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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 analogue clock in the house and my parents used analogue watches.
As I grew up, mobile phones entered our lives and now we can 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. At some point though, in my mid-twenties, I relied on my phone to tell the time and completely forgot about my analogue 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, smartphones were invented. And with them, all sorts of applications. And I was still using the phone to tell the time 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 for 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. And it all started with me wanting to find out what the time was. This went on and on, every single day.
Until one day when I said “Stop!”. Just like that.
I decided to do something and somehow spend less time on my phone. I went to a drawer and I took out the watch. Deciding to ignore all notifications when looking at the phone might’ve helped too, but you know how curiosity works. I wanted to play it safe. With my watch in my hands, I placed new batteries (obviously the old ones had worn out a long 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.
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 to make this change in order to spend less time on your phone. Use a watch. A simple analogue one, not a digital sophisticated smart one. After a week, come back and let me know how the experiment is going. I am 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).