This is an account of day 6 of the 21-Day Daily Stoic Freedom Challenge, for accounts of other days please click here.
The task for day 6 of the 21-Day Daily Stoic Freedom Challenge is to go a day without your smartphone. Apparently the average user unlocks their phone 80 times per day and uses it for five hours per day. That’s pretty shocking when you think of all the things people complain they don’t have enough time to do. What could we achieve if we put our phones away for a while?
Today’s email from Daily Stoic lays out the task:
Leave your phone at home. Put it in your dresser. Lock it in the glove box of your car. Hide it. Drive to the office and put in on your desk and go two days without it, if you feel so brave. Just put some serious hours and distance between you and your phone.
See what life is like untethered, unfiltered. Free from the dopamine drip of likes and shares and hearts and pings and notifications. A drip that we sometimes forget is not free. It comes with a cost. Not just distraction but a cascade of cortisol frying our brains and distorting our perception of the world.
And vividly explains why day 6 of the challenge is so important:
To put it bluntly, our smartphones are destroying our health, our relationships, our lives. Nothing is as urgent as we’d like to think it is. Most breaking news only breaks our spirit. The news itself doesn’t matter. Most texts and emails and calls can wait. If someone really needs to reach you, they’ll track you down. It’s going to be OK.
Seneca wrote constantly about time. One of his most compelling observations was about how people are protective of their money, their property, their possessions, yet careless with the one thing they can’t get back. “It’s not that we have a short time to live,” he said, “but that we waste a lot of it.”
This was a difficult one for me, as I’m sure it was for most others. These days, it’s taken for granted that everyone is pretty much instantaneously contactable via their phone, and if you haven’t answered a text within a short space of time then something must be wrong. The other issue is the use of phones for work – being without it all day could lead to problems the next day if a superior can’t reach you, for example.
I decided a more realistic challenge for today would be limiting the use of my smartphone to only responding to incoming calls and texts, while avoiding the use of other time-sapping apps. So, no social media, no news, no YouTube, no web browsing, etc…
For the most part, I did okay with this but I had to really be on guard to catch myself when I mindlessly lifted my phone to unlock it with the intention of opening up Twitter or Instagram. Using the below picture as my phone’s wallpaper did help though 🙂
I also managed to leave my phone at home when I went for a run which felt like a small victory. Overall, however, today didn’t feel like a success in terms of the challenge. But like the other days, it’s something I’d like to keep trying on a regular basis with the intention of eventually going a full day with no phone at all.
Checking the challenge’s group Slack channel (on computer!), Alex (who is recovering from knee surgery) had already thought of ways to use the extra free time:
Going without a smart phone will be challenging as I use it a lot to alleviate boredom during recovery. But I have a couple of books to read and time to nap! Will give it a try!
Hope everyone is hanging in there! Everything here seems simple – but difficult to do.
While James crystallised the difficulty of today’s task effectively:
A day without the phone; this one will be tough
For social things like arranging with friends where to meet and what time, and professional things like keeping a boss up-to-date on a piece of work, a phone is hard to go without for a full day. I’d like to tackle over-use of apps first before trying to progress to regularly going full days “offline”.