, and then hop off. This entire process takes me five minutes. 

If I have to make a Reel (which can only be done well in the Instagram app on a phone), I'll write the caption in the notes app on my computer (which will sync with the notes app on my phone) and make sure the video is just the way I want it, and then mad dash into the app to find trending audio, put text on the video, copy and paste the caption, add hashtags, post, share to stories and get the "F' out of there. Again, five minutes. 

The reality is, you have to treat this like a war because it is. Our phones are designed to keep us on our phones. Tiktok and Instagram make money the longer they keep you there. We're at war with something we often feel like we can't control, but we can. The quality of our lives depends on it.

During the last two weeks of doing this, my screen time has been about 40 minutes per day. That's me working my full-time job, sharing my screen on client calls, managing social accounts, and posting to my social media. I can respond to DMs on Instagram from my computer in less than three minutes a day and never have to go in there after posting to get sucked in by the scroll. 

I've had almost no desire to pick up my phone and scroll. Turns out I love those DIY girls on Instagram just like the next person but at this point, I can't tell you what room of their house they're remodeling, and honestly don't care how it turns out. I've started writing the bible by hand, which although insane, is also crazy fulfilling and bringing me so much joy. When I'm out in public I see humans. When I'm in line at the grocery store, I just people-watch. When I'm waiting for food pickup at a restaurant, I just sit in my thoughts. 

It's shocking how much I don't miss it, and yet at the same time my guard has to stay up so high.  One night of scrolling, I know better than anyone else can make everything unravel in an instant. Right now I know I never want to see my screen time over 40 minutes a day ever again, and I'm doing everything I can to protect that. My hope for you is that you can protect that too. That you too can fight for your life, fight for your time, and take this war seriously. The stakes are so high. Our lives depend on it. We can fight this together. 

No comments