He who eats until he is sick must fast until he is well. That’s what an English proverb says. But I would rather suggest you to fast until you reach the point when you perfectly know how to start a diet.
Let me explain what I mean.
Every day we are overwhelmed by so much information.
If you’re like me and a lot of other people in this world – and if your life is similar to mine and theirs -, you are probably surrounded by thousands of stimuli: rivers of news constantly flow over your steps coming mostly from the Internet, TV and radio, and making you sick. Be careful, this can leave you flood-damaged!
It is called information overload.
Your brain is not made to process this whole amount of information. You can surely do it, but it gives you a lot of stress and, in the end, what will be left of the information we didn’t have enough time to give real value to?
And now, let’s talk about time.
Take a minute to think about how much time you spend in contact with the information sources. The fingers of one hand are sadly too less to count the hours! How many goals you could accomplish if you cut those activities out of your life.
And now think that there is one device that, more than the others, is taking possession of your life: yes, you are right if you are thinking about your smartphone.
By approaching the Zen philosophy, you are asked to embrace simplicity in order to make your existence better. And for doing that, all you have to do implies three important steps: taking time to think, noticing how your life can really change and, eventually, planning what and how to edit your life in order to break your bad habits. But don’t be scared and tune out yet, as – I can guess – lots of you are using the smartphone. This can really be a way to handle and solve our issue: smartphone addiction.
Let’s start by saying that it won’t be easy. But it will be worth it. You’ll get better over time, and more motivated after seeing the first positive results.
_The First Step
The first step is the most difficult one: to be able to think, you need to take time and for doing it you have to temporary disconnect. That’s what we call the fasting period. Just like a fast, you are supposed to live your life without your smartphone, without checking the e-mails and the messages from your online subscriptions (it sounds unbelievably impossible, but it is not!). It is a kind of medical therapy for the life-worsening condition you are stuck in.
It is undoubtedly hard as you are asked to give up on something that has become part of your daily life.
Start small. Here are my tips for you.
- If you can’t go without your phone, try using less applications. Uninstall apps you never use, you will be surprised how much junk you can find in your storage. Cut away your messenger app for a day, then add another one to your no-list. Add as many as possible.
- Try reducing the time you use your phone. Leave it at home when you go out with your kids for a walk or to meet a friend in a restaurant. Keep it inside the drawer during lunch hour to have a talk with a colleague. Allow yourself to touch it only for 3 hours a day, 2 hours a day, 1 hour a day. You’ll be amazed how easy it is. There will be so much real life to distract you.
- Try a specific time during your day. While in the previous tip you are allowed to use your phone in a total of a fixed time a day, try now to have this fixed time during a specific part of your day. Try using your phone only in the morning before work, after putting the groceries away when you come home after going to the supermarket, or after putting the dishes in the dishwasher. Stick to it.
- Keep track of your time. You will be shocked when you will see at the end of a day or a week (let’s not talk about a month) how much time you wasted. Track the time you spend with the smartphone in your hands and write it down in a spreadsheet. Trust me, it will be jaw dropping and, somehow, scary.
- Master-fast. You are now ready for the highest level. You feel well prepared for what is ahead of you: a day without your phone. Not challenging enough anymore? Try a week! Try a month. You go, man!
_The Second Step
It is when you find yourself drastically into another dimension of living that you start thinking and meditating about what has changed. Welcome to the second step! There will be some struggles but, if you stay strong and keep on doing it, you will succeed. Living without your smartphone will allow you to open up yourself to new challenges and new experiences. Try to think what this personally means for you. You can even write everything down.
- How did my productivity change?
- Was I able to get more things done?
- Did I spend more time with my family and friends?
- Did I have more time for myself and goals I wanted to accomplish since so long?
- Do I feel less stressed?
- Did someone else notice a change?
- How did I fill the time I usually spent with my phone?
Your findings can be shocking, funny and relieving all at once.
There are people around you that you never noticed (maybe this cute girl or boy who just started working in your office), you finally had the time to meet up with an old friend, you got to know new people to go out with, on your way to work you met a group of fans of your favorite football team on the train and went to a match together with them, you found books in your shelf that someone gave to you for Christmas 5 years ago and you found a new favorite author, you discovered your old hobbies again and explored nature more frequently, you finally got to spend more time with your children – and the list goes on and on. You will be able to fully enjoy every moment being in contact with the others and, maybe, your friends will be so inspired by you to start the project their own – and you will be there to encourage them as well to think about the meaning of their lives.
You fill up the time you usually spent with media in a more healthy and personal way. This is great, celebrate your success!
_The Third Step
Now it’s the right time to talk about what and how. Like newspaper editors, you have to learn to edit brutally and cut out everything that’s not necessary: that’s the only way to make the meaningful story come up.
But is it even possible? Yes, it is. Here are some ideas: you have to dive into it, with no fear, and try; this way you will find out what the right method for you really is.
- Start again. Once your fast is over, re-think your smartphone intake. You may discover that cutting it out in the evening, for example, isn’t as hard as you thought, and that it helps you getting a lot of things done. Instead of allowing yourself to dive right back into your old smartphone habits, use your device more thoughtfully from now on. Shutting off the rivers of information that come at you every day will give you peace of mind. Spending time without your smartphone will help you focusing more and longer.
- Set specific goals. It is not because we are talking about smartphone addiction, that you can feel free to replace one device with another time-waster, such as computer, tablet or TV. Set a goal that you would like to accomplish in that day, or that week, and work hard on it. Be specific about how you want to spend your time and stick to your schedule, like your learned it during your fasting time. As the days go by, you will surely notice that you can use the time, you would normally spend on media, to accomplish actions that further your goals. Ask yourself which mistakes you made and how your addiction tried to possess you again.
- Listen to what your body says. As we stated in the beginning, it is not in fasting and refusing blindly the power of smartphones; it is in knowing how to take control (and not letting it take control) and starting a healthy diet, for your body, for your mind and for your relationships. And, while doing it, listen to your body, how it reacts and how it develops. It speaks louder than what you imagine!
The third step will show how you changed inside. At that point you will be able to take decisions and finally change the outside, starting from your habits and your relationships.
We hope this introduction will help. Please feel free to let us know your tips and tricks and give us a review on how this fasting affected you. And if we didn’t manage to convince you, at the end of this post, well at least… give it a try!