Inside: Here you’ll find six activities to help you do more things that make you forget to check your phone, and live a more present life.
How much do you hate getting an obnoxious song stuck in your head? Don’t worry. I’ll refrain from sharing lyrics from the obvious offenders, so you don’t find yourself humming one for the rest of the day, ultimately hating me. While there are a few nostalgic songs I don’t mind reminiscing to for an afternoon, there are some that sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. You know the ones.
The other day my daughter and I couldn’t stop humming a repetitive tune thanks to the elevator music at our local Goodwill. As we climbed in the car, Raegan said to me, “We need to chew some gum. It helps you get songs out of your head.”
“How?” I asked, somewhat skeptical.
“It gets your mouth doing something else,” she said.
In my experience, you should never doubt a third grader with a random fact, but of course, I Googled it, and she was right.
It’s scientifically proven. It got me thinking about another obnoxious habit of mine that won’t let up; the habit of checking my phone for no flipping reason. If chewing gum can stop me from hearing a song on repeat all day, I wondered if perhaps something this simple could help me stop mindlessly checking my phone over and over and over and over….
You see, I’m over this iPhone life. Truly. I mean, it’s great and all. I certainly appreciate its navigational abilities and the fact that I can order more shampoo while I’m sitting in the carpool lane. However, many days it’s more of a distraction than a resource. It often drains me far more than I benefit from it.
Maybe breaking our phone habit has less to do with overpowering the time sucking device, and more to do with occupying my time with things that make me forget about my phone all together.
As I looked back over the last year, there were plenty of moments that made me forget about my phone. Moments when I was so present, engaged and in the moment to bother checking for an email response or monitoring my Instagram engagement. Jesus take the wheel.
Here are 5 Things That Make Me Forget to Check My Phone.
1. Quality Time with Friends and Family
Me: I think my brain needs to start getting together with other humans again.
My husband: Yeah. Even the CDC is saying that.
After a full year of prioritizing in-person learning for my kids over gathering with friends and family, there is hope on the horizon. Nothing makes me forget to check my phone quite like sitting around a cheese board with those I love.
When we get lost in good conversation, cry tears as we laugh at a friend who can’t manage to stay on top of her tube without flipping it over in the lake, or spend hours playing euchre around said cheese board, our phones move off our radar.
One of my favorite spring activities is morel mushroom hunting. Fortunately for me, I enjoy hunting for them as much as finding them, because I almost never find them. When I do, it’s often one lonely little mushroom every three years.
Whether it’s mushrooms, Petoskey stones, deer, or wild leaks, foraging gets me outdoors as the weather begins to warn and keeps me present. You can’t text while searching for an elusive little delicacy. You need your eyes and your attention on the forest.
3. Outdoor Adventure
Hiking, waterfall hunting, climbing sand dunes, and swimming are all activities that keep me present in the moment and off of technology. When I’m engaged in an outdoor activity, I’m less concerned with what’s happening on my phone.
Even better, go where the Wi-Fi is weak. I live in Michigan, surrounded by our stunning Great Lakes. However, if you head out to the beach, odds are good the Wi-Fi will be spotty.
I don’t know what it is about garage sales, thrift stores and antique shops, but I love spending time browsing through them. Thanks to minimalism, I’ve stopped accumulating, “Oooh-I-think-I-could-use-this-Look-it’s-only-a-quarter” items. Now, when I do buy something, I must adore it, need or fully intend to donate it. I prefer to buy second hand when possible and you can read more about why, here.
I could spend all morning getting lost in winding thrift shops or antique malls. Even if I never buy a thing.
5. Reading Fiction
I’m a total non-fiction junkie. I love learning new strategies that stretch me.
But give me a good historical fiction novel and I’ll forget humans are around, never mind my phone. I once hid in my closet on a Saturday afternoon to finish the end of The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah while my husband did all the things we had planned that day. Every time I heard foot steps, I’d scramble to act like I was being “productive.” Paul if you’re reading this, I’m not even sorry. I blame Kristin Hannah.
I’m only a couple years into my love of fiction, and I have a lifetime of catching up to do.
Click here for a list of the best books I read in 2020.
6. Placing My Phone Physically Out of Reach
While distraction techniques are a beautiful gift, sometimes what you need most is to intentionally put your phone out of reach when you want to be present.
I do the same thing with a box of Cheez-Its. If I can’t stop munching on them, I’ll just spontaneously chuck them away from me. If I’m watching a movie, I’ll just throw them across the living room, or if I’m driving, I’ll toss them to the back of the car. The secret is to be sure and close the bag and box. I learned that the hard ways as I made it rain Cheez-Its in the back of my car.
Since chucking your phone across the room isn’t the most responsible thing to do with an expensive piece of tech, here are a few ways to place boundaries around your phone and keep it out of reach.
- Enact phone free days of the week and put it in a drawer.
- Put your phone on the refrigerator before dinner and don’t pick it up again until after the kids are in bed.
- Swap phones with your significant other on date night.
- Leave your phone in your car when you on an outing. (You have enough photos. I know you do).
- Charge your phone overnight anywhere other than your bedside table
Now, I ebb and flow between being really diligent about this practice and clutching my phone all evening as if it’s keeping me alive. It’s not that I intentionally stop using these boundaries. One day I just do. In the words of my friend Aaron, “It worked so well, I stopped doing it.” When you find that to be the case- which you will. When you’ve let your boundaries loosen too wide, simply start again.
Keep in mind that the goal here isn’t to make ourselves too busy to look at our phones. This is simply about identifying the things that light us up and then taking full advantage of them. There’s distraction and there’s discipline. We can’t solely rely on one or the other. But together, they can help us put down our phones more often.
When all else fails, pop some bubble gum in your mouth. I mean, it can’t hurt.
I’d love to hear what keeps you present? What activities, habits or practices make you forget to check your phone?
I’ve created 6 fun, unique lock screen wallpapers containing the words, “Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.” My hope is that these will work to decrease our screen time and help serve as a reminder to live more present lives.