Digital Minimalism Experiment #1: 22 Hours of Airplane Mode
In a quest to become as phone-independent as possible, I have deleted my entertainment apps, bought a smartwatch for phone-free workouts, and tried several other tactics to reduce my phone usage. These changes have already improved my life, as I continue the search for the optimal digital minimalism strategy.
This summer, I decided to do a set of four experiments designed to challenge my typical phone habits. Right now, while I have the same schedule every day and don’t have to meet up with people regularly, it is the perfect time for me to try some extreme digital minimalism and find some habits that I may be able to incorporate into my life once things return to normal.
My first 30 day challenge was setting specific times for checking my phone. The rules were as follows:
1. My phone must remain on airplane mode except for my break after lunch and between 9pm and 10pm (the hour before I start my bedtime routine).
2. Outside those hours, I can use my phone only to take photos or to listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or music while cooking, driving, exercising, or cleaning.
3. Additionally, I will only check my email (which I already took off my phone several years ago) after my first hour of work each day and then one more time after dinner.
This challenge certainly helped to decrease my phone dependence. Before I started following the new rules, I think the thought that someone might text me would motivate me to carry my phone around all day. But most days during this experiment, I would forget about my phone and leave it at my desk.
Being less accessible wasn’t always appreciated by friends and family though. Occasionally, someone would ask me an important question, and I wouldn’t be able to respond to them until much later in the day. Furthermore, I had hoped that only checking my phone twice a day would make me more intentional about responding to people (one of my bad habits is telling myself “I’ll respond later”), but I continued to postpone my responses for up to several days at times.
Finally, the few times each day when I was able to turn my phone off airplane mode often caused a bit of anxiety. I had no idea what to expect, and there could have been a scary text that I had missed, or even worse, no messages at all.
Next time, I will be spending 30 days with my phone tethered to one location in my house.