Sunday, April 20, 2014

I need a smartphone intervention

Now that I have this list of things I want to write about, I'm feeling a little bit scattered as I approach the keyboard during today's little slice of freedom (our awesome babysitter is here for a 2-hour stint!).  Today I've been ruminating more about changing certain life-sucking habits, and in particular my rather lame iPhone addiction.  The saddest part?  I KNEW this would happen back in 2011 when I first acquired the thing, and I didn't want it to.    And yet . . .

I hate that I stare at that screen before going to bed.

I hate that I feel compelled to answer texts as soon as they come in.

I hate that sometimes the thing somehow makes it to the dinner table.

I hate that I am distracted by it even when watching TV.

I hate that I pick it up while at the playground with A+C, or while doing other things with them.  It IS great for catching photos/videos on the run, but it's too easy to go from camera to email to facebook to godknowswhat.

I even hate that I scroll around on worthless sites while breastfeeding.  It makes sense (since it really is hard to do much else during that time, and it's a LOT of time), but sometimes feels unsavory.  

The thing is:  the damn thing is useful.  I use it to check the weather, get directions, pick a restaurant, plan date nights, order our diapers, and even sometimes blog.  I like checking in occasionally to facebook, to see pictures of my friends' cute kids or live vicariously through my still-single-and-carefree crowd.   I like keeping up with my favorite blogs via feedly.  I love using it to listen to podcasts in the car, and even use it as a handy e-reader at times. And obviously, I need it for work (particularly when on call).  

But despite all this, I recognize that my attachment to this rather amazing technology has gotten out of hand.  First, I don't want Annabel (or eventually, little C) to model this behavior, and there is no way I can expect her to develop self-control in this arena if I am not capable of practicing it myself.  Second, I feel like all of this activity is just taking a toll on actually . . . LIVING.  Time is too precious to waste on scanning rather worthless content and responding mindlessly to the the pavlovian bleep of the inbox or text.

ANYWAY.  I really, truly feel the need to unplug and break free, but I'm not sure how.  I've tried to set limits for myself, but the piece of !$*&@ is just incredibly addictive (I'm sure there are studies on this, or if not there will be soon!).  I suppose that maybe -- just like someone addicted to cigarettes or fast food -- I just need to keep trying, and one day hope that I use the right combination of methods.  The tough part is that absolute iPhone abstinence isn't a reasonable or even desirable goal.  I just want to use it in a way that feels right.  And I feel like I'll know what that is, if I can get there.

Potential strategies to employ:

* Accountability.  Announce to family (and/or you all?) how I'm doing every day.  As in:  was I able to leave the thing plugged in except for discrete periods and/or when I actually needed it for something useful or purposefully enjoyable (ie, a podcast in the car)?

* Replacement activity.  Come up with SOMETHING ELSE (read a really addictive book?) to do when the urges hit.

* Negative reinforcement.  Use a website like StickK (I read about this on the Happiness Project blog) to create a financial disincentive (ie, $X goes to a designated family member or friend if I can't meet goals)

?????? I'm at a loss here.

It's so funny -- I consider myself a pretty disciplined person, but this is one area where I continually struggle.  Does anyone identify with this or have any tips?  I'm all ears. 

(But I'll try not to check the comments to see your answers every 5 minutes.)


A few weekend highlights:

passover brunch @ bebe & poppy's 
(unpictured, because thankfully I at least spent a few minutes unplugged :) )

date night @ a lebanese restaurant in bay harbor
(a. was a welcome photobomb)
((my hair is kind of a mess here and half wet/half dry.  
i will attempt a better pic in the future.))

mr. c turned 2 months old!

faux swim class @ home (no real class due to the holidays)