There's hope in the chaos.
There's hope in the chaos.
June 2, 2016

The Question That Keeps Me in Check

Recently, I tried something that’s actually helped with my habit of checking my phone repeatedly. It’s nothing complicated or difficult.

The Question That Keeps Me in Check

The average American checks their phone more than 150 times a day.

Can you believe that? That number seems insanely high, but then again, everywhere I go I see foreheads illuminated by screens.

Our culture’s obsession with technology affects our ability to have any sense of balance in our lives. And all too often, nonstop screen time takes our attention away from the important moments around us.

If we don’t figure out how to put our freaking phones down, we are going to know everything about everyone else’s lives but totally miss out on the amazing people and experiences right in front of us.

I struggle with this daily, just like you. So recently, I tried something that’s actually helped with my habit of checking my phone repeatedly. It’s nothing complicated or difficult.

It’s just a simple question.

It helps me to not only put things into perspective, but also to put down my phone when I am with family, friends or coworkers.

I ask myself this: “Is it more important that I know what the outside world is doing right now, or is it more important that I experience what I am doing right now?”

The question almost always answers itself.

This works when you’re mindlessly scrolling Twitter while waiting for food with your spouse at a restaurant or when you’re perusing Facebook in the grocery store line while your child is trying to get your attention.

Even if you’re just enduring something mundane, when you are with family and friends, they matter more.

One of the most tempting and easily justified times to be on my phone is when I’m taking a picture or posting something online myself. Posting photos and updating statuses isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes I find myself missing everyday moments because I’m so busy trying to document them.

It’s not just me either. If you go to a concert, you’ll see thousands of people watching a live concert in person (that they paid for) through a tiny screen on their phone to capture it.

But we don’t just capture it. After we capture it, we have to write a clever caption. Then we have to post it. And the moment we upload that Instagram picture or Facebook post, we push over the first domino in a series.

The next domino is a notification that our old high school friend Amber likes our post. How is Amber? I haven’t thought of her in years. I heard she moved to California . . .

Then there’s another notification. It’s John. His comments are always so clever and witty! It’ll just take a second to respond.

What started as a moment with family or friends turned into a photo, then a post, then a notification—and the dominoes keep falling.

And we get halfway through the concert or dinner only to realize the entire first half was spent staring at a screen and completely missing out on the moment that we’re in.

A similar question works in these situations as well.

“Is it more important that the outside world knows what I am doing right now, or is it more important that I experience it myself?”

If I ask this simple question when I’m tempted to pick up my phone, it gives me some perspective.

Life balance isn’t easy, but with a little less phone time and a little more perspective, we can all be more present for the most important people, moments and memories happening right in front of us all year long.

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Leave a Comment

  • Great point here Christi. I need to do a much better job of this. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Dot says:

    Thank you for the reminder . . . I hate – okay, it is needful but not for all the things that it takes me away from. Now while I am pondering the Prince of Peace doing what my P.T. has told me to do, I will desire self-control with that phone. . . . all I need is to keep stpping to get my steps in . . . stop laughing. : )

  • This is so true. Facebook is my waste of time. I go online to check important things and then say I’ll just do this one last thing. Next thing I know I’m late for an appointment or some crazy thing. This year I have already started to pay more attention to the time. My phone will answer calls and take pictures but that’s basically it, so I don’t have all those things bugging me. We have to stay in touch with ourselves, our families and take care of business at home and work.

  • Sandy says:

    I agree! I’ve been practicing closing/turning off electronics when I’m with people and questioning my reasoning for looking at my phone for entertainment or something to do during the mundane tasks. I’m training my family to live more in the present as well…experience vs record and report everything!

    A few month’s ago I turned off multiple notifications on my phone, reduced the volumes, and switched to gentler “noises” because I felt like my phone constantly was yelling at me for attention! It took a bit of time to retrain myself to be aware of the quieter notifications and it is worth it. I enjoy the peace and calm of not letting my phone boss my time while still being aware if I need to address something.

  • Thanks so much for this, makes sense to what I have been feeling about people always being on their phones. It boths me that when friends hangout everyone is on the phone looking at FB, Twitter, Instagram, or Sports while watching a game. At the end of the night when I walk out I don’t know any of my friends better then when I walked in. It’s not good to have friendships like this, it doesn’t accomplish anything, or benefit me in any way. I could’ve stayed home watched the game and then be on Twitter and Facebook communicate with people like that. I think it is just stupid and foolish that we are so “phone” conscious that we miss out on the most precious moments in life.

  • Marnie says:

    I am on my phone right now responding to your spot on post about being on our phones. My dogs are staring at me waiting for their walk. I am going to listen to Dave Ramsey podcast on my phone while I walk. Oh these phones are so addicting. Thank you

  • RAE HUNEKE says:

    I am reading and responding on my laptop which is siting on my desk. I will try to manage my time on here well. It will be a challenge , but a conscious and doable challenge. Balance is such a huge deal in life. As for phones, I sometimes , once in a while, occasionally, wish I could do all those neat things on mine, but really I am content to have a stupid phone, to experience life and people, and to actually be where I am. And yes, I still write letters and snail mail them too.

  • Johnnie Llanes says:

    I agree with you too many times we’re all paying to much attention to our phone’s rather than those in front of us. I was visiting my father (age 91) and he mentioned how my brother and I were always on the phone while visiting him and I realized how right he was and now I don’t spend time on the phone while visiting. God forbid my Dad’s life is changing by the moment and I don’t want to feel I missed something while interested in everyone else life and not my own. Thanks

  • R. Kimbel says:

    This is so true and sad. Technology has become addictive. I have counted but I am sure I check my emails 100 times a day. Although I know there should not be any urgent message that requires me to check so many times. It’s just plain sad addition to a point where it has become such a waste of time.
    I was laughing when reading your paragraph about attending concert. This happened me exactly a week ago attending a local concert. Spent time more watching through the tiny screen instead of letting it go and enjoy the moment!