147. Intentional phone habits and boundaries, using your phone ON PURPOSE

Would you like to be more intentional with how you use your phone? Do you want to set boundaries and take back control of what your relationship with your phone looks like?

In this episode, I have tips on how to do all of this, and I share my own personal phone boundaries that you might like to try too. Make sure to get the worksheets to help you create your own plan for creating intentional phone habits. 

Follow up to the last episode on the phone habits and addictions that are made on autopilot. 

In this episode we cover:

  • What we are trying to GET from our phones, what we turn to them for. 
  • Getting our needs met in REAL LIFE and not just by our phones
  • How to be intentional with your phone
  • Setting boundaries with how you use your phone
  • I share my own personal phone limits and challenges that help me be intentional and accountable with my phone habits
  • Being intentional with your time OFF of your phone as well
  • Challenging the autopilot habits you have created with your phone
  • Challenging the cultural phone habits we accept as the status quo 
  • Changing your mind about what you think about your phone
  • Challenging the sense of urgency you get from your phone
  • Being uncomfortable as you learn not to rely on your phone
  • Doing the work of practising new and more intentional phone habits


Get the worksheets to help you set intentional phone habits for yourself 

This episode has worksheets to help you explore this topic and make an action plan for yourself. Get the worksheets right here. 



Links mentioned in this episode:

Episode 146 Understanding your autopilot phone habits

Episode 77. Why you need a day of BEING, and take rest from the DOING

When I Instagrammed My Own Life, and Not My Kids

The Moms30for30 challenge


The next episode will come out in two weeks. 

In the meantime, make sure to stay connected through:

  • The Simple Saturdays email (sign up here)
  • Simple on Purpose on Instagram
  • Share something in the closed Facebook group (join here, make sure to answer the entry questions) 



Today we are following up on the last episode. And in the last episode we talked about, maybe if you feel like you have a bit of a phone addiction or some unhealthy phone habits, understanding how those habits are made, and they’re really made on autopilot. And now we have this relationship to our phone and how we use it and the habits we have, that are just reflexes. They’re just on autopilot, and really stepping back to challenge them and understand them and decide what we want to do about it.

So today, we’re going to talk about what you want your relationship with your phone to be like, what kind of phone habits do you want? What kind of boundaries Do you want to set.

And it is kind of funny to be recording this today, because I have been on my phone almost double my usual amount lately. And that is because of what’s happening around me right now I live in Southern BC, we were hit by massive floods. And these floods just come in and they do all this damage. And we’re left with roads that are washed out. So groceries can’t come in with gas lines that are out. So we’re out of heat, we’re out of hot water, the water isn’t safe to drink, it’s contaminated. sewer systems are struggling, power’s out kids are home. And this is just the state that we’re in.

And so for me being on my phone and being connected and reading updates, reading, what’s what’s happening, can I use the water, all of these little details, it shows us how valuable technology is, it’s so valuable.

But still, even in times like this even in emergencies in crisis situations. I know I still need to put it down, I still need to set boundaries. I can’t let this consume me. I can’t be so preoccupied with it. Maybe if you felt like this during the first COVID lockdown, you can relate that you just kind of are constantly checking constantly on it. And it takes a minute to just like put it down and show up for your people and for yourself. Right.

So as much as I talk about being intentional with your phone like it’s it’s the irony is not lost on me that right now. I especially have to do that in this time. And just everyone who’s messaged me, we are safe where we are our home is unaffected by the water, the flood itself. And of course our towns are just going to take a lot to restore and remediate. But the communities we live in are very resilient, very supportive. And just so many people rallying around together, it’s quite an amazing thing to witness and be part of.

So in this last episode that we talked about, I hope coming from that last episode, you have a motivation for changing your relationship to your phone. I hope you have thought about what you want. Do you want more time? less distraction? Do you want less comparison? Do you want more presence? Because it’s really important, you know why you want to change, it’s important, you know what is important to you.

So you may have done the worksheets from the last episode. And notice ways that you might be letting your phone be more important than the things that you truly value. So I hope you’ve considered in doing that work, what your phone habits are costing you, because your habits need to cost you something in order to let go of the benefits of them. So getting familiar getting honest, having that kind of vulnerable, scary conversation with yourself. What is this costing me? Am I willing to keep paying this cost?

