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5 Ways To Survive a Week Without a Phone

Most of us all have one common problem — we're obsessed with our phones. I must admit that I fall into this category myself. When I was a senior in high school, I noticed that my average screen time was reaching over three hours a day. I felt disgusted with myself, knowing these hours were being wasted on unproductive apps, but I didn’t do anything about this until February of my freshman year of college. I was overwhelmed with juggling deadlines, maintaining relationships, and trying to figure out what I was doing with my life, so I decided to turn off my phone for the day.

I occasionally reached down to check my phone throughout the first couple of hours, but that urge faded away. After a full day of surviving without my phone, I decided to go another day. And then another day. After about two weeks without my phone, my best friend at FSU tracked down my roommate and DMed her to make sure that I was still alive. I couldn’t explain why I didn’t want to turn my phone back on, but being disconnected from technology was so freeing. Ever since then, I still occasionally turn my phone off for a day to a week. My average screen time is no longer three hours, but fifty minutes at the most. Many of my friends think I’m crazy, but they also reveal that they are jealous, wishing they could have the self-control to turn off their phones as well. After asking these friends what their average daily screen time was, some of them were shocked to find out that they reached over seven hours, and they were more willing to listen to the method behind my technology-rejecting madness.

So, to anyone who may be trying to kick an obsessive phone-checking habit or simply wants to spend more time in the moment rather than fixated on a screen, here are some tips that I've used to help me forget about my devices for a while.

Revist an old hobby that you used to love

As I get older, I find myself losing more and more hobbies that I used to love because I “don’t have enough time.” However, I found that I had plenty of time to pick up hobbies with all the free time I now had after dropping the devices. I practiced my guitar, I read those books that I had been putting off, and I even got back into painting, which I hadn’t done since I left performing arts school. I found that these activities not only felt fulfilling but also left me much happier than I would be after racking up my screen time.

Let go of the belief that you “need it”

I thought the same thing that you are probably thinking — “but I need my phone for…” While a phone is beneficial in the long-term, it is not a tool that you need every day. Trust me. Do you need it to check the time? Ask someone around you for the time, use that watch that’s been collecting dust in your drawer for years, or refer to the clock on your wall. Do you need it to talk to your friends or family? They will be there when you turn your phone back on. Tell them that you’re taking a break from your screen for a couple of days. 

Spend some time outside

Although turning off your phone may seem like you are losing your connection to society, it actually creates the opposite effect. When the distractions are put aside, you’re able to spend more time around people and coexist in the world. Go for a run, walk your dog, or hammock at your local park. You will see more people than you would on your feed, and you will have a greater sense of belonging.

Get ahead on your work

I constantly find myself distracted by my texts or social media when I’m supposed to be finishing work for my classes. A paper that was supposed to take an hour ends up taking two and I end up wasting precious time in the process. When I don’t have my phone, I don't have the urge to give myself a break every five minutes and I end up not even worrying about the texts I received while I was writing. Since I am finishing assignments faster, it's easier to get ahead on work and not stress about fast-approaching deadlines.

Spend time with unfamiliar faces (after quarantine)

Since you lose the ability to ask friends to hang out via text, focus on the people in your neighborhood that you don’t have to text to talk to. Bake a pie for the couple across the street, go to Taco Tuesday with your neighbor, cut the grass for the elderly man down the street. Losing your phone does not mean that you must lose your connection to people too.

Overall, I hope that that this list at least shows you that it's possible to function without your phone for a couple of days or even a week. As the start of the fall semester begins, I encourage you to attempt to ignore your phone for even a day and see the positive impacts it can have on your life.

Rachael is a senior at the University of Central Florida and is majoring in Secondary English Education. When she isn’t daydreaming about moving to Colorado or joining the Peace Corps, you can probably find her hammocking, reading memoirs, or planning her next road trip. You can follow her on Instagram at @rachaelscheck.
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