Note: this post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Do you often find yourself picking up your cell phone whenever you have a few seconds free? I know I do. Whether I’m hoping someone has emailed me or am simply wanting to scroll through my Instagram feed (the one social media platform I still have for personal use), all too often, I find myself wasting minutes on my phone when I could be doing something far more valuable with my time.
One of my goals this year is to better manage how I spend my days. We don’t know how many minutes we’re allotted, and the last thing I want to do is to waste mine staring at a phone screen! With that in mind, I made a list of things I could do instead of turning to my phone. And I wanted to share it here on the blog in case anyone else needs a bit of help in this area, too.
9 Things To Pick Up Instead of Your Cell Phone
Babies don’t keep. We all know this, and yet we sometimes forget to pick up our babies - even the bigger ones - for a few minutes of snuggling. The next time you have a few minutes with nothing to do, put down your phone and pick up those precious little ones!
I’ve heard from numerous mamas - and even convinced myself of this on occasion - that it’s just too hard to make time for Bible study. But if we collected all the random moments we spend staring at our Facebook feed, checking our email for the 7th time, or watching silly Youtube videos, I think we’d be surprised at just how much time we really could redirect toward reading God’s Word! Feeling the urge to pick up your phone? Grab your Bible instead!
Your favorite read
Right along with Bible study, dedicated reading time seems to have gone out the window for many of us. Yet we can greatly enrich our lives by reading good books! I don’t usually sit down for 30 minutes of reading, but by leaving my current reads in strategic places around the house, I can sneak in a paragraph here and a half page there, which add up to getting through a few books a year. Getting into the habit of picking up a book instead of a phone can pay off. (Want to know my favorite titles? You can find them right here!)
I love knitting, crocheting, sewing, playing the piano…exercise? Not so much. And it shows. I went from running 3 miles a night in college to being a fluffy marshmallow now. And picking up a screen isn’t going to help! But by picking up my feet and going for a quick walk - or even just standing and stretching frequently throughout the day - I can improve my circulation, use a few muscles, and work on getting back into shape.
Your dust rag
When I was growing up, we dusted the house on a weekly basis. It was just one of several chores that my mom worked into our routine. But with the busyness of raising my own little ones and the fact that I really hate dusting, it’s not something I took with me into adulthood. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one! While dusting your home won’t make you more saintly, doing a simple, short cleaning chore when you have a few minutes of spare time is one way to quickly improve your homemaking.
When was the last time you hand-wrote a note to a friend or family member? Although much of physical mail has gone by the wayside with the invention of email and texting, there’s something extra special about a note in the actual mailbox instead of the electronic one. If you keep note supplies on hand and easy to access, it’s almost as fast to jot a note than to type an email. (If you need tips, I like 100-count note card boxes like this, and my inner artist loves these Pilot pens.)
It’s super easy to grab your phone and snap a pic with its internal camera (if your phone’s storage isn’t used up, ahem). But when was the last time you got out your actual camera - the one not inside your phone - and took a legitimate picture? While there’s nothing wrong with using your phone camera to catch a memorable moment, it’s all too easy to get sucked into wasting time on your phone when you get it out to snap a photo. Again, to make it easy to grab your real camera, put it somewhere that’s easy to access, and if you’re an avid photographer, make sure your flash and camera hood are right there with it.
Do you ever wish the world would stop spinning quite so fast? While we can’t do anything to slow down our day physically, we can take a few moments to savor the morning. Instead of picking up your phone, try picking up your teacup (or coffee mug, if that’s how you roll - no judgment if you need the entire carafe!) for a few moments of reflection while you sip your favorite beverage. It doesn’t take much time to heat water and steep a tea bag - you can even use the microwave if you’re really short on time. (Be sure not to microwave the tea bag itself, as many of them have metal staples!)
I found that I was using my phone for checking the time…a lot. And every time I grabbed my phone to see the clock, I was tempted to take a quick peek at my texts. When I bought a watch for running (because, oddly enough, I hate carrying my phone when exercising), I became far less dependent on the clock in my phone!
Bonus: Your land line
Although most of us could stand to use our cell phones less, for those with a land line, picking it up to make an encouraging call to a friend or family member is a great way to spend your time. Texting has become so popular that placing an actual call almost feels weird at times! But just as there’s something special about receiving a snail-mail note, so an actual phone call instead of a text can make a huge impact on someone else’s life.
We’re all drawn to our cell phones. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong in using them for a variety of resources, we do need to be careful not to become addicted to them. Most importantly, we need to use our time wisely, and constantly dumping our spare minutes into phone use may not always be the best use of our time.
It will take deliberate determination to change our habits, but with effort, we can all reduce our phone time while improving on areas we’ve probably let lapse!
Your turn: How do you manage your phone use? What things do you do in order to avoid spending too much time staring at your screen?