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Legendary Life’s “No Phone Challenge” to Support Mental Health Blog Series:

Post #3: “The Rules of the Game”

This is the 3rd in a series of blogs that we will be posting in conjunction with Legendary Life’s launch of our “No Phone Challenge” Remember to download the LiveYourLegendaryLife Phone App for iPhone and Android (insert download links here). The app has a free “No Phone Challenge” Module as well as additional functionality and content to assist you with the challenge.

By now you might be ready to get down to the nuts and bolts of exactly what the No Phone Challenge is and how to get started.

In the first blog post in this series I talked a bit about the evolution of the mobile phone. From the 1990’s, when the mobile phone was essentially a wireless landline with poorer reception. To the present day, and the do-everything supercomputer that has an oversized and unhealthy hold on our collective psyches. 

In the second blog post in this series I described the alarming mental health crisis that we are in the midst of and its connection to our screen time. And thus the impetus for the No Phone Challenge.

By now you may be itching to dive in and give the challenge a go. Well, good news then. This post is all about how to get started. Just the nuts and bolts of how to successfully navigate what we believe will be a positive, powerful, difficult at times, yet fun experience for all who dare take it on.

The Legendary Life “No Phone Challenge” is fun, positive, easy-to-participate-in, and for all-ages. We are encouraging our entire community and beyond to consider participating in this important challenge. The No Phone Challenge is designed to encourage and incentivize people to create a regular practice of turning their phone off and disconnecting from technology for a certain amount of time per day as well as disconnecting and not using your phone while performing certain activities which would normally involve high utilization of your device.

Legendary Life will provide you with all the free tools, technology, and framework of suggested rules you need to successfully tackle this challenge while at the same time having fun, spreading awareness about an important topic and promoting some friendly competition across your communities.

Please keep in mind, this challenge isn’t anti-phone, anti-tech, anti-corporate or anti-anything. All of these things can be positive when used consciously as tools. However, they aren’t positive when they are using you as a tool. Our phones are wonderful tools that we’ve been programmed to see as extensions of our lives. One of the goals of this challenge is for you to consciously deprogram yourself to once again see your phone, its apps, and the content it connects you to as simply tools to enhance you, educate you, and connect you to people, places, and things in the real world.

So here we go…

Base Challenge Components:

  • Phone off 4X / day:
    • While you sleep
    • 1 hour in morning after waking
    • 1 hour in evening before bed
    • 1 additional “flex” hour during the day
  • Positive Morning & Evening Routines
  • Journal at least once per day.
  • Gratitude Practice.
  • Daily Act of Service
  • Daily Reconnection
  • No & Low Socials
  • No arguing with or criticizing anyone online. At all.
  • No Corporate News. At all.
  • 66 Days in a row. 

Optional “Legend Level” add-ons:

All of the Level 1 criteria + add in some or all of the following:

  • Conduct a detailed time management assessment and Implement a time management strategy.
  • Implement a new minimalism strategy
    • At least 15 minutes per day of physical and / or digital decluttering.
  • Dedicate at least 30 minutes per day to education / learning.
  • Delete the social media apps from your phone altogether. Only access your socials on your laptop / tablet during scheduled times.
  • Turn your phone on silent with no vibrate all day (make your calendar notifications, your significant other and children the only exceptions)
  • Stop answering unscheduled phone calls altogether. Change your voicemail to tell people to email or text you their issue.
  • Implement “office hours” for replying to emails as well as texts, Slack communications, etc. Especially for business / work communications.

Successfully Complete the Challenge?:

  • Tag 3 friends to take on the challenge 
  • Share your experience: Make & post a video of your experience when you complete the challenge, write a blog post or send us your story. Or simply journal about your experience and talk about it within your communities.

