A buddy of mine recently asked me what are in my experience some of the benefits of not checking my phone past a certain time at night. I had told him I limit my phone use after 6pm. I have a lot to say on the topic of limiting phone use. So here goes:
First thing, my life has changed drastically for the better since I’ve started being very serious about limiting my phone use.
One of the biggest moves I’ve made is that I DO NOT bring my phone into my bedroom.
Pretty much ever. Unless I’m listening to a podcast and just grabbing something real quick. Since I got my phone out of my room I have been sleeping better than I have at any other point in my life.
This decision and other moves were inspired by a little tidbit a friend shared with me: Sleeping is a skill. You can get better at it. Or you can suck at it. I have friends who can fall asleep in 30 seconds. I always thought it was genes and I’d never be able to do that. I was wrong. You can be better at sleeping and considering that you need sleep otherwise you will die - I figure it’s something worth trying to be good at it.
Another recent move I have made is to always have my phone on “do not disturb”.
I told this to a friend after he tried calling and couldn’t reach me a couple times. His reaction was funny. He was concerned for me like I was shutting myself off from the world and life. I found this ironic because I’ve found that the exact opposite is true. My phone, maybe your phone, is a distraction box. It distracts me from doing the things I value and want to do. I have a richer life not being tethered to my phone at all times. We all have that friend who can’t stop staring at their efffffing phone long enough to hang out. You know the ‘ole hang up and hangout. This is a problem. I think we are all suffering and It makes me sad because most people seem totally unaware of what’s happening around them. I personally think smart phones are one of the biggest health risks facing my generation (I’m a millennial, shocker). More and more research will come out that shows how detrimental the use of smart phones is and has been to our society. Literally kids have grown horns on the backs of their heads from the posture you assume while staring at screens. Read about that here.
The most valuable type of communication is face to face. FaceTime is great. Email is okay. Text is okay. These are tools. They are very helpful and have advanced our society and productivity by a great measure. However, you were not ever meant to be on call at all times. Some folks, seem to think they can reach out and get a hold of you whenever they want. Then they get upset when you don’t respond as quickly as they would have liked. This is stupid. I don’t owe you my attention. You don’t owe anyone your attention. If it’s not an emergency it can wait. No. Really. It can wait.
I pay close attention to the “Screen Time” utility on my iPhone.
I am so glad Apple included this in one of their recent updates. I gotta admit my initial results and data shown were frightening. If I remember correctly, I was picking my phone up like 50 - 80 times a day and was on my phone for over two hours a day. At first I ignored it, but it came to a point where I decided I can’t get what I want out of life If I’m sinking 14 hours a week on my phone. You’d be surprised how little time you actually NEED to spend on your phone every day.
Back to phones before bed. I have found that it takes me longer to fall asleep if I have had any screen time within an hour and a half of the time I try to fall asleep. On Sunday and Monday this week I watched NFL football. These games ended around 10:30pm. I then tried to fall asleep around 11:30pm and guess what… I did not sleep very well and it took me longer than normal to fall asleep. It didn’t help that I lost my fantasy football playoff match and my real life team got their butts kicked.
In the evenings is when I like to spend my leisure time. I usually am hanging out with friends or cooking dinner, watching a ‘sode’, playing guitar, etc… What I'm not doing is looking at my phone. I am not one of those music professionals who works 16 hour days and then has a mental breakdown and torches their entire life. When I am done working, I am done working. I don’t check email in the evenings because I know that if I see something that needs my attention I’m going to stress about it. It’s also almost never an emergency and can wait until the morning. But once the email has been opened I won’t be able to get what I will have to do out of my head. So I don’t check that shit until the next day.
IMO managing screen time, phone usage, & social media is especially important for artists and people who work in music.
I think artists are presented with unique challenges when it comes to using technology. Many artists feel that they have to be all singing and all dancing - masters of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, email marketing, etc… We are forced to jump from one multibillion dollar company that spends tens of millions to capture your attention, to the next multibillion dollar company that spends tens of millions to capture your attention, to the next. It’s toxic. It consumes too much of our time. It’s not good. It’s V bad. If you are an artist you have songs in you that Instagram and Facebook want to keep you from writing so that they can hold and monetize your attention. Don’t let them do it. Schedule out the time you spend on social media. I repeat: Schedule out the time you spend on social media. Otherwise it will devour you Haunting of Hill House style.
If you are interested in diving deeper into this topic reach out and we can chat. Here are some resources I have found extremely helpful:
This book changed my life: Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
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This article is incredible. The author, Coach Tony from the Better Humans blog, went super in depth into “how to configure your iPhone to work for you, not against you”.