Last weekend on my way to work I listened to a podcast and it changed my life.
I know that sounds a touch dramatic, but stick with me.
The podcast episode was called ‘When was the last time you peed without your phone?’. Just let that sink in for a moment.
As I sat on the train listening to the Note To Self episode, I had a little epiphany – I really didn’t need to be tied to my phone 24/7.
That nifty little gadget should not be controlling my life. I could receive text messages and not reply to them straight away, people could post things on Instagram without me constantly scrolling, and I really didn’t need to be on top of every dog meme circulating the internet.
All of that stuff, all the constant connectedness, was not more important than my insanity - and my creativity.
Note To Self started the Bored and Brilliant Boot Camp in 2015 when they challenged tens of thousands of their listeners to rethink their relationship with their phone, so they could actually be bored for once and hopefully jumpstart their creativity.
And now they're encouraging the rest of us to give it a go.
It's a four-day challenge that slowly and carefully makes you rethink everything you thought you knew about your own phone habits and how much they're dictating your daily life. It's not a digital detox, it's about making healthier digital choices for the rest of your life.
Here's what I learnt from completing the challenge:
Day 1: In Your Pocket.
I started the challenge on a Monday, like with every challenge/diet I've ever set for myself. But unlike with those fad diets, I actually made it through the day without bailing.
On the first day you have to put your phone in your pocket and actively stop yourself from reaching for it constantly. I'm a woman so naturally my pockets are small or non-existent, so I popped my phone in my handbag, zipped my bag up and tried really hard not to stare at my bag like a mad woman.
And you know what? After the first hour or two, I actually didn't miss it that much. I had to pull my phone out a few times throughout the day to call people for interviews, but apart from that I stayed away from it.
That night I found myself back strolling through Instagram as I watched TV, so I took my phone into my bedroom, plugged it in to charge and gave myself a few hours a phone free bliss.
Day 2: Photo Free Day.
On the second day you have to challenge yourself not to take any photos, or send any text messages - whichever would be the hardest for you to give up.
I'm pretty evenly spread over both - so I decided just to go full cold turkey. I wouldn't send a text message or take a photo all day.
And look, it wasn't that bad. I got through the day sans photo taking and text messaging and I didn't feel like I'd missed out on life, in fact, I felt the opposite.
That afternoon as I waited on the platform for my train (scrolling through my phone, because I was still allowed to look) I glanced up and noticed an alarming sight. I couldn't find anyone within a 10 metre radius of me who wasn't looking down at their phone. Every single person was fully engaged with their phone.
I immediately stuck my phone in my bag and kept it there until I got home.
Day 3: Delete That App.
On the third day you have to delete an app. I deleted Pinterest - which I LOVE but really doesn't serve any purpose in my life. I could spend hours scrolling through photos of indoor plants and inspirational quotes and not actually get off my butt and do something inspiring (or even water my indoor plants).
I also deleted a few redundant apps like old emails and apps that I only ever clicked on when I ran out of things to look at.
Day 4: Take a Fauxcation.
Lastly, on the fourth day you're supposed to put an 'out of office' message on your social media accounts and give yourself a 'fauxcation'.
Robin Bailey is stepping away from your emails. Post continues...
Truthfully, I didn't use the out of office message. I just stayed out of the office. I was visiting my friends and family in my home town, so it was great timing - I didn't want to be on my phone all day. I didn't post anything on social media and I went for hours without scrolling through my feeds. And when I had some spare time in the afternoon, I reached for a book instead of my iPhone. A book, guys.
I feel like my 'fauxcation' was a resounding success.
Of course, in the following days I've slowly crept back towards my old habits - but each time I do, I remind myself how amazing it felt not to be tied to my phone all the time.
Honestly, there were moments in those four days where I felt like a fog had lifted and I could connect with parts of my creative mind which had been laying dormant as I mindlessly scrolled for months on end.
Luckily - for all of us - the Bored and Brilliant Bootcamp is being made into a book and it'll be released this September.