Over the last three months, I’ve been trying to get my life in order, throwing out the things I don’t want/like/need, part middle-aged decluttering and part long-term strategy to go on offense against depression. I’ve already given up alcohol, caffeine, and sweets. My next target: mindless phone use.
So when Lollygagger mentioned How to Break Up with Your Phone in a Pajiba comment, I knew it was going to the top of my BUY IT NOW list. She reviewed it here on CBR the day that I bought my copy, and I’ve resisted reading her full review until after I’ve written mine, curious to see how our independent takes line up.
I was immediately drawn in by Price’s framing the process as she would a break up of a romantic relationship, noting that just because we’re not meant to be together forever doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends. I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to an old-school flip phone for awhile, but then my work decided to require multi-factor authentication to log on to our computers. Ugh. But let’s be honest: I wasn’t giving up my smartphone anyway.
The research geek in me loved the first section where Price talks about why we should consider a breakup, and she confirmed a lot of the things I’d already noticed. My memory is crap. My attention span is nil. I’ve lost control of how I spend my time. And this is all still true more than a year after I deleted my Facebook account. Toward the end of this section, she mentions Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and it all came together. My ex suggested that book years ago, and it’s become that seminal work that pops up in everything else that I read. I’m totally in at this point.
As I started into the second section, the real How-To guts of the book, I thought about not finishing the book. She advocates a stepped-approach, and that’s not really my style. I’ve been far more successful with cold turkey in giving up other vices and distractions, and I figure that’s what I’ll have to do here. Obviously, true cold turkey isn’t an option here, so I kept reading.
Very early in the How-To section, she said the magic words: “You should feel free to use this guide any way you want.” Notice how she didn’t insist that her way is the only way. Big thumbs up to that.
I’ve already started using some of her ideas. I’ve banned my phone from the bedroom. I’ve turned off email notifications. I’ve cleaned up and rearranged the apps on my phone. I’ve started paying more attention to what I feel when I get the urge to pick up my phone, what I do when I’m using it, and how I feel after I’ve put it down. And I’ve come around to her idea of the stepped approach. As much as I’d rather shut it off entirely, there’s no reason to set myself up for failure.
All in all, this book was a winner for me.