UP FOR DISCUSSION … Do you feel you are spending too much time on your phone? I have for a long time, yet recently took the time to review HOW I was using my phone. As a caregiver, I feel a little better about it now.

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I recently found the need to get a new cell phone.  It was a traumatic switch, but slowly I am relearning the device and find that my phone habits haven’t changed much with this newer, sleeker 5G version.  But it has a very annoying feature and I have yet to take the time to find how to turn it off.  Each week my new phone gives me a concise report that tells me exactly the amount of time I spend on my phone, both by day and for the entire week.  At first glance, I am appalled.  On average, since getting this new device, I have averaged almost 15 hours a week … well over 2 hours each day sitting with my phone.  And, as if I really needed to know, it also tells me the apps where I am spending the most time.  No surprise, my two plus hours each day are spread across Google, Facebook, and Gmail.  The first time I saw this report I was not happy and vowed to do better.  In fact, the weekly tally has been more or less consistent now for an entire month.  Finally, this morning I thought about how I could possibly be in those three spaces so much and realized that as a caregiver it all makes perfect sense!

Google has become my encyclopedia, my news channel, my dictionary, phone book, and atlas, and the very best way to stay in touch with the budding romance known as TNT!  You Swifties will understand what I am talking about.  There is not a day that goes by that I am not looking up something on Google … correct spellings, word definitions, medical terms, football scores, crossword clues, locations, phone numbers – the list goes on and on.  Caregivers deal with a lot of questions.  Google is my education tool, for better or for worse!

Facebook has become the very best way to keep current with my family and friends both at a distance and even close by.  As a caregiver my human interaction with all the people that I care about is so limited that I relish the pictures posted, the sentiments shared, and the good news I find there.  I also use Facebook to participate in several Caregiver Support Groups … a private way to “hear” what other caregivers are saying and to learn from their experiences.  Some I never post anything in; others I share my history in the hopes that something I say may be the exact information another caregiver needs.  Humorously, I recognize that things I read there often send me back to Google to research an idea or phrase I am unfamiliar with!

And what can I say about Gmail, except that I receive hundreds of messages each day.  Time spent there is devoted more toward deleting the unread multitude of advertisements, shared opinions from well-meaning friends, and other noise that arrives daily.  The rest is spent in responding to the business of life – bills, inquiries, communications, etc.  The day of phone calls and the U.S. postal system has totally given way to conducting life through email.  Even with that much activity, it still falls third on the utilization list!

I have long understood that my phone pretty much runs my life.  The other day I left home without it and felt almost crippled.  I could not access my calendar to confirm a new doctor’s appointment.  I had no diversion as I waited my turn in the waiting room.  And for a brief moment I wondered how I would find help if I became stranded 18 miles from home.  There were no checking cameras to view what was happening with my loved one.  And, also humorously, I remember feeling counterproductive for I could have been using that downtime to clean up emails.  We now live entirely in a world where connectivity on a multitude of fronts is done through the pocket tool called a cell phone.  Spending hours a day with it begins to make better sense.  Clearly, with it, I feel less alone.  Perhaps it’s not a prison, but more of a sanctuary!


Up for Discussion:  How much time each day do you spend doing something on your phone?  Is it a useful tool or a time thief?  Does it help you be a better caregiver?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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