If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that come Friday evening I seem to disappear, and then I return on Mondays with a story catch up of what I’ve been up to. Over the last month or so, I’ve been trying my hardest to put my phone down over the weekend and not use it and honestly? I’ve been loving it.
I’ve known for a long time that my sanity, stress levels and general state of my mental health correlates directly with the amount of screen time I have. I’ve talked before about how constant messaging and notifications makes me anxious, so reducing time spent on my phone is something I’ve been making a priority for a while now.
I also found myself reaching for my phone ALL THE TIME at weekends. Sitting down to watch a movie with Con? On my phone. Cooking dinner? On my phone. Passenger in the car? On my phone. Waiting for food to arrive at a restaurant? On the phone. It’s hard to be present when you’re constantly replying to messages or checking Instagram. I felt like I was constantly missing out on the moment, worrying about everything else going on.
And honestly, I reached a period of straight up burnout that I talked about in this recent post and taking a bit of time out from online life seemed like the way to go.
Now, I’ve done a few weekends of it now, and I’ve tried a few different things, and not all of them worked. There was the weekend I shut my phone in my bedside drawer from 5pm Friday til 9am Monday, but not only did I not get the message that a friend needed to cancel our coffee date, but we also managed to get locked out of the flat without a phone, so that wasn’t ideal. There was the weekend I just kept my phone on my as normal and tried to not use it, but I have no self control, so that didn’t work.
Now I’ve tried to keep it simple and practical. On a Friday afternoon I move Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp into a separate folder tucked away on my phone, with all the notifications turned off. If I’m at home, my phone is in my bedside drawer away. If I’m going out on my own I take my phone, but if I’m out with Con I don’t bother because he has his phone. My family know if they need me, to just get in touch with Con, and it means if there is an emergency, I always have a means of getting in touch with someone or being contactable myself. Instead of using my phone for photos, I’ve been carrying my camera, and my phone is really just there for insurance purposes. I zip it up in a separate pocket of my bag and 9 times out of 10, don’t touch it.
I’m only human, and I’m certainly not perfect at this. I’ll check a couple of times a day just to make sure there have been no important messages, and if I’m due to meet a friend I’ll fire off a text, but most of my pals know I’m phoneless on the weekend and don’t bother trying to get in touch til Monday. The good eggs.
Honestly the main pro here is that my stress levels are much lower. Weekends away from my phone feel like the hard reset I need after being ‘on’ all week. It’s time to properly relax, unwind, and let my brain quieten down.
I’m definitely more present, single tasking really works for me, and without the background noise of a phone I’m certainly able to appreciate the moment more. I’m more present, engaging in better conversation, and really noticing the good stuff more.
It’s freed up more time too, it’s amazing how much time we waste mindlessly scrolling, and it’s time better spent outside, reading a book, or drinking wine on the balcony with my boyfriend.
I’ve loved the unexpected side effect of reconnecting with my camera too! A lot of the time I don’t bother to take my camera out and about because it’s ANOTHER thing to carry, and really my phone takes great photos anyway. I’ve been making an effort to carry my camera instead of my phone so that I’m not tempted to flick through to other apps when getting my phone out to snap a photo, and it’s been great to play with my camera again. I’ve taken some photos that I’m really pleased with!
The question I’ve had most about this is ‘has your Instagram engagement suffered’ and surprisingly, it hasn’t. I was fully prepared for it to, to lose followers or for engagement to suffer, and I was okay with that, it seemed a fair price for sanity, but if anything, I think it’s done me some good. My follower count remains steady, and if anything my engagement on a Monday morning on the grid and in my catch up stories is the highest of the week.
So all in all, phone free weekends are doing me the world of good, and I’d encourage you all to give them a go! Have I convinced you?