Detailed Challenge Parameters:

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  1. Phone is turned off 4X / day: There are three mandatory times that you must shut off your phone each day as well as one additional “flex hour”. Your phone should be completely shut off:
    • while you sleep. 
    • for the first hour after you wake (while you are executing on your morning routine)
    • For the final hour of the day before you go to bed (while you are executing on your evening routine)
    • For an additional “flex hour” of your choice during the day. This can be during your lunch, your dinner, your gym time, during your daily walk, coffee break. Whatever you prefer.
  1. Create and Execute on positive, healthy, and personalized morning and evening routines each day: Create and execute on a healthy morning routine during the one hour your phone is shut off after you wake up and also create and execute on a healthy evening routine during the one hour your phone is shut off before bed. There’s some flexibility here and an opportunity to integrate elements into your morning and evening routines that are aligned with your unique mindset, body clock, lifestyle, and responsibilities. A good rule of thumb would be that a healthy morning & evening routine should generally take between 45 – 90 minutes each. Here are some ideas for components to integrate into your morning & evening routines. Remember, many of these can be combined and done at the same time (like sunshine & exercise or tea & journaling or journalling & gratitude, to name only a few examples). You will be surprised with how much you can fit into an hour or so with a bit of planning and intention. Remember, not everything is for everyone. We aren’t suggesting you incorporate everything on our list. Pick and choose the things that feel right for you. For example, you may have trouble meditating but you enjoy doing affirmations. So forget the meditation and do a 5 minute affirmation practice instead (or vice versa). Morning & Evening Routine Suggested Components:
    • Journaling
    • Gratitude practice
    • Breath work
    • Cold shower / cold plunge / ice bath
    • Intermittent fasting / not eating in the morning or after sundown (or not after mid evening for those that live in areas where the sun goes down early during certain times of the year)
    • Meditation
    • Affirmation Practice
    • At least 20 minutes of natural sunshine and fresh air in the morning. Ideally in nature. If you live in an urban area maybe there is a park, nature trail, river or shore walk, etc. that you can easily access.
    • yoga
    • Physical exercise: This can be as simple as a brisk walk, or a 10 minute routine of body weight exercises in your living room or it can be a hard core workout at the gym.
    • An act of service.
    • Organizing / Planning / cleaning / decluttering / minimalizing
    • Education & inspiration
    • At least one act of self care: This can be lighting your favorite scented candle or burning your favorite incense. It can be enjoying your favorite tea, having a bite of an exotic cacao, etc.
  1. Journal: Implement a journaling practice at least once per day or even consider doing it twice per day. Journaling is a great way to bookend your days. Do any kind of journaling you wish whether it be free form journaling or guided journaling using prompts. Implement your gratitude practice as a subset of your journaling practice. However, don’t make gratitude the only component of your journaling. Manual journaling with a pen and paper is much preferred to digital journaling. Digital is better than no journaling in a bind but manual journaling should be the goal.
  1. Gratitude Practice: Start and end your day with gratitude. Write down at least one (but it can be more than one!) thing that you are grateful for. Again, this can be combined with your journaling. It’s important to make your gratitude practice a written and verbal practice and not just practice the gratitude in your head. Manually writing on paper while speaking the words gives exponentially more power to the practice than just focusing mentally on the things you are grateful for. Like journaling, manually writing out your gratitude with pen and paper (as opposed to typing it on a phone or computer) is much preferred and much more powerful.
  1. Daily act of service: This doesn’t have to be complicated, costly or time consuming. You don’t need to spend four hours per day volunteering at a food bank or homeless shelter. This doesn’t mean you have to spend / donate any money at all. This can easily be combined / stacked with other aspects of the challenge as well. For example, you can incorporate a daily act of service into your morning and / or evening routines. This can be as simple as bringing a little trash bag on your daily walk in your neighborhood park and picking up some trash along the way on the trail. It can be checking in and having a quick chat with an elderly neighbor or giving some leftover food, toiletries, or old clothing to one of the homeless in your neighborhood. Donate or volunteer at the local animal shelter or wildlife rehabilitation organization. Help a sick friend or family member by running an errand for them or bringing them a meal.
    • One big caveat on this one. There is no documenting of your acts of service allowed. No posting about them. No discussing publicly the details of what you are doing for your acts of service. Acts of Service are not about virtue signaling, humblebragging, one upping others’ acts of service, or trying to raise your status by humiliating a person in need by recording your interaction with them. If you record or brag about your act of service you have failed both the letter and the spirit of the challenge and must start over.
