About a year ago, I came across an interview with Simon Sinek in which he spoke (as he passionately does) about cellphone addiction; not necessarily social media addiction but addiction to the device itself. I pondered my own relationship to my device and, upon speaking at a few high schools, took note of the increasing connected behaviours between teens and their phones.
Using the advice offered by Sinek, I decided to leave my phone out of my bedroom. This meant not using it as an alarm, not keeping it by my bedside, not using it as an e-reader. Nothing. It simply was no longer allowed in the room. Taking notice of the fact that I wasted the most time during the first and last hours of the day (often I would wake up to my alarm at 7, only to lie in my bed, surfing the net until 8 or 8:30), I realized that the best way in which to curb a potential technology addiction and maximize on my potential for the day was to remove the problem device in question from the equation.
My number one fear was the thing I assume we all fear: but what if there is an emergency? Certainly, this is a fear worth considering–and you may be inclined to, rather than eliminate your device from your room entirely, keep it at a reasonable distance, instead (the other side of the room perhaps). However, what I’ve found, after a year of keeping my phone charging in my living room — emergencies are rare if they happen. And the fear of them happening is not a good enough reason, in my opinion, to tether yourself to a piece of technology. We lasted decades (nay, centuries) without them, we can do it again.
But, my phone is my alarm. I went out and grabbed a proper alarm clock for less than $15, Canadian. The shrill sound of my clock is also a better motivator to get out of bed.
What I have found, after a year of a phone-less bedroom, is that I’m checking social media in the morning and night a lot less. Considerably less. Those two hours become my time and they are no longer influenced by the problems, concerns, questions or inquiries of the outside world. In the morning, I am able to meditate, exercise and cook a proper breakfast without being bogged down by texts, Facebook notifications or Instagram likes (all of which slow down your pace — something you will immediately notice when you unplug for an hour or two). At night, I find myself unplugging from technology a solid hour or so before bed. I read a book, drink a tea, play the piano. In other words, I focus my mind and energy on something other than a digital screen. And I find my sleep is better for it.
Whether you are in high school, the work force or in some other part of your life, I encourage you to try a day or two without your phone at your bedside table. See how it feels and if you find it feels good, keep doing it. A healthy habit will develop in the meantime. I am not one to suggest cutting out social media and technology entirely. I believe they are an important part of our growth as a species. But moderation is always key and that, at the end of the day, is what this article is all about.
Own your first and last hours of the day. Do not surrender them to your news feed. Take back control, simply by forgetting to bring your phone with you to bed.