Day 1: Assess and track
Regardless of whether you spend three days or thirty, the goal of the breakup challenge isn’t to get rid of your phone; it’s to help you take control of your relationship with it.
Here’s what makes „breaking up“ with your phone different from other approaches: It recognizes that we have emotional relationships with our phones. If you don’t figure out the emotional rewards that you’re seeking when you check your phone (for example, reducing anxiety), then any change you make is likely to be temporary.
Likewise, you need to understand your own motivation for wanting to make a change—in other words, why do you want to break up with your phone? That sounds like an obvious question, but you’d be surprised by how many people say “I want to spend less time on my phone” without having any idea why they want to do so—or what they’d like to do with their time instead. Then they try to change their habit through willpower and get frustrated when, inevitably, they fail.
Instead, it’s essential to spend some time thinking about what you want your relationship with your phone to look like—and what you want to be doing with the time that you’d usually spend on your phone.
- Please fill out the phone relationship audit. (A copy will be emailed back to you, so that you can keep track of your progress.) It takes about ten minutes and is best done from a computer with a real keyboard. This will help you establish a baseline, identify your goals and track your progress.
- Find or buy a standalone alarm clock so that you don’t have to rely on your phone to wake you up in the morning. This is an essential step in getting your phone out of your bedroom at night. (If you don’t want to go down an Amazon rabbit hole, our friends at Bagby have some nice options.) A watch is probably a good idea, too.
- Use a time tracker to see how much time you’re currently spending on your phone. Apple’s Screen Time feature will do this for you automatically—though I personally prefer a third-party app called Moment, which is available both for Apple and Android devices. Note that there’s no „perfect“ amount of time, and I don’t recommend using these stats as your only measure of success. (After all, there are many instances in which your phone is legitimately fun or helpful.) Nonetheless, realizing how much of your life you’re spending on your phone can be a very motivating wakeup call.