And as you’ve paid attention to how you’re using the phone, I hope you’ve asked yourself, what am I trying to get? What did you notice that you’re trying to get from your phone, because we turn to it for different reasons connection, approval, excitement, entertainment, to learn something to avoid boredom to avoid what’s bugging you to avoid feeling stressed, or to track something or use it for productivity and like, it’s amazing, we can get all that from our phones, right? It is not a bad thing that we have this option to use our phone for all that.

But here’s the thing, when this becomes your main source to satisfy all of those needs, you’ve officially tied yourself to your phone, if your phone is the one source to getting those needs met. So I really encourage you to ask yourself, How can I get this need met in real life?

The worksheets with this episode are going to walk you through that. And I just want you to think about the different things you’re going on your phone for like are you going for excitement? How can you get that need met in real life?

Like I know for me, I would need to do something that I find exciting. Instead of watching others do it. If I turn to my phone to zone out in distress, then I know that in real life I need some more tangible healthy coping strategies that you know actually make me feel refreshed because I feel like being online ends up draining me it does not refresh me even though I tell myself it is some kind of mental break for me. It usually isn’t in the long run if I’m just like stepping back and looking at how I do feel at the end of it.

And I think this question is most true for community for connection, social media community, it is legit, but it cannot replace in real relationships, like ever. So the more you put your social energy online, the less is available for the people around you. And what happens when a neighborhood a community loses those real life connections of knowing people. Being there celebrating with the morning for them helping one another out.

man, I feel this really strongly right now I know who to call for things. I know what my neighbor’s names are, I know, what they might need from me in real life community is the real stuff.

And for many of you moms listening, we go online, to find community, we’re kind of lonely at home. So we go online, totally natural, I don’t want to take that away from you. But I also think it’s worth thinking about ways you can add real life community into your life, because there’s probably moms in your community who want a mom, friend, they can call up, go to the park with. So always look for ways to connect with people. In real life. That means putting your phone down and talking to them, inviting them out somewhere asking them for coffee, getting their phone number, that kind of thing. It’s scary. But it is the real stuff.

So the big question becomes, how do we be more intentional with our phones? With the phones in our hands? We still want to use it? How do we be intentional with it? So on one hand, we need to know what we want. And the second hand we need to set boundaries to make it happen. So what do you want? What is important to you in your life? What do you want to make sure that you make time for? Do you want to hobby? Do you want to meet up with your friends? Do you want to play a game with your kids? Do you want to go for a walk? Catch up on your laundry? Read a book remember books? So great.

And what do you want your phone to be doing for you? How do you want to be using your phone to get what you want out of life. And then the next thing is to set some simple boundaries like no phones at mealtime or social free Sunday, I’m going to share in the rest of this episode my own boundaries and my own limits that I have made. And I do want you to also get the worksheets that come with this episode. Because there is two pages of ideas that are different boundaries, different tactics, different ways of being intentional with your phone.

I wonder how you feel about setting boundaries with your phone, I wonder if that feels restrictive. Or if it feels like it’s gonna be a lot of work. I wonder how that feels. Maybe it’s not the best word. But I do want to encourage you that if you don’t set boundaries on your phone, nobody else will for you. In fact, the apps are designed to keep you on longer and longer because the longer you’re on, the more ads you view. So really, you need to be the one that does the work of setting the boundaries.

So I’m going to share my own limits. And I don’t share these as the one right way to do things. I don’t think it’s a one size fits all. But I do know, in my like research of this and how I’ve tried to approach it that ideas are helpful. So I’m just going to share my ideas on what I do. And if you like a couple, maybe try them out. Also remember, there’s a whole bunch more in those worksheets.

One of the major boundaries that I’ve set that’s been helpful for me is to change my notification settings turning off all notifications except the phone will ring or the text messages will come through. I also have Facebook messages right now, because I have a friend chat on there with my mom besties. But those are the only ones and I don’t have Instagram notifications, Facebook, email, none of that. I don’t want to be tied to those things. I’ll check them when I check them. As you’ve probably noticed, if you’ve been waiting on an email response from me, I get there when I get there.

