Today I was doing research for a blog post about being mindful in a world of distraction when I came across some information which led me to taking part in my own mini-experiment. (The irony of this has not eluded me by the way.)

I found out that the average person checks their email 15 times a day. Also, we interact with our phones (granted about half of these interactions are less than 30 seconds) more than 80 times per day. Lastly, we spend about 5 (though some estimates actually put it closer to 9) hours per day  on our phones! That’s a third to half of the time that we spend awake each day… on our phones!

I also know that the majority of people who are reading this right now are probably reading it on a mobile device.

I’ll talk a little more about what I found next week, so stay tuned for that. For now, back to my experiment. You ready?

I began writing down each time that I picked up my phone. Now I realize that the mere documentation of an action can lead to skewed results. In fact, I found myself stopping me from picking up my phone just to not have to document my shame. I wanted to look at my phone. I felt an insatiable desire to read my email, to check my notifications, to scroll through my newsfeed, to play video games…

Which led me to think that others might feel the same way. I also began thinking about the anxiety that I believe many people feel when we are without our phones- without our connection to the outside world. It has become so ingrained in us that we can actually become addicted to our smartphones!

Some common thoughts that people might have when thinking about being without their phone could include:

  • What if there’s an emergency?
  • What if I’m the last to hear about something important happening?
  • What if I miss out on something because I don’t have my phone?
  • What if I need it?

The real question you should be asking is, “What might I gain by not checking my phone?”

So today, I put down my phone and picked up my daughter and read her a story (or three). When my older daughter was getting tired and cranky, I picked her up, laid her down next to me, and watched as she fell asleep.

Imagine what you could do with the 5 to 9 hours per day that you spend on your phone. It’s too troublesome to think of all the things that you may have already missed- missed opportunites, missed conversations, missed relationships… the list goes on.

So I challenge you, the next time you reach for your phone, ask yourself if it really is the most important thing in that moment. Ask yourself if there is something more worthwhile you could be doing. You may be surprised by what you find. Feel free to let me know in the comments or shoot me an email (I’ll still be checking it more times than I should, but I’ll be working on that).