Dumb Phone Challenge Recap

I may be a millennial, but I think I’d survive without a smart phone. I spent all of January doing a Dumb Phone Challenge where I only used my phone for calling, texting, and a few other features. It went really well and I can honestly say I learned a lot from it. I don’t know how long it takes to form a habit–some say a few weeks, some say more–but I feel as though I was able to undo some of my bad phone habits and pick up some good ones during this challenge. First, let me recap a few days that stood out during the challenge:

Day 1: I woke up with a million notifications from New Year’s Eve social media posting. So, I checked everything once and then immediately deleted my apps. I spent the rest of the day picking up my phone only to remember it didn’t do anything cool. My boyfriend used my computer all day for his own stuff and, since my phone didn’t have any features on it for me to procrastinate, I ended up cleaning my entire apartment. I would say Day 1 was pretty productive.

Day 2: By this point I hadn’t charged my phone and I was already ignoring it a little bit more, or at least not reaching for it constantly. Someone sent me a link and I accidentally opened it, but didn’t read it once I realized what I was doing. Before bed, I really wanted to look something up and I got a little anxious when I realized I couldn’t. Spoiler: I slept fine that night anyway.

Day 6: I went to Michael’s to buy some amazing craft supplies, but I was pissed at myself for forgetting to print coupons. Normally, I would just pull up a mobile coupon at the register for 50% off. It all worked out though–all of the items I bought were already on sale!

Day 12: I drove from my parent’s house to my friend’s house without using GPS. Not only that, but I also found a pet store on the way to buy her new puppy a toy.

Day 14: I looked at my phone and decided I didn’t need to bring it with me for a quick errand.

Day 18: I went on a walk with no phone distractions–it was actually really pleasant. I got hungry, so I stopped by Earth Fare for some hot soup (it was unseasonably cold that day). Normally, I’d connect to Earth Fare WiFi to check my email or check out all my different social media apps. Instead, I just sat there eating my soup. I also might have easvedropped on other people’s conversations by accident. Nothing interesting to report, unfortunately.

Day 19: I turned off my alarm in the morning, then I looked at my phone for a second and put it back down. Normally, I would check all my social media apps once, clear out my email, and check the weather. Without all the clutter on my phone, I just started my morning and it felt great. I was starting to realized that I didn’t really need all the stuff I had on my phone anyway.

Day 20: I totally caved and used the voice recorder app on my phone to prepare for a symposium presentation. I like to record myself to make sure I don’t sound like an idiot. And I think it paid off because I’m 90% sure I didn’t sound like an idiot during my presentation.

Day 24: I went on an overnight trip to see friends and family and I didn’t need to charge my phone at all. This was a true turning point for me in understanding how little actually need to use my phone.

Day 25: This was the day I realized that my life is a lot more simple without a lot of apps on my phone. I honestly don’t even know why I was using so many before. I started to think about the apps I want to put back on my phone and I couldn’t think of too many that I really needed. More updates to come on this as I start to transition out of my Dumb Phone Challenge.

Overall, I feel like it was easy to reduce my dependence on technology a bit. It’s been a few days and I have reinstalled Instagram and Whatsapp. Otherwise, I’ve been pretty good without apps. That being said, I’ve used the web browser on my phone to check Facebook and look a couple things up. And it’s only a matter of time before I reinstall the Weather Channel app (because I freaking love knowing the weather).

This challenge exposed me to some really positive changes though. Here are my top three positive changes:

  1. No more music or electronic tracking during my runs. This one is amazing because I just run for a certain amount of time, stop when I’m hurting, and keep going if I’m feeling great. I don’t need an app to tell me how far or long I ran. And I don’t need music because running without it has allowed me to clear my mind on my daily run. I have a new sign on my bedroom mirror that says “Running is Free Therapy” to remind me of this. Without all the apps on my phone, I only have to take it with me for safety. I throw my phone in my pocket, tie up my shoes and hit the pavement. By the time my run is over, I almost always feel refreshed, clear, and ridiculously happy. I’m happy to have my “runner’s high” back.
  2. Less technology at meal time. I still love taking photos of my food. I have no explanation for that. But during the challenge, I didn’t have anything to do with the photo once I took it. So, unless I was texting a picture to my mom (hi, mom), I just snapped a quick photo and then enjoyed my meal–with or without company, but almost always without my phone. I want to keep that going for as long as possible. It’s nice to enjoy conversation and yummy food instead of losing myself in social media.
  3. More battery life. Not that I can ever be too far from an iPhone charger, but it’s certainly nice to not have to charge my phone at night or throughout the day. In fact, in the few days I’ve had a couple more apps on my phone since the challenge ended, I’ve found myself getting frustrated at the amount of battery I lose from opening one app. I am going to keep the amount of apps I have on my phone low in the first place, but also remember that I don’t have to check every app every hour (or even every day).

Anyone else interested in a Dumb Phone Challenge or some version of it? I highly recommend trying it out! Comment with your experiences or questions below.

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2 thoughts on “Dumb Phone Challenge Recap

    1. I hope you get the chance to do it sometime soon! It’s a fantastic experience and any version of it can probably help you understand a little more about your relationship with technology. Good luck–let me know how it goes 🙂

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