I joined the smartphone community after my old phone I hardly used kicked the bucket and I joined the workforce after my college graduation. I’m sure the salesman was more excited than I was.  I never thought I’d admit it, but my smartphone is actually pretty handy.  From keeping up with friends, managing my calendar, and practicing Spanish (thanks, Duolingo!), my phone seems to do it all.

Three little words. Do. It. All.

Don’t get me wrong: having access to information, organized in the form of a little glowing box, is pretty convenient.  But at what cost?

Even though I reluctantly entered the smartphone world only a year and a half ago, I began to see the effects of efficiency take a toll on my time… and my battery power.  Why does my phone seem to drain quickly?  Seriously, wasn’t it 100% an hour ago?!

A quick assessment of my day provided the simple answer: I’m using my phone too much.

More use = less power.

That being said, I decided it was time to make a change.  I listened to a podcast from The Minimalists on stress and Joshua mentioned that we have a tendency to use our phones as a pacifier.  Hmm.  Am I doing that?  It turns out, when I get real about my phone use, I do not use the device simply for its functions to help me keep track of my life.  I use it as an excuse to cover up weaknesses.  It becomes a pacifier for a number of situations:

  1. I am bored = my smartphone can entertain me for 1-5 minutes
  2. I am in an awkward situation = my smartphone can distract me from feeling uncomfortable/ escape the reality
  3. I am alone = my smartphone makes me look “wanted,” or that I purposefully chose solitude/ I am obviously waiting for something important

Since when did I become so reliant on my smartphone to solve problems for me? Perhaps I followed the example of others to fit in.  When did I assume being uncomfortable was a bad thing?  Perhaps I saw that my phone was a quick fix.  When did I decide that being alone (out shopping/eating a meal/running errands/etc.) is a vulnerability?  Where did my creativity go?

I believe that smartphones are a great technology and not inherently negative things.  But I noticed that purchasing the device opened a pandora’s box of dependency that leads to deeper issues that are problematic.

In order to counteract my problem of battery power usage, I decided to limit my phone use.  On a normal day, I keep my battery percentage 90% and higher.  If I notice it dropping closer to 90%, it’s my cue to get off the phone.

Making 90% and up a rule has helped me balance my smartphone usage.  I feel less attached to false realities that my weaknesses draw me to. I am more aware of what I do; I focus on the present.  And I don’t worry about battery power.  I can check “phone battery” off my metal to-do list.

Conserving my phone’s battery power contributes to my pursuit of minimalism because I focus on what makes me genuinely happy.  The device has its purpose, but does not contribute to waste of time or character development.  I expand my creativity to put my free time to use.  I learn to cope with awkwardness and develop interpersonal skills.  I choose to partake in occasional solitude by focusing on its benefits.

I once saw a quote, “a place for everything and everything in its place.”  A staple of the minimalist lifestyle, this quote encapsulates the ideal of balance, which we can apply to anything – even a smartphone.  Just like an overabundance of clutter can take over our life, an unhealthy phone habit can do the same.  Make the change and put your phone in its place.  I urge you to make a goal percentage for your phone battery and fill your new-found time with creativity instead of following the flow that society set up for us.  Pass it on!

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