A couple of weeks ago, inspired by this recent documentary, I did an audit of the apps on my phone, and basically broke them into 3 categories: 1) don’t use, 2) use, and 3) use too much. Categories 1 and 3 got voted off the screen.
Yup, too much. As in, beyond their functional usefulness. For example, during non-pandemic times, living in a city, I used rideshare apps a lot. Each use was with the very specific purpose of moving me from Point A to B. The result was a lot of use, but not “too much” use.
This would be in stark contrast to, for example, certain social media apps.
I realized I was opening those things for no good reason all day long. Well, there are reasons, but most of them are neurochemical and involve distraction from everything from overwork to boredom. Half the time, I didn’t even realize it was open until I’d been looking at it for a minute or more.
To be fair, I use social media for this site as well as others. I’m intentional about those posts, as I believe that social media has its upsides, and can actually be uplifting when curated well. But the mindless scrolling? I wouldn’t really describe that as intentional.
Listen, mindfulness instructors are human, too, ok? ;-)
In the past few years, I’ve done a lot of personal work around boundaries. It’s very much still in progress, because, reference above statement about mindfulness instructors. Most of the time when we think about boundaries, we relate them to relationships with the people in our close circle of family and friends.
Our relationships extend to everything we interact with, though. We are in relationship with our pets, the earth, ideas, media (how far is your phone from you right now? Ever??), and YES, also, ourselves. These exchanges are no different. They need attention, intention, and they need boundaries.
Ultimately, your relationship with everyone, and everything else, is about your relationship with yourself. Your boundaries lie exactly where your needs begin.
If you don’t think you know where that is, listen. Try mindfulness (we do it twice a week here, and yoga too, all online!). Your needs are never silent, but you can get really good at tuning them out.
You get to a decide where your energy and attention go. You get to decide what’s too much, just right, and not enough.
Excluding what you don’t need is how you create space for what you do. If it makes sense when you’re cleaning your room (and your phone!), it probably makes sense elsewhere, too.
Photo Credit: Chad Madden