  1. Daily Reconnection: Reconnect with a different old friend, acquaintance, schoolmate, business colleague, family member, teammate, etc. Each day, reach out and make contact with at least one person per day from your past or someone you haven’t touched base with in a while. The goal here is to simply check in on them, catch up and say that you were thinking of them and hoping they were well. No business agenda allowed. The only “agenda” here is to reconnect with someone from your life that is or was important to you at some point but that you may not have kept up with on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be someone that you had a falling out with (although it can be) and there’s no pressure to maintain a regular cadence with this person once you have reconnected. It’s just about reestablishing a genuine connection and checking in on people. It can be as simple as sending a short but authentic text, voice message, or email. Also, it’s important to go into this task with no expectations. Don’t be upset or project any meaning onto the response or lack thereof. It’s ok if the person takes two weeks to respond or sends back a basic, one sentence response or even if they don’t respond at all. For a deeper dive on the daily reconnection component read Legendary Life co-founder Lee’s great blog post on the value of intentional reconnections here.
  1. No & Low Socials: This aspect of the challenge is another opportunity to focus more on being fully present with wherever you are and whatever you are doing in the universe and focus less on what others are posting in the metaverse. Reducing use of your socials also serves to reduce any FOMO anxiety that you may frequently experience from constantly keeping tabs on what everyone in your life wants you to think they are experiencing. The idea here is to use your socials intentionally and not to give in to the subconscious programming that has been done to you that makes you want to pick up your phone and mindlessly scroll your feeds like a zombie every time you are bored, distracted, uncomfortable, etc. There are three major parameters for the No & Low Socials part of the challenge. 
    • Commit to a personal blackout of social media for two full days each week: Pick any days you want. Even switch up the days each week if you wish. However, one of the days you choose each week should be a weekday and one of the days should be on a  weekend. 
    • But wait, there’s more! On your Schedule your socials time on your non-blackout days in order to be intentional about your social media use. (AKA: Use your socials as if they were your personal tools of communication and connection and don’t let the social media companies use you as their tool): This is also about being intentional during the days that you are on social media. So that means that you are going to schedule your social media time for the days of the week that you aren’t taking off completely from social media. The rule is that you commit to spending no more than 60 minutes per day total on the days you are on socials. Also, schedule the time in advance. For example, tell yourself that you are going to spend 30 minutes on your mid morning coffee break catching up on socials and another 30 minutes before dinner. 
      • Legend Level Add-On: If you want to execute this part of the challenge at the “Legend Level” then delete the social apps off your phone completely so that you will have to access your accounts exclusively on your laptop or tablet. This will help you pattern interrupt your subconscious programming that makes you mindlessly open up and zombie scroll your Instagram or twitter without even thinking about it every time you are in line at the coffee shop, on the metro or walking down the street. I think most of us would admit that there are many occasions where we have opened up one of our social accounts without really ever making a conscious decision to do so. We were simply bored or anxious or distracted and all of a sudden realized we have been mindlessly scrolling for 20 minutes. 
    • Don’t photograph it. Don’t post about it. Just experience it: The final part of the No & Low Socials is another opportunity for you to be more fully present in whatever real world experience you are having without having to worry about documenting it and putting it online. For this part of the challenge you are going to complete (at least) one type of activity or experience per week that you’d normally document and post about without doing so. Allow me to explain. Are you a foodie who always has to photograph and post that meal at whatever trendy, new restaurant you are eating at on Saturday night? Do you usually find it necessary to post a clip of you sweating through your Soul Cycle class? Do you go out on your friend’s boat and need to let the world know that you are indeed on a boat? Well, don’t. Pick one of these experiences each week that you’d normally post about and just experience it. Focus on being present and enjoying what you are doing without the pressure of interrupting the flow of the experience by trying to get and edit the perfect picture or video clip. For those of you that feel the need to always document every restaurant experience you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at how much better your food tastes when you eat it while it is still hot, immediately after it’s been served and not 10 minutes later after your personal photo shoot has been completed. Your dining companion will be in a better mood as well when they can dig into their dish without waiting on you.
