I need a break from my usual routine of leaving my phone in the living room before going to bed. It’s one of those moments when you want to do things differently.
I wasn’t in a flow state yesterday, except when I was writing my daily brainstorm.
So I went to bed with my phone and my laptop. I needed some entertainment to remind me there’s life outside work, outside writing.
I was downloading an entire series and it was taking too long so I started using my phone. As expected, I got hooked and hours passed. At 2 am, I felt exhausted and dozed off.
Next thing, I’m waking up at 8:50 am and the first thing I do is check my smartphone. One thing led to another and I ended up spending another 2 hours in bed mindlessly scrolling. On a normal day, I would spend the first hour of the morning writing.
This course of events knocked me off my writing trail. I had to go out and let my mind cool down before I could sit down to write this.
I need to tackle phone usage addiction. A phone is one of the most impactful things in a digital writer’s life. Use it well, and it will open opportunities you’ve never imagined. Let it control you and it will send you down the pit of mediocre writing.
It has been the latter case for me most of my life.
My writing life is quite lonely. Most of the time I’m seated at my desk, either trying to deconstruct concepts or writing. My smartphone is a major outlet for my social endeavors. Every time I’m done with a writing sprint, I rush to check social profiles.
Has someone called or texted me? Did people like my tweet? Has Aba and Preach posted a new video?
That’s what’s in my mind during this transition, and it gives me the much-needed dopamine rush.
When I start engaging with it, I lose track of time. Hours later, I try to get back to writing but I can’t master the energy. I’m less motivated and I’ve forgotten my goals. If I sit down to do something constructive, it’s often not as productive or fulfilling as before.
I’ve recognized this pattern over months and it’s hard breaking out of it. I once thought of getting an analog phone, like a Nokia 105, that could drop from the third floor and stay intact.
It has one purpose, to receive calls and text messages. Beyond that, it is a hassle. Oh! It can also serve as a temporary lamp at night when there’s a blackout and as a morning alarm.
My point though, it won’t give me access to the Internet. It’s tough adapting, but with persistence, I can stop my addiction to using a smartphone. And then, I’ll have a better chance to maintain a flow state for an entire day.
But what if the smartphone was more constructive than distractive? What would that look like?
Instead of social media apps, I’d have online publication apps. Currently, I have the New York Times app, but I’m not using it as much as I should. What if I had more of such apps instead of the obvious social platforms? Would I replace my need for socializing with that for reading?
It doesn’t feel right to have an iPhone X and not use it to socialize and browse the internet.
But it will be interesting if whenever I need it, I reconcile with the fact that I can only use it productively.
It is easier said than done. A week without regularly checking WhatsApp, watching YouTube videos, or scrolling on Twitter, is a hassle.
But, I’m still young. I can experiment with a lot of things. I can take this test and walk out a winner. it might be an adventure that turns me into a smartphone doomsday prophet.
Yet, part of my job is interacting with potential clients. So I can’t disappear from social media. I can at least start with a bearable routine rather than jumping into the deep end.
By turning off my phone from midnight to midday and disabling Twitter and YouTube access, I can better use my smartphone.