Put Your Phone Down, Walk Away

When I was meditating yesterday, the idea that I needed to spend less time on my phone surfaced. It’s always there, floating around, the notion that I would be better off spending less time on the internet, scrolling on my phone, reading the news, posting updates. I gravitate towards posts where people talk about giving up social media or taking a break from all things digital or even simply cutting down the amount of time they spend looking at a screen. I spend a lot of time contemplating how to do it, what I’d be missing or giving up if I did.

I made myself laugh sitting on my meditation cushion because I thought to myself, “I could make a rule that I can only be on social media if I’m standing up, because when I sit down, I get too comfortable and waste too much time.” I’ve done it before, made rules for myself, like the one where I could only use Facebook or Instagram on my laptop or desktop but had to take the apps off my phone. At night, I try sitting either at the dining room table or on a spot on the couch that’s not as comfortable thinking that will make me spend less time, go to bed sooner to read a book instead. The only rule that’s been somewhere close to consistent is to not take my phone to bed at night, but even that gets broken if Eric is gone or I’m sleeping in the other room because I’m sick or I’m staying at someone else’s house or in a hotel or even at the hospital.

After I was done meditating and came in to write, I scribbled in my journal, “I bet you could come up with a funny list of ways to manage your social media use, reduce time on your phone.” I started one, and as I went, I thought, “I should post this on Facebook” and then it got longer and I was surprised that I could think of so many and after filling three pages, front and back, decided to make it a blog post, starting the list with my original idea.

  • Only use social media while you are standing. To up the difficulty, do squats the whole time.
  • Freeze your phone in a block of ice like a credit card you don’t want to use. You can’t access it unless you take it out and wait for it to unthaw.
  • Store your phone in the belly of a whale or a pit of alligators or a box of snakes.
  • Smear it in peanut butter and give it to your dog. Don’t take it back until the dog has licked it clean.
  • Bake it into a cake and the person who finds it in their slice is king for the day.
  • Snail mail it to yourself.
  • Wrap it like a present with a tag that reads, “Don’t open until Christmas!”
  • Wrap it in a small box, then wrap that in a slightly larger box, and that in an even bigger box, and keep going until you have it all in a giant box. You can only use it after opening all the boxes, and after one hour, you have to wrap it up the same way again until tomorrow.
  • Any time you catch yourself reaching for your phone, drink a glass of water first or chew some gum.
  • Take a walk but forget to take your phone, and when you realize you don’t have it, keep on walking.
  • Have your partner or roommate hide it from you. You can only use it if you can find it.
  • Write a 500 word essay answering the question, “why can’t I stay away from my phone?”
  • Write “I am a human being not a robot. I don’t need my phone as much as I think I do” 1000 times.
  • Join a gym where phones aren’t allowed. Apply for a job there or become a personal trainer or fitness instructor.
  • Wear a shock collar that delivers a zing any time you get within two feet of your phone.
  • Get a squirt bottle and fill it with cold water and a few ice cubes to keep it cold. Squirt yourself in the face a few times any time you reach for your phone.
  • Create a “phone zone” in your house and designate it as the only place you can use your phone. I recommend a 1 X 1 foot spot (standing room only) in the darkest corner of your garage or any spot that is always either too hot or too cold.
  • Make a rule that you can use your phone only while listening to “Baby Shark” on repeat with headphones on and the volume way up.
  • Make a deal that for every 10 minutes on your phone you have to do 20 pushups and 20 squats. This way even if you spend too much time on your phone, you’ll at least be physically stronger.
  • Install a device that will self-destruct your phone if you are on it for longer than 20 minutes.
  • You can only use your phone while wearing swim goggles, a snorkel, nose and ear plugs, and swim fins. To up the difficulty, add a wetsuit.
  • Plant a massive low growing bushy cactus near your house and throw your phone into it.
  • Befriend a murder of crows and teach them to attack any time they see you on your phone.
  • Make a rule you can only use your phone in your backyard — no exemptions or exceptions for weather.
  • You can only use your phone while walking across a bed of hot coals.
  • Smear butter all over your phone or soak it in tuna. No fair wearing gloves or nose plugs when you use your phone next.
  • Install a device that will shock you and make you wet your pants every time you touch your phone.
  • Somehow develop an allergy to your phone. Maybe not deathly allergic but enough that you’d be really uncomfortable — runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing.
  • Teach your dog to alert any time you are on your phone. Whatever behaviors are most distracting and annoying to you, such as constant barking or whining, or pawing at your hands or licking your face or tugging at your pant leg.
  • No phone before 10 am or after 5 pm or between the hours of 10:30 am and 4:30 pm.
  • Only use your phone every other day and never on weekends.
  • If anyone else is in the room or even the building, including pets, you can’t use your phone. In this case, if you don’t already have a pet, adopt one so you are never alone.
  • Change everything on your phone, including the keyboard, to a language you don’t understand.
  • Keep your phone outside on your front step or porch at night while you sleep. If it’s still there in the morning, you can use it for one hour and one hour only.
  • Only use your non-dominant hand when scrolling or typing. If you are ambidextrousness, either tie one hand behind your back or only use your nose.
  • Get a cat who won’t let you touch it, always runs and hides, won’t come when you call it. Put your phone in a tiny back pack and have the cat carry it around. You can only use your phone if you can catch the cat and hold it long enough to get into the backpack. No fair harming the cat in any way trying to catch it or keep it still.
  • Buy an elaborate puzzle box that is almost impossible to solve and store your phone inside.

Okay, that’s as many as I could come up with. Do you have anything you’d add to the list?

4 thoughts on “Put Your Phone Down, Walk Away

  1. Rita Ott Ramstad

    I have no suggestions to add, but I’m voting for the murder of crows method. They already yell at me every time I go out the front door (if they are in their yard), so I think it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to get them to help me with phone use.


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