Habits life

Technology Thoughts, Continued

September 3, 2020

Loved hearing everyone’s thoughts on yesterday’s post.

I wanted to comment on the Apple Watch suggestion — I do not have an Apple watch (or AirPods!) even though I use a MacBook pro at home and have always had iPhones.

(I have never gotten into iPads for my own personal use – they seem neither here nor there! I guess we do use Josh’s iPad to watch TV shows in bed, but that’s the extent of my usage.)

((I know there are iPad diehards out there – including some cool virtual planner systems — so not knocking them! Just saying what I have used.))

ANYWAY. I do not have an Apple Watch and have considered getting one on a few occasions . . . but I do have a Garmin watch. It’s getting old (Garmin 235, purchased in 2016 but replaced x2 by the company because they are awesome!). But, it does work to send notifications to my wrist including texts & calls. You can’t respond to texts or answer calls, but it’s enough to know if you are missing something dire.

It looked so high tech in 2016!

I personally have not felt this feature has really helped me use my phone less, though it does make me feel more comfortable just leaving the phone in the foyer or charging area rather than having it with me.

So, that is why I have not taken the plunge on the Apple Watch. Plus, I feel sort of brand loyal given their customer service. Instead of going Apple I will probably just get a fancier Garmin someday.

The Distraction/Phone Issue

It’s actually shocking how universal this issue is for . . . nearly our entire generation. Clearly these devices have innate pull and the ‘default’ is to be sucked in, at least for most people. I love the idea Cal Newport has about scheduling your social media time like a “favorite TV show” (kind of funny since he doesn’t watch TV!) — but I have not been successful in doing this. Yet. Has anyone?

The thing that has helped me most is to build habits that have me doing something else that isn’t my phone.

If I’m reading a book, I’m not on my phone. (NOTE: I read books on paper 90% of the time because I enjoy it more.)

If I’m writing in my bullet journal, I’m not on my phone.

If I’m writing a blog post (hi!), I’m not on my phone.

If I’m taking a walk, I’m not on my phone (or I’m listening to a podcast or music intentionally).

If I’m doing my meditation app — well, I’m on my phone, but not in the distracting way 🙂

I guess this is more the crowding out method, and it does work. It doesn’t work when I’m halfheartedly watching the kids (but really I’m tired and just want to curl up alone with my book or bullet journal etc. . .). So there’s that.

Call day #3! It has not been too busy and I was able to sleep the past 2 nights! YAY.

Taken on a very hot walk around my office yesterday!


  • Reply KGC September 3, 2020 at 9:38 am

    So interesting about the Garmin not having much effect on your screen time! Then I take back my suggestion for the Apple Watch =) I guess this is just a good example of what works for one doesn’t work for another!

    Honestly, I wonder if some of it is that you are already pretty deliberate with your phone use because you crowd it out with the other things you describe (blogging, reading, etc.). Based on the comments from yesterday, it sounds like you are maybe already doing better than a lot of people (if you define ‘better’ as being more intentional/less mindless scrolling), even though it feels to you like there’s still room for improvement. Maybe you’re reaching the point of diminishing returns, and any further improvement is only going to be the result of something really drastic (like quitting all social media, locking phone in a cabinet for a weekend, etc.) – you’ve said before these things don’t mesh with your personality so I’m not actually suggesting them, just sort of musing out loud.

    I find this topic fascinating. Now, if you or anyone else has suggestions about how to gently bring this up to one’s husband to decrease HIS use (especially when kids are around), I am all ears!!!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns September 3, 2020 at 9:57 am

    I don’t have an apple watch, either, or an iPad!! My husband has a surface so that is the tablet for our household and we haven’t felt like we needed another one. Maybe we will when our son is older but for now, at age 2, he does not need a device! I have a very basic FitBit Alta watch which I love. I have tiny wrists so I like that it has a very small watch face. I get phone call and text notifications on my watch. I can’t answer a call or respond to a text but at least I know something is coming through so I can have my phone in another room. I sometimes wish I had an Apple Watch but in general, it’s just not necessary so it’s not worth the money spent. I have a Garmin similar to yours – I think I’ve had it for 4 years or so and it’s still going strong. But we only use it for runs and really for the last 3 years, my husband is the only one using it which kind of cracks me up because it’s purple! But he doesn’t care about the color. I hope to use it again in 2021 when I get back to running after this baby is born!

