It’s the dirty little secret we don’t talk about in online business.
We sneak it into the bathroom, hide under our sheets, or in the pantry pretending to find the kids snacks…
glued to our smartphones, “working”.
We have online businesses to run, so we have to be online, right?
A quick pop onto Facebook to check replies for that last post.
Then over to Instagram to see if any non-bots answered our question sticker (still nope).
Each grab of the phone starts the involuntarily, yet obligatory app circle:
All 3 accounts.
DMs. Stories. Feed.
Jump to Facebook
Notifications. Groups. Feed. .
Back to Insta.
Why am I here?
Maybe a little Slack, Vox + Marco Polo?
24 minutes later you have no clue what you just did for “work”.
Cut the crap, we can’t intelligently call this work.
For me, it became more of an escape.
From what? I do not know.
To where? Also not entirely sure.
Our smartphones take us to another world… one filled with strangers doing exciting things that somehow make us feel better and worse about ourselves in tandem.
The damn phone.
But it’s also kinda nice.
You can order Philly Cheesesteaks and staples from bed.
It tracks our calendar, our projects, our cycles.
Without it we wouldn’t remember birthdays or phone numbers or dentist appointments or know how to get across town because HELLOOO, who sits in traffic when there is WAZE!?
We meditate together.
We sleep together.
We freaking PEE together.
That damn phone.
How is it possible that we, smart, resourceful, highly competent and capable business owners with seriously impressive accomplishments, allow an object to pull our attention away from the things that matter most?
Like our families. And actually building our businesses.
The. Damn. Phone.
Maybe it isn’t the phone that’s bad.
It’s actually our unhealthy relationship with it.
The sad truth is that your relationship with that smartphone might be your most intimate relationship of all.
Because if you’re like an average American, you spend 4+ hours a day on the device (that’s more than 28 hours a week).
And when you do, your mental clarity, social skills, memory and focus are significantly (and negatively) impacted.
That becomes a business building problem.
A particularly complicated one when you hold the belief that you need to stay connected through your phone (as I did the majority of the last decade).
That’s why when I picked up the book: How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30 Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price, I was embarrassed to admit that not only did I have a problem, it was far larger than I expected.
I learned that while implementing tips and hacks over the years (a lock screen, hiding apps in folders, tracking apps and setting time limits), I’d always slide into a new way of working around them after about a week or so.
Instead of tapping a social media app on my home screen, I’d just swipe down and search. Instagram was always the first on the list.
Or like the time I uninstalled Facebook and did well for a week, but found myself just logging in on the mobile site instead.
Or when I’d set social media app time restrictions, only to end up just unlocking them with the password mid-day.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?
The issue with all of these is they didn’t address the core problem: the relationship I had with my phone.
In her book, Catherine Price does an exceptional job breaking this down, exploring far more than tips and tricks (thought she tackles that too). She lays it out in two sections:
- The Wake Up
- The Break Up
Part 1: THE WAKE UP
In The Wake Up, Price helps us understand how and why smartphones and apps are designed so we can better understand how we interact with them. She covers topics like:
Chapter 2: Putting the Dope in Dopamine – how the activation of pleasure related receptors in our brains (the place that rewards behaviors) is not only connected to the hit we get from checking our phone, but is also released at the mere THOUGHT of checking them.
Chapter 3: The Tricks of the Trade – how our psychology of being “novelty junkies” as Price refers to it, is fueled by the dopamine hit that comes from newness. Our phones and apps are literally designed to offer this every second.
Chapter 4: Your Phone is Changing Your Brain – Price reminds us that “most the hours we spend on our smartphone are not spent in concentrated thought. Instead, we’re picking up our phone for minutes or seconds at a time.” This leads to what she refers to as “an intensely focused state of distraction.” Overwhelmed and feel like you did a lot but didn’t accomplish anything, this may be why.
The chapter that really snuck up on me though was Chapter 8: Your Phone Messes With Your Memory. I realized that for years, I’ve been on the go, packed schedule, working from the road, always connected. Even when I was in meetings, I’d be replying to emails.
Price explains that when our working memory gets overloaded it can’t move working memory to long term memory.
For the last few years I’ve been having these moments when someone would mention a memory of us together and I was stumped because I’d completely forgotten or had no recollection of it. I have been thinking something was wrong with me because “my memory sucked”, particularly fun memories with friends and family. Turns out I was right!
My memory sucked and it was because I was overloading my working memory constantly. I had to come to terms that although I knew that multitasking wasn’t a thing, I’ve always been a juggler.
One to take on ALL.THE.THINGS. And quite frankly, I thrived in it. Turns out, there’s a consequence for that.
My desire to create presence is now anchored in my desire to have meaningful memories.
Part 2: THE BREAK UP
In the second half of the book, Price outlines a 30 day plan to break up with your phone. What I love about this is she doesn’t lob all the hacks and tips into the first week, she makes you thinking first, developing awareness for how you’re using your phone.
She splits the breakup into 4 weeks:
- Technology Triage
- Changing Habits
- Reclaiming your brain
- Your new relationship
The overarching question throughout this section is reminding us that “life is what we pay attention to”, so she consistently reminds you to notice where you’re placing your attention and when specifically you’re pulled to your phone.
