Why I Don’t Track Phone Usage
People are surprised to learn that don’t track phone usage. We are still in January – the month that has 8,064 days in it. Many of those days we are bombarded with messages that we need to change just about everything about our lives in order to become a better person.
One of those hot resolution topics is how much we are on our phones. I have zero interest in this goal during this season of my life.
I was working on some digital clean up and found the setting on my phone where it outlined how much time I spent using my phone. On my Android phone it is called, “Digital wellbeing and parental controls.” This title really caught my eye because digital clutter is a component of Environmental Surroundings – one of the three pillars of Sustainable Productivity.
So I tiptoed into this section with more than a small amount of hesitancy – it can be hard to have your habits shown to you in cold hard data. But alas, what is measured is managed so in I went.
There was no “MOVE THAT BUS” big reveal. It was pretty much what I expected with a few pleasant surprises added in.
The truth is I use my phone a lot. But it is used for good as much as it is used for evil. Of the time spent that day, there was a greater percentage of time spent to support positive habits and activities. Here are a few examples:
Supporting Good Habits
- Audiobook apps: I listen to audiobooks while walking the dog, doing my physical therapy exercises, folding laundry, driving, and more.
- Spotify: While writing I need some ambient noise and instrumental playlists on Spotify provide this.
- Timehop: As part of my morning routine I look through Timehop to see what this day in history brought me (plus a little trivia). I often share the photos that come up with the people in them. It is fun to share with the kids and it often spurs conversation about what was happening in the memories.
- Alexa / Google Home: Each day Bixby and I use the Jeopardy skill to play our daily “J!6” over breakfast. Although it is still surprising to hear Mayim Byalik instead of Alex Trebek, it is a fun ritual we have over breakfast every day.
- Apple Music: Sometimes while drafting spreadsheets, closing support tickets, and updating meeting notes for my day job I just need a little hype to get moving. My “Mix Tape” playlist on my phone provides this.
- Clock: I use timers, alarms, and stopwatch features all day long. Timers to write or stretch for a certain amount of time. I have been using the stopwatch to time manuscripts I’m writing for YouTube videos. Alarms are set to put the laundry in the dryer or leave on time to get to the class at the quilt shop.
- Reminders: This is another feature that I could not be Sustainable Sue without. I don’t want to keep stuff in my head any more. I set a reminder to floss and do my gratitude journal at night. Other reminders nudge me for several activities for my elderly dad throughout the week. The “set it and forget it” approach clears space in my brain for creativity instead of the invisible work life gifts us.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the living room. I do use social media for more than just posting for Sustainable Sue business. I consume it as well. But I am clear about my purpose when I am opening these apps: mainly entertainment, connection, distraction. I know very clearly that when I am wading into Twitter at the end of a long day that I am just going for the train wreck. No one is more delighted than me to hang up from a contentious phone call at my day job and scroll Instagram Reels looking for videos of pandas somersaulting down a snowy hill.
Sometimes I catch myself just scrolling for the sake of scrolling – sometimes our thumbs have a mind of their own, right!? When I notice, I acknowledge (not shame) and close the app.
Sustainable You Questions
I share all of this to float the idea that just because others preach social media breaks and analog living, does not mean that you have to. You get to decide what is best for you. In order to do that you need to be aware. I encourage you to apply the Sustainable Productivity questions to your phone use.
- Is it productive – are you getting the result you want?
- Is it sustainable – can you continue this pace lifelong if you choose?
Based on the answers to these questions you can start to make small adjustments to those habits. Connect with me directly to learn more about how to do that or let me know how your phone usage is impacting your life.
If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know.
Until next time –