Offline is the new luxury (8)

Time spent on your smartphone: how could you pass it more wisely? And what exactly does it do for you? Each Friday, Irene, who together with Astrid is the founder of Flow, writes about this particular issue.

Now that I think about it more often, I find it more and more irritating just how my smartphone has crept into my life and how addictive and enslaving it is. I have also noticed that I’m finding it harder to control myself when it comes to this small device; it seems that I need an actual external stimulus to encourage me to leave my phone in my bag more often. Oh, how wonderful it would be to go off on a peaceful book retreat, where I would have to hand in my cell phone for a couple of days. That’s on my wish list for Things To Do Next Year.

What I find particularly surprising about this situation is the fact that I do it to myself —I’m the culprit—and that I don’t show any discipline in my actions. I’m so incredibly strict on myself in so many things: I’ve never missed a deadline, haven’t allowed myself a sneaky cigarette since I stopped smoking all those years ago, won’t allow myself to drink wine every day with my evening meal, (almost) never give in to my chocolate cravings, and always go to bed early if necessary. But when it comes to my smartphone, I just keep looking at it, even when I’ve told myself I can’t. I recently read something interesting about how that works. It all seems to be the fault of our reflex brain—also known as our intuitive brain—which seems to want to look for junk in order to be satisfied. And every ping on our phones (or flashing screen) provides a little gratification. But, in the meantime, our reflecting brain narrows. That logical, analytical and creative thought process of our reflecting brain does not work if we continually focus on what our reflex brain picks up. So to ensure that our brains work, we need more ‘pause moments’ during the day.

With this in mind, I’m going to attempt something new next week. Yet again. As well as the evenings and nights where I try to kick my phone habit, I’m going to leave my phone inside my bag more while I’m at work. So I’ll only allow myself to occasionally check my phone between the hours of 12:00 and 13:00, and after 15:00 (when my daughter might call). Dear colleagues: will you keep an eye on me please? Does anyone else want to try too? It would be lovely if you could share your plans on how you intend to spend more time offline below!