    Overall I just want to say again that I think your phone usage is very healthy and not excessive. There are so many reasons for us to feel guilty as moms. Don’t feel bad if you scroll IG when you are hanging with your kids. It’s not like you are spending HOURS on IG. And for me, going on IG is usually a mood booster as I see pics of people’s kids, etc.

  • Reply Mariana September 3, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Sarah! Long time reader (and listener!), first time commenter haha
    I can relate to a lot of what you wrote today and yesterday. My screen time weekly average is very similar to yours, but seems to vary quite a bit from day to day, with some days sitting at just 1h or so and others going all the way up to 4h+ if I find myself in some sort of internet rabbit hole…
    At the beginning of lockdown I started using twitter a lot more and checking the news obsessively and felt absolutely terrible! So in June I decided not to use social media at all and to limit my news to a podcast per day (The Globalist). It really helped. I’ve been mostly keeping off Facebook and Twitter ever since, and only checking Instagram on my laptop instead of my phone (I have uninstalled it but I will sometimes re install to post something and end up keeping it for a few days). I also try to avoid checking email too often.
    Despite all this, my screen time is still ‘high’, mostly due to Whatsapp (I live pretty far from my family and most of my friends) and to the random internet search. However I’m not sure this is a bad thing. I don’t feel like the phone is wasting my time, and yes, I do still reach out for it when I could be reading or doing something else that would bring some more value to my life, but much less than before (life is also a bit more back to normal here – I live in the UK – so that also helps!)
    I think harder than using the phone less is to get to a point of a neutral relationship with it. I’d love to be able to just use it when I want for things that I care about and not fret!

  • Reply Leah September 3, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    I would love to see a post about how you deal with anxiety on call. As a new attending, its so terrifying to have patients in house overnight without residents! And never knowing when you might be called in/what could roll into the ED.

  • Reply Sophie September 3, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    Last year I read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and I did basically go off all social media for a month or two, only checking it once a week. I felt great. But then it crept back in to my life and I’m back to multiple checks a day. I agree phones are highly addictive and especially social media/news etc. One thing I learnt was to recognise in myself when I’m checking it too much, I start to feel restless and bored, and, well, addicted. Then I cut it right back. I agree the crowding out method works best, having my kindle to read, podcast to listen to etc instead. I really think your usage sounds totally fine Sarah and your strategies for keeping it low are sound. So if I were you I wouldn’t worry. 🙂

  • Reply Jjiraffe September 3, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    Yes. Reading paper books has been the only activity that gets me off my phone. Currently working my way through the Elin Hilderbrand oeuvre, and she’s prolific! It’s escapist fun set in Nantucket, where the problems are minor and the food is amazing. It’s my escape from quarantine times.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 4, 2020 at 5:40 am

      that sounds wonderful!!!!

  • Reply Irene September 3, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    This is random but are you still allowing A to have “fun” screen time on top of virtual school? We have been trying not to because 4.5 hours in front of a screen seems like more than enough for a small child but it’s causing SO much resentment because my kiddo already hates virtual school even with out it being the reason she loses TV…

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 4, 2020 at 5:40 am

      we are, but less of it. More like 1 hour (previously it was something like 3! AGGHHGH)!

  • Reply Sam @ Eye to Wonder September 3, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    I sometimes put my phone in a basket by the door, so I have to intentionally walk and go get it to use it. It helps with mindless scrolling a bit, but then of course, I have to remember to put it away. It does help for those moments when I’m noticing feeling sucked in by apps though.

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