When my kids are at school is usually when I go online unless I’m working and I don’t really get a chance to do it. But I tried to really just go online when they’re at school so that when they’re home, I’m just like all up in their business. I’m momming hard, though a caveat. I do listen to podcasts, when my kids are at home. Usually when I’m making dinner, I’ll put in a podcast in my ear or like when I’m just doing chores and running around.

If I do go online, I’m going to expect that they’re going to be over my shoulder looking so it has to be this social event where I’m talking to them about what I’m looking up in that kind of thing. That’s something that I found helpful, so I don’t want it to be me secluding myself onto my phone. If I’m on my phone, I tried to include them in it. But really I just tried to do everything when they’re at school. I know that’s hard if you don’t have kids at school. Well I’ll talk about that more in a sec.

The really effective boundary that’s really helped me over the past I don’t know year is to put time limits on my high use apps, particularly Instagram Instagrams, one that I enjoyed being on and I can lose time on there really easily. So I went into my screen time settings, and I know different phones have different names for this, and I set a time I’m going on there. So I get a notification when I’m running out of time. And I can always ignore it. It’s totally up to me. But it’s just holding me accountable. Having that notification come up there,

I have a few personal challenges, I like to get myself around how I use my phone. One is I try to keep it in my bag or in my pocket while I’m in a waiting room. That’s just my own personal challenge that I want to be waiting in the waiting room. Of course, sometimes I just have stuff that I’ve been having conversations and I want to check stuff and I don’t feel guilty about it. I don’t make it like this. You’re morally wrong. If you’re on your phone in a waiting room, not at all, I just hits a personal challenge for me to do that. So that I can just have that like, even just to sit there and be quiet is a nice too.

I also avoid bringing it into the bathroom. Can you believe it? I know this is such a hot issue. People bring their phones into the bathroom. And yeah, I’ve done it. Yeah, I do it. But I still make it my personal challenge to avoid doing it. This is just one way I want to hold myself accountable. Because I think it’s healthier for me overall to not have it. Everywhere I go in every place. It’s like that movie Have you watched this is 40. We recently rewatched it it’s like nine years old now, which is kind of crazy to think about. But the husband’s in the bathroom on the toilet playing on the iPad. And I’m like, that happens so easy that we just That’s our secret hideaway spot in the bathroom. So you know if I’m going to go on my phone, and I want to be alone, I just go into my room and close the door for like 10 minutes. I don’t know, this is just my own personal limit. I know some of you guys are like I need my secret hiding spot, I respect that you know what the best hiding spot is though. Your kids own bedrooms, it’s the last place they’re gonna look for you.

Another personal challenge I have for myself is my screen time. That’s the amount of time I spend on my phone. And there’s apps on your phone, I think it’s called Digital well being on the Android and it’s called screentime on the iPhone, you’re gonna have to google that though to make sure. But it tells you how often you’re on your phone, how much time you spend on the apps, how many times you pick up the phone, the apps that you use the most, it’s all of this data on you and your phone habits. And if you look at those, I think everybody should check out their screentime stats because it is humbling and eye opening and motivating. So I look at those. And I think to myself, I’m going to set this limit on how much time I want to spend in my day, looking at my phone. And that’s just my own personal goal that I will keep an eye on that throughout the day and start to allocate my screentime accordingly. That’s just helping me stay accountable to myself.

Like I said, there’s times when the kids are home, and maybe you have kids that are home with you all the time. Maybe your kids are home for whatever COVID emergencies, maybe they’re home for the holidays, or for the weekend, there’s times when our kids are just always around, I only just want a hot minute to go on our phone. Something that I’ve done over the years that I have found helpful is to get myself a coffee break, where I set an amount of time like 15 minutes, I’m going to sit on this chair, guys, I’m giving myself a coffee break. And I’m going to go on my phone and I’m going to check some things or I’ll go into my room. So I can have some privacy and do that. I mean, my kids are a bit older. But I think that it just helps to show like, I’m not going to be on my phone, like every 20 minutes. But every few hours, I’m going to go on it for 20 minutes, and I’m gonna have this dedicated time like guys, mom’s on a coffee break. Whatever you need from me can wait for 20 minutes.

