Breaking my addiction is harder than I thought.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am trying to limit my smartphone use.  It’s the first habit I am trying to kick as I better myself over the next year or so.  

It’s harder than I thought.  It’s amazing how often I reach for it and then have to stop and remind myself that I am not doing “that” anymore.  Truth be told, I am having a lot of trouble with it.  I am so used to multitasking that simply sitting in traffic, waiting at the stop sign or hanging out with my family seems too simple and unencumbered. 

It also amazes me how much of an addiction it actually is.  For me, the hardest time to avoid checking my phone is after I have exited off the highway.  My highway drive is about an hour.  I exit and immediately have a very long traffic light.  This is one of the hardest times for me to stay true to breaking this habit.  I fidget.  I check my hair.  I drink some water.  I look in the rearview.  The only problem with looking in the rearview is that the guy or girl behind me is inescapably checking his or her phone!  The first time this happened, I felt like a smoker having a nic-fit.  But after a few more drives like that, I think I have beat that traffic light.  I know work is only 5 minutes from that spot and I keep telling myself I can wait 5 more minutes.  

About a week in though, I knew I needed help to kick this habit, especially in the evenings when I am at home.  So I enlisted my 7 year old.  I told him to “catch me” if I was on my phone in the evenings or in the car.  Trust me, he is taking his job very seriously.  Whenever I touch it, he says, “You said no phone”.  I usually fight the urge to shoot him a dirty look and then put my phone away feeling only a little sheepish.

I have found a few other tricks to make it easier too.  First, as soon as I get in the car, I check my phone one last time before I start driving.  Then I put it on silent.  It is much easier to ignore it if I don’t constantly hear it beeping at me about an incoming text or email. 

Next, I started listening to audio cds on my long drives.  I had always kind of discounted the idea of listening to “books on tape”.  I always preferred music to listening to podcasts or the news.  I blast my music and sing along.  I accepted the fact that I would probably need hearing aids in my old age.  It’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.  Then a friend gave me a couple of audio books.  I half-heartedly started listening to one and you know what?  I am hooked.  I look forward to an uninterrupted drive so I can listen to my cd.  It’s made ignoring my cellphone much easier indeed.  In fact, when someone calls on the Bluetooth, I am often annoyed that they’ve interrupted my listening.

So I would say overall, my cell phone usage has decreased. I am focusing on this for one more week to firmly entrench the new behavior.  Keeping my fingers crossed and off my phone:)