Phone Therapy. How Rid Yourself Of Toxic Habits And Reclaim Your Time

Some time ago I was at a restaurant with a man I cared deeply about. Problem. It was all in my head, the relationship I mean, and I only figured that one out because on our date, he spent more of his time on his phone than he did talking to me.

Ok. Ok to be fair!

He was from out of town, he had people he must have wanted to keep in contact with. Did I mention I really liked him? So, of course, I gave the ‘relationship’ more chances but when on date No. 4 I noticed that it wasn’t all in my head, I really did have to compete for his attention with his Iphone, I knew we were as dead as a doornail. 

So I silently withdrew from him and whatever it was that caused the spark in the first place.

I thought about him this week though as I sat in a hipster NYC restaurant in Soho and looked around.
 Turns out maybe he was more of the majority than the anomaly. Across every table, couples sat opposite each other but they couldn’t be more far apart. 
On a date, in the tiny moments where intimacy should exist, men and women had their phones on overdrive: sharing, tweeting, texting anything but really connecting with conversation or touch.
We are too attached to our phones. Yes, for sure, him. But also you. Me too. And the tradeoff for this attachment is being documented more and more by researchers who are pointing to a range of mental health problems: depression, anxiety, loneliness, envy, even a keen dissociation from the present with a need to keep up with the Jones’

Perhaps, I too was headed there.

Being a Chief Content Creator with responsibility for engagement and growth at a digital media company I often felt a need to be constantly switched on. I drew a firm line in the sand when I was out with friends though. Still, I lived in what often felt like a digital abyss. For instance, I would begin my day with the thought of doing a single thing but that never worked, not with notifications switched on and retweets to be done and Facebook messages to be answered.

From an observer’s perspective think about it for a moment.

You’re at work watching a person. They’re typing something, maybe a word document and then, for no apparent reason, they suddenly stop what they’re doing and they shift and look at email or check Facebook. They scroll through images, they retweet something and What App the person next to them and that’s just the first hour.
Gloria Mark, Professor of Informatics at the University of California-Irvine, says that this rapid switching whether on a date or in the office isn’t a new issue but over the last decade it has become increasingly worse.
“About ten years ago, we found that people shifted their attention between online and offline activities about every three minutes on average. But now we’re looking at more recent data, and we’re finding that people are shifting every 45 seconds.

That’s mindblowing.

Her lab has found a pretty clear relationship: The more that people switch their attention, the higher their stress level and inability to be mindful.

It made sense to me when I stopped to think about it.

Why was it taking me so long to finish a book, I used to be able to devour the ones I loved in under a week. Why was my date so addicted to his phone? What was he getting out of the constant switching?  After spending 30 minutes rambling through my Instagram feed, did I feel good, more connected? Did I lose anything in the process and could I have used those twenty minutes better? Most importantly, was I watching some else’s life rather than living my best own?
The answers made a light bulb explode in my head. Some things had to change

Here’s what I did to reclaim my time and huge bits of sanity.


I took off all notifications from my more favourite digital influencers, and yes from all my What’s App groups too.


I gave myself permission to have personal social media breaks and respected all the time limits I set. I came off my phone when they ended. 


I enlisted help. I assigned myself e-mail and chat response times and shared them with everyone on my team with a simple. ‘Hey, I’m working on this task, we’ll talk later, how is in 3 hours for you?’


I stopped sleeping with my phone next to me. This was a major game changer. Finally, I began using my platforms to connect not with a tick or an emoji but with an invitation for a coffee date, or a meet-up, places (wefies aside) you won’t ever find me on my phone.

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Judette Coward

A fierce entrepreneur always in high heels, I’m a producer, writer, entrepreneur, educator, digital strategist, and all-around #bossbabe. I dream, do, think and create and joyfully share my offerings with the world
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2 Comments. Leave new

Shivaughn Marchan
June 24, 2018 7:14 pm

Excellent suggestions! We need to starting learning to communicate like People again!

you are so correct about the phone taking away from personal time and intimacy and old fashioned conversation where facial expressions are natural and creative too.
i have also realized that the phone and social media provides a very easy, secretive and deceptive way for infidelity, cheating and dishonesty to occur within a relationship.

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Judette Coward

A fierce entrepreneur always in high heels, I’m a producer, writer, entrepreneur, educator, digital strategist, and all-around #bossbabe. I dream, do, think and create and joyfully share my offerings with the world

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