If I am on my phone throughout the day, like I said text comes through. We have like in our family a personal goal to make eye contact. This is something that me and Connor have talked about. This is our aim when our kids come and talk to us or when we talk to each other that we put the phone down, just put it facedown on the counter and look at the person talking to you. So often whatever we’re doing, if it’s a text message or Googling something, whatever that can be put on hold for the 15 seconds it takes to have this conversation and I think that just shows that you’re the priority to me right now you need my attention. What is it?

Other sometimes I’m just like trying to get this message out of my brain onto the text message to person and I will start narrating to my children. I’m just texting so and so to tell them this. Give me one minute I want to let them know the reason why they’re being put on hold, so to speak, because I think that matters. I would want them to do that. For me. I think if if they had phones and I was trying to talk to them, I would want to know if they were doing something important when they’re going to be done and kind of bring me into that rather than just ignore me. Or tell me Wait wait wait that kind of thing. This is again guys. Maybe this isn’t for you. But this is what I found helpful for us.

There’s an episode I did a while back on taking a day of rest as mums and if you have any faith background, you might call this the Sabbath. And I have started taking Sundays off social media specifically Instagram. I don’t go on to instgram on Sundays until 10, at night when everyone’s in bed, and then I’ll, oh, do I have any messages, I’ll just go check that. But that’s been a really freeing experience. And I still catch myself sometimes opening up the app and be like, Oh, it’s Sunday and shutting down. That habit is just so ingrained, but I do find it really freeing to be like, No, I just put this away today, and I’m going to read books, I’m going to do something, I don’t need that distraction right now.

I also have turned to reading books on my Kobo, I got an e reader for Mother’s Day. And I think anytime that you can move away from using your phone for all of the things, it just reduces the amount of distractions that you would fall trap to, I know, if I’m reading on the Library app on my phone, I’ll read something, I’ll be like, Oh, I should Google that. And then I’ll start Googling it. And then I’ll go to Instagram. And then the next thing I know, I stopped reading, and I’m just scrolling Instagram. So that’s been a physical boundary that has been helpful for me.

And one last limit I set for myself is to limit how I use it, how I use specifically social media. When you’re working online, when you have an online component to your business, there’s so much pressure to be in all the places posting all of the things. And I really bought into that for a long time. Because I wanted to grow my business. I wanted to reach more moms, I wanted to do more coaching. And I had to stop and step back and say what is worth my time? Is it worth my time to spend hours in my day on Instagram or Facebook, if that actually doesn’t grow my business? But I don’t think this is just for people who have online businesses, I think it’s a question for everyone. What are we posting and why? I’m going to share a story. And this isn’t to tell you how to live your life. This is just a mindset shift that I’ve made for myself. About five years ago, I was doing a mom’s 30for30 That’s when you were 30 items of clothes for 30 days. Anyways, I’ll link that in the show notes if you want to read about those.

But I looked back on the photos I was sharing on Instagram of me and my outfits for that month. And it hit me that my whole feed was now full of pictures of me instead of my kids. And I realized that my Instagram had become more about them, and sharing them and less about me. And I don’t know about you. But in the people I follow. I’m more interested in the mother and her experiences and what life is like for her than I am really of what the kids are doing. Your kids are cute, but I’m more interested in you. Like you’re my person right now.

So I had just my own personal mindset shift around sharing my kids and what I wanted that to look like and where I wanted to do that. And what what like what I’m really trying to say here is I had a mindset shift on how I wanted to use social media for my business for me for what I was trying to do. So I’m going to link that post about Instagramming. My kids in the shownotes, if you’re interested again, it’s not one way is right is just another idea another option.

Since I released the last episode, some of you have reached out to me and let me know how much you’re paying attention how much you find yourself, just by reflex opening up the phone, app hopping looking from app to app looking for something you’re not even really sure. Kind of like when you’re hungry, and you keep opening the fridge and you’re like maybe something will be there. Now maybe now you’re just like, looking for something, but I don’t really know. And you spend a lot of your time just scrolling around and flitting around on your phone. And you’ve shared with me how it’s just helped you to realize what’s happening. Put it down, proactively look up and go do something.