Now, I’m also a fan of tangible hacks so I’m sharing with you a few that stood out, but please note that without addressing the bigger issue, the habit changes won’t do much, so if you’re really interested in tackling your relationship with your phone, I recommend downloading the book or checking out Price’s 3 Day Phone Break Up Challenge here.
5 Hacks for Reducing Time on Your Phone:
- Track Your Time – pay attention to your trends, time of day and which apps are sucking your time.
- Set limits – real ones, not pretend ones you’ll just override.
- Charge your phone in another room – give yourself space away from your phone to start and end your day.
- Delete time sucking apps – whether it’s social media or other apps that unexpectedly suck your time, but offer no value to your life.
- Put a physical disruption or a barrier on your phone to break the trance (put your phone in a drawer, wrap a rubber band around it or place it in a small cloth bag).
It’s been a little over a month since I read How to Break Up with Your Phone, and my husband and I just reread it together and are currently working though the 30 day challenge.
I’m not anywhere close to where I want to be in my relationship with my phone, but I can tell you it’s an incredible challenge to strengthen my relationship with my hubby AND I’m noticing so many changes in how I engage (or don’t) with technology.
I’ve already seen my phone usage cut drastically, I haven’t used my phone as an alarm clock in 6 weeks and I LOVE not checking my phone for the first few hours of my day.
I can already see a difference in my creative time with my content in business, but most importantly and shift in presence as a family.
I know this will be a constant challenge for me, but I’m so grateful to have discovered this book at this stage in my business and while my kids are still young.
I believe that the growth and success of your business is highly correlated to where and how you spend your time. I hope this helps you be a little more intentional with yours.
Additional Episode Highlights
Online Business Owner + phone relationship status is complicated
(10:09) As online business owners, I really think this line gets really blurry because we use this mask saying that, ‘Oh, we have to be connected. We have to be available on Facebook. We have to be on Voxer, of course, for our office hours or for our client work. We have to be on Instagram. Oh my goodness, like the only way to post.’ IGTV is on Instagram, which by the way is not true but you can do all those things on your desktop computer, but still we feel the need to be connected.
Social media distraction is a real problem
(11:04) When we’re on social media, we are hounded with so much information. Our phones and these apps are designed to be addicted, to hold our attention, so the novelty, there’s another newness, there’s always something flashing, always something to look at, always somebody to catch our attention, which means we’re constantly moving from thing to thing, to thing, to thing, which is why we go down those rabbit holes.
What we lack in those moments when we’re on our phone is any kind of intentional focus. We don’t really dive into something very deep. And when we do, usually we’re still distracted by all the peripherals around it, that it doesn’t hold our attention and we don’t retain what we just watched or read.
How to cut through noise in social media?
(12:05) You have to have a voice and a message that’s going to pierce through and hold someone’s attention.. to engage people and move the conversation and relationships out of the smartphone.
The real issue behind smartphones..
(00:01) It’s the relationship we have with our phones that is becoming the issue. That’s what’s making us unfocused, ineffective, caught up in the imposter syndrome and self-doubt, and all the negative swirling things that contribute as gasoline on the fire of the entrepreneurial roller coaster.
In assessing your relationship with your phone..
(22:02) You can talk about personal, so your relationships, your mental presence with your family, those types of things. Or you can put it into your business buckets, meaning how is your connection with your phone truly helping your business? Are you really using it for deep, meaningful connection to put out quality content? Or are you spending the majority of your time absorbing other people’s stuff? Or are you just mindlessly checking without any ownership of saying, how did I spend the last five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes?
How smartphones are killing our attention spans?
(25:50) With working memory, the more information you cram in, the less likely you’ll remember it. I want you to think about if you’re juggling your to-do list, if you’re juggling multiple projects, multiple tabs open at one time, if you’re on your smartphone and you’re jumping from app to app to app to app, your brain’s working memory is on overdrive. You are far less likely to remember any of the things.
How to track your phone time?
(34:40) If you have an iPhone it’s already embedded into your phone. If you don’t have an iPhone, there’s tons of tracking apps you can do, but here’s the secret guys. You have to track it and don’t make any changes. You have to track it and just notice it. The things that I’m tracking is how much time I spend per day, the top five apps I’m using, how frequently I’m using them. I’m also tracking the what’s the first app I’m using when I pick up my phone. Because when I look at that, it can help me understand, why am I really picking up my phone
Tips on what apps to consider deleting in your phone
(36:58) I want you to really think about what apps you need on your phone and what you don’t need…Challenge you, look through your phone and say, what apps do you really don’t need, or you’re saying you need, but you don’t.
Here’s what to ask yourself when tempted to grab your phone?
(39:35) I want you to ask yourself ‘WWW‘ – what for, why now, what else? So what for, what are you grabbing your phone for? Why, why are you grabbing it right now? And what else could you be doing with this time? This was a really powerful thing for me – what for, why now, what else. Because 9.9 times out of 10, when we grab our phones, it’s not really for a real true purpose.