When I learned how to tell the time, there were no mobile phones (though there were computers, as I am not THAT old). We had an analog clock in the house and my parents used analog watches.
As I grew up, the mobile phones entered into my life and I could use them to know what time it is. I can’t really remember my first mobile as I was never really fond of this technology, but I do know that at some point, in my mid twenties, I relaid on my phone to tell the time and I completely forgot about my analog watch. I had my phone everywhere at any time, in the pocket of my jeans, and I used it to find out this precious information: what time it was.
Then, the smartphones were invented. And with them, all sorts of applications. And I was still using the phone instead of a watch.
Last week I was more aware of this fact and I just noticed how telling the time could “eat up” a few hours of the 24 a day has.
Waking up: Oh, good morning! The sun is up, let me see what time it is, where is my phone? Oh, look, 5 emails and 3 WhatsApp messages, let me see! (and 30 minutes just went by)
Having a coffee with friends: I paid the parking until 11, let me see what time it is now. Oh, Facebook notifications, I wonder what they say, excuse me for one minute! (and 5-10 minutes just went by)
At the swings with the kids: We have to leave soon, let me see what time it is! A text message, 7 emails and 3 WhatsApp message! What did I miss?! Let me have a quick look! (and 30 minutes – or more, depending on how much the kids loved the swing that day – went by)
At the end of the day, I had spent hours (that’s a lot of time!) with my eyes glued to the phone just because I just wanted to find out what time it was. And this went on and on, with every time I looked at the phone to tell the time.
Until one day when I said “Stop!”. Just like that. I went to a drawer and I took out the watch. I could have decided to ignore all notifications when looking at the phone, but you know how curiosity works, so I wanted to play it safe. With my watch in my hands, I placed new batteries (obviously the old ones had worn out a loooong time ago) and put the watch next to my house keys so that when I go out, I don’t forget to put the watch on my wrist.
Four days have passed since I made the decision to go back to my watch. And I have to tell you that I managed to spend a total of around 15 minutes on my phone. Per day that is! I check my phone way less often than I used to and no, I don’t feel like I am missing something. Anything that happens can be read at certain times during the day, decided by me, not by my need to tell the time. If something urgent comes up, I will surely find out instantly. In the evening I get to my laptop and I get up-to-date with everything. And during the day I can really be more present in my life, the real one, and I am more aware of the present moment.
I challenge you to try this if you used to do what I did. I challenge you to go back to your watch. A simple analog one, not a digital sophisticated smart one. After a week, come back and let me know how the experiment went. I will be curious to find out though I might not read the comment as soon as it is written (don’t take it personally, I just don’t check my phone that often lately)!