And really my best advice is this when it comes to being intentional with your phone, go on your phone for a reason. This helped me out so much when I said I’d take coffee breaks when my kids were younger, I was keeping a list written down of all the things that I wanted to check, or Google or people I wanted to follow up on or check out their account or whatever. I was keeping that list as it would pop into my mind throughout the day. And then when it came for me to sit down on my phone, I’m like, hey, what on this list do I actually want to do now. Because in the moment when that idea came in, I would have just picked it up and done it. But I really wanted to work on picking up my phone for a reason going on it for a reason.

So as we’re being intentional with how we use our phones, I think it’s really also helpful to be intentional with how we use the time that we’re not now spending on the phone. So as you’re on your phone less, what will you turn to? How do you want to spend your time more intentionally so that this change feels like it’s been worth something and the worksheets, again, are going to take you through that.

And the worksheets are going to help you also set a challenge for yourself one simple thing you’re going to change. And I just really want to keep encouraging you that if we don’t set boundaries on how we use our phone, nobody else will in fact, we are in a culture where it’s more and more accepted as a society that we are just staring at a piece of glass in our hands all day long. So we need to challenge this we need to challenge the status quo. And we need to decide what we want.

And as you’re starting to do this as your Starting to think of the reasons you have for checking your phone now and the reasons you turn to your phone, you will need to do the work of changing your mind changing your mind on what’s important. Can those emails wait another hour? Can you challenge that sense of urgency that you give things that most things aren’t that urgent. And if we keep treating like them like that, like the emails and the notifications, if we keep treating them as urgent, this keeps perpetuating the anxiety, we have to always be on and available.

We need to change our mind, we need to really pay attention to the thoughts we have about our phones, and why it’s important so that we can see what we’re thinking we can see what we’re dealing with, and start challenging it.

And I just, I’m not gonna lie to you and tell you that this is easy. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. It will be uncomfortable. You know, all of those limits that I shared with you that I have for myself, there’s a reason I had to set all of those boundaries, I had crossed over into autopilot mode, and my phone was getting the most attention, it was becoming the most important. So I’ve been doing the work to have unhooking from it. And really being intentional with how I want to use my phone and how I want to use my time not on the phone.

And even still, as I do this, I’m going to tell you, it doesn’t always feel great. Often I will pick up my phone, wonder what I’m missing out on and just start opening the apps to answer that question like the answers in there. And I have to remember, the scroll is infinite, I will always feel like I am looking for something that I’m missing out on. So I’m going to turn the phone off, I’m going to turn on the radio, I’m going to hear what the news has to say I’m going to rely that my friends will call me if they know that something is happening. And I don’t want to keep missing out on my life because I have a fear of missing out.

And remember, it’s uncomfortable. Because as we said in the last episode, you have taught your brain to get dopamine from your phone and your brain has tied dopamine to you meeting your needs to you surviving. So that urge you have to check your phone is legit. And your brain is like we need this, we need to check our phone.

So you also need to do the work of sitting with that discomfort. And talking back to your brain that we actually don’t need this, it’s going to be okay, we don’t need our phone to survive. It’s going to take practice, it takes practice, to tolerate the discomfort of not just turning to your phone. It takes practice to establish these new habits. But ultimately, hopefully, this is going to start to free up time for you to free up emotional energy for you. So that you can have more of what you want. You can have more presence that you want to actually give into your life. You can find more passion about the things in your life, you can find more purpose in how you’re spending your time and your energy. And you can show up for the actual life you have and be an active participant in making it an enjoyable experience.

Alright, friends, I really hope you get those worksheets. I think they’re really valuable. I have also formatted them ironically enough to be viewed on mobile, because I know not everybody is going to be printing off paper. So those are in mobile form. Alright guys, you’ve probably connected the dots that life is crazy for me right now. I’m so thankful I had this episode pre drafted. So I could just show up and record it. The next episode, I’m scheduling for two weeks from now it’s been a weekly podcast, but in the light of things, TBD, to be determined. So really great ways to stay up to date are the email the simple Saturday’s email that’s always gonna come on on Saturdays. every other Saturday, the Instagram I’m sharing sometimes on Instagram over there and the Facebook community is a place for you to go if you have questions if you want support if you want to share some ideas that people are sharing there that I think are just really clever mom tips. So stop by there if that is something that you’re interested in. Alright friends, have a great week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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