Stay Mindful by Using a Smartphone Purposefully

In this post, I discuss ways to lead a more mindful lifestyle by using technology as a tool rather than as entertainment.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

Mr. Trekker and I are pretty good about not being glued to our phones.  We have a standing rule at our house that there are no phones at the dinner table (with the exception of emergencies/family situations or, sometimes, when making travel plans on the run).  We’ve actually had strangers comment to us (in a good way) how unusual it is to see two people sitting together at a restaurant just talking to each other, with neither of us being on our phones.  They always seem so impressed.  I hope, by this small act, I can inspire other people to use their smartphones purposefully, as well.

My Week Without a Smartphone

A while back, I lost the use of my phone for almost a week. 😮   I was reminded of what life was like before we all had computers at our fingertips at all times. 😂   It was due to this weird situation where Verizon pushed an update through and that basically “broke” my cellular ability.  So I could use apps when I was connected to a WiFi network, but that was it.  I couldn’t make any phone calls AT ALL (which is ironic since wasn’t that the whole point of having phones to begin with?!)  After troubleshooting several things I decided that my phone was shot.

Fortunately, I have a warranty so I was able to get a free replacement from Apple.  It was the same, old model I already had, and it had a crappy camera that took pictures with pink backgrounds 🙄  but at least it worked.  I didn’t want to spend the money on a whole new phone at the time (we had literally just bought one for Mr. Trekker a few weeks before) so this was a good enough replacement.

On a personal note, my local Verizon store was FAR more helpful in dealing with this issue than Apple was over the phone. (The nearest Apple store is almost 400 miles away, in Denver).  I’ve had good luck with Apple customer service in the past, but the Verizon store won this round!  Apple seemed somewhat confused as to what exactly was wrong with the phone.  Even though they told me not to bother with the local store because “the carriers don’t deal with this issue” Verizon was able to understand my problem and diagnose it almost immediately.  This potentially saved me $100’s in replacement costs!

Remember the days before Smartphones?

It was weird to be thrown back to a life without a smartphone.  I appreciated the break from the constant temptation to check social media or email while doing mundane things like standing in line at the store.  I did feel very isolated though, and cut-off from the world.  I could contact people via Facebook Messenger if I had a WiFi signal, but I couldn’t text.  We haven’t had a landline phone in over a decade so, even at home, I realized I had no way to make a call to 911 if it was needed (fortunately it wasn’t).  It was humbling and frustrating.

Part of me would love to throw all this tech-garbage away and just go back to an old-fashioned “dumb” phone.  I used to love my old flip phones, where I could send a quick text message or write a simple note to myself.  I could even take the occasional picture (if it was REALLY important because they were EXPENSIVE!)  I could *gasp!* call someone (or have them call me) if we needed to get in touch.  I really miss those simple days, they feel so 2006-ish! (Yeah, I didn’t get a cell phone of any kind until after I graduated college in 2005, told ya I was old-school! 😉)

How to Use a Smartphone Mindfully

Smartphones do have their benefits.  They’re pretty handy when I’m away from my computer and need to make an update to my blog or handle other work-related business.  Basically my entire livelihood is made via the internet so having access to my blog, social media and email (let alone old school phone calls) from almost anywhere means I can be far more productive with my freelance work (and it gives me far more freedom to be away from home–the office).

I read the book Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport, recently as research for another project I’m working on.  It was a very interesting read!  I’d recommend this for anyone who feels technology has too much control over their life.  In it, he stresses using technology, such as phones and social media, as minimally as possible to pursue more fulfilling things in life.  I don’t feel like I struggle as much as many of the people he discusses in the book, so I didn’t feel the need to implement all of his strategies.  However, the book did help me to structure my free-time better and prioritize things I really care about.

I pride myself on not being a technophile, but this book really brought home to me the importance of using technology as a tool rather than as a device for entertainment. (It made me think we should view it almost like a pen or a drill, that is needed solely to complete a task.)

As an example, rather than scrolling through my Twitter or Facebook feed, I strive to only check a few, individual people who I follow.  This helps me stay up-to-date with family and friends who live far away.  I also check a few, specific, news sites so that I remain in-the-know on current events.  There are also a few, individual groups that I am a part of that help me to achieve my blogging and writing goals (I rank these under Professional Development).  That’s it.  If I’m not using my phone or social media for those purposes, I try not to use it at all.  There are always other free-time options to pursue.  I’ve got a stack of books I’m working my way through, I’m also still enjoying the Star Wars, adult coloring book Mr. Trekker got me for Christmas several years ago, and I’ve got other projects to keep me busy.

Our lives are hectic enough!  I challenge you to look for ways to reduce your smartphone use.  Maybe instead you could interact with some flesh-and-blood humans 😉; take a walk, read a book or go throw a baseball with your kiddo (or a tennis ball for your pup!)  Let’s try to be more mindful and purposeful when using our smartphones!

What do you think?  Have you seen any benefit from being more mindful with the use of your phone?  Let me know in the comments!

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Do you find yourself constantly reaching for your phone? Read on for ways to be more mindful and use your smartphone purposefully.


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2 thoughts on “Stay Mindful by Using a Smartphone Purposefully”

  1. Interesting article! I don’t have my phone during the day so sometimes I enjoy the disconnect that brings even if it is inconvenient sometimes! Even with this time apart from my phone, I definitely still overuse it though!

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