Phone-Free Focus

If you tuned in to last week’s post you’ll know that last week I decided to experiment with giving up my phone. Not entirely, I’m not completely nuts, but as someone whose hand is welded to her phone 80% of the day, I wanted to try using it only as originally intended – for phone and text messaging. My hope was that by removing temptation, I would trade the time I spent staring at the little screen for something more productive.

So how did I get on?

Day One

Every morning, I open my eyes, kiss my husband before he goes to work, then grab my phone to catch up on anything I missed during those hours of seemingly futile sleep. Today, I must have moved to pick my phone up three times before I was even out of bed, before remembering there was nothing to look at. I had new news apps, no weather apps and no social media. Without the distraction of a Facebook news feed, I was out of bed in minutes. Even better, instead of beginning my day in a fug of news-related melancholy, I did a guided meditation after getting up. I floated through my morning relaxed and feeling positive, and as a result didn’t have a meltdown when my new laptop wouldn’t boot up.

Day Two

Without immediate access to social media or news, I was able to start my day without confirmation of Donald Trump’s presidency, making my morning more bearable than most! In the evening, I helped a friend run a pub quiz and while I love doing it, I generally use the time to catch up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. With nothing to do but play songs I expected I’d be bored. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the experience of zoning out to the music and didn’t even notice I was being watched as I sang ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ by Billy Joel. Until I got a round of applause at the end, at least. Embarrassing!

Day Three

I cycle into town, blissfully unaware we areexpecting heavy rain showers. I cycle home later on a rain-soaked seat and end up with a seat-shaped wet patch on my jeans. Neither fun nor comfortable. But all is not lost! I escape the worst of the rain with an impromptu solo lunch at one of my favourite restaurants – Conto Lounge. I would normally spend the time on social media but instead take the opportunity to eavesdrop on my fellow diners and do some writing. I’m sure I also enjoy my meal more because my attention isfocused on it.

Day Four

Getting into this a little more now. I feel less distracted, more relaxed and the pressure to take interesting photographs or post fascinating tweets has passed. I still have my moments – watching a film leaves me itching to look up some of the actors on the IMDB app but I resist, allowing myself to simply enjoy the film.

Day Five

The majority of the day is a breeze – I’m not allowed to use my phone while I’m at work so not having it on Saturdays is no longer an issue. But when I get home I’m exhausted and desperately want to hide myself in my Facebook news feed. I do another guided meditation instead and accidentally drop off to sleep on the sofa. When I wake up I allow myself to scroll through Facebook – but on my laptop, not my phone.

Day Six

I start my day with a gorgeous cooked breakfast in bed, I study without interruption and I help my husband battle the disaster zone that is the spare room. Replacing the mindless time I spend messing with my phone with something more productive means that for the first time in months the house is looking cleaner, my work is up to date and I have time and energy for things I really enjoy. I read, I cook, I play with my cats and I spend time with my husband.

 

The Outcome

In all, it’s obvious to me (and probably to you as well) that although I missed having many of the apps on my phone, my quality of life definitely increased without them. I felt more alert, I had more time and I got a hell of a lot more done. But it would be silly to deny that these apps in some way enrich my life as well. Had I checked the weather app before my cycle, I could have avoided the worst of the bad weather. And as a writer, staying current with the news is important, so being one of the last people I know to discover America’s new president was Trump was disappointing. So what have I learned? I’ve learned I DO use my phone too much and that it can be upsetting to some (both my husband and a couple of friends have bemoaned my constant phone usage), but removing access altogether isn’t feasible. What I have taken from this is that it’s okay to use my phone and the apps on it, but maybe I need to use them all a little less.

Could you give up your phone apps for a week? Perhaps you only ever use your phone occasionally already? Why not share your experience in the comments below?

Phone-Free Focus

The Reboot

I’ve had kind of a rough time recently.

A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with a stomach issue that was reasonably well controlled with medication until the beginning of August when everything went a bit wrong. Then it went really wrong after we got back from Rome and it’s been getting worse ever since. Unfortunately, I’ve been told such problems are common in coeliacs. I last saw my ENT in May and I can only assume that afterwards his fingers mysteriously dropped off, rendering him unable to respond to my messages pleading for help. Poor man. In desperation (and to stop my constant whinging) my parents kindly put up the funds for me to see a private gastroenterologist, who was sure to help me.

The rushed, albeit fairly kind, lady I saw didn’t really have an answer I had hoped for. While there is an op that could (I repeat ‘could’) cure me, it would first require a manometry.

A what!??

I had never heard of such a thing! She explained they would feed a tube up my nose, down my throat, and into my stomach, while I was fully conscious. They would then leave it there and send me home to have a jolly old time eating and drinking everything that makes me feel poorly – tea, coffee, alcohol, spicy foods, chocolate. Once I was feeling spectacularly sick (and yes, able to feel the tube hanging down the back of my throat at the same time), I would return to the hospital to have the tube passed back up my throat and out of my nose. Such larks! If that sounds bad, let me tell you that experiences across the net are not favourable. Most patients report endless gagging, tolerating it only for a few minutes.

After I ran screaming from her office I decided to start looking at alternatives and settled on trying to fix my stomach through diet. Last week I removed everything from my diet but potatoes and my gluten free bread, the idea being that a super-plain diet for a time will be like pushing the ‘restart’ button on a computer. Once my stomach has rebooted, I’ll start introducing foods S-L-O-W-L-Y, each for a few days at a time, removing anything that could be linked to my symptoms. This plan was disrupted on day four, by which time I had become a bear in hibernation; grumpy, hungry, and too tired to function from the lack of nutrition. I brought back eggs, peas, porridge, Quorn, celeriac and soya yoghurt and felt thoroughly rotten again.

So now I’m back to eating relatively plainly again. The peas, Quorn, porridge and celeriac are sticking around but I’m dropping the yoghurt and eggs for a time to see if things calm down again.

With this going on, it’s been really hard to focus on anything and my studying and work is starting to suffer while I curl up on the sofa, playing about on my phone for hours on end.┬áSo here’s the plan: for the next week, I’m ditching my phone. Not completely, but after being called out by three different people for ‘always staring at that bloody thing’, I decided we need a slight parting of the ways. From tonight, I’ll be using my phone ONLY for calls and messages. To remove temptation, I’ll delete Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, IMDB, Gold, Amazon, email, BBC Weather and Fitbit. Rather than losing (what is probably) three hours a day at least just staring at my phone, I hope I’ll be more productive, more energetic and will be more inclined to give meditation and yoga another go. It’ll be like I’m 16 again, wielding my Nokia 3310 with its jelly keys while playing in the road with my friends. Except it’ll be a Sony Z5 and I’m probably too old to play in the road. But you get the idea.

Of course, I’ll still be able to access everything from my laptop in the evenings but this should be an interesting experiment in how much our current phone usage distracts us from more positive activities in everyday life.

I’ll report back next week but in the meantime, if you want to join in then please do, and it could be very interesting to look at the results next week! Could you give up your phone? Maybe you would find it too hard? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

The Reboot