  1. No arguing with or criticizing anyone online. At all: One would think that this one should be a pretty self-explanatory, straightforward and easy to accomplish part of the challenge. However, something tells us that this one is going to be difficult for some people. It’s really simple. For the course of this challenge don’t argue with, criticize, bully, throw shade, “dunk on”, exhibit snark, self-righteousness, condescension, virtue signal etc. at all to anyone online. That includes in the comments section. That includes tweets, retweets, comments, etc.criticizing the statements or positions of celebrities, thought leaders, influencers, political leaders, or others that have a higher perceived status than you. I know for some people the thought of letting what they perceive as an ignorant, or untrue, or unkind statement by anyone, anywhere, ever stand without their input is just unthinkable. You may even believe that you are helping…someone or something by “correcting” someone or that you are “getting the truth out” or maybe you feel like you are being an ally to and “defending” some traditionally marginalized community. You may even feel like you are simply defending yourself. Maybe you posted something on one of your feeds and someone was being rude, ignorant, bullying, aggressive, or just generally troll-like in your post’s comments section. So what? Just let it be. Do you think responding in kind will make anything better? Do you think if you really dunk on someone you will win the Internet for the day and somehow raise your own status by kicking down at someone else? When was the last time you saw someone with a difference of opinion have someone criticize or insult them and then have that person say, “wow, thank you. Based on your insults, condescension and snark I have completely reconsidered my position and come around to your point of view”. You know it doesn’t work that way. Your insults and snark are doing nothing more than inappropriately building your own ego and giving you a very short term, perverse sort of adrenaline burst so that you can “feel something”. So for the length of this challenge just be nice. If you can’t be nice then at least don’t be an asshole. Be neutral. Be empathetic. If you don’t like someone’s comment in your personal feed then simply delete the comment. If someone makes a habit out of posting argumentative or negative responses to your posts or displays bullying, or trolling behavior then simply block their account without comment and move on.
  1. No Corporate News. At all: Again, this one should be pretty much self explanatory. Simply do not consume any corporate news. At all. From any side of the political spectrum. This includes accessing clips of corporate news content that might be on YouTube, your Twitter feed, etc. Similar to the social media companies, television news, and indeed all corporate / mainstream news works on a very particular business model. This business model is in place to serve their advertisers and investors. It isn’t there to serve the general public’s desire to be informed citizens. This isn’t “news”. This is content that’s been curated and fed to you in a very intentional way that is meant to anger and scare you such that you will maximize your viewing time and thus allow them to increase their rates to their advertisers. Some may say, “But it’s my civic duty to know what’s going on in the world and be educated on current events”. Well, corporate news is not there to educate you on current events. Their business model works like this:
    • The news companies make their profit primarily based on the revenue they receive from their sponsors and advertisers. 
    • The amount of money that the market will allow them to charge their sponsors and advertisers is based on how many viewers / listeners / downloads / clicks, etc. that their company’s content receives. 
    • It has been proven time and time again by various psychological studies that people will watch, download, click on content more often and for longer periods of time when they are angry or scared than when they are experiencing positive emotions.
    • Therefore, these news corporations intentionally curate stories that will keep their audience angry and scared. That doesn’t mean that these stories are necessarily false. It means that any positive story, any news about people coming together and helping to solve a problem are going to be buried, minimalized, and marginalized. Just because that’s how their business model is optimized. So just like we need to outsmart the social media algorithms that are in place with the objective of programming us to open their apps without even consciously thinking about it and then to mindlessly “zombie scroll” our feeds (and their advertisers) for hours on end, we need to also reprogram ourselves to not fall into the trap of craving that “high” of feeding on content that we know is going to keep us scared and / or angry.  

Ok, so no corporate news and completely minimize other sources of news. Just like your social media time, be intentional about scheduling your news consumption for one, specific, 15 minute time block each day of news consumption. Seek out independent sources that don’t rely on corporate advertisers and sponsors to survive. Don’t mindlessly consume “news” as a source of background noise. Don’t stare at a TV news station that might be on the gym TV.  Finally, balance out 15 minutes of “bad news” with at least 15 minutes of positive news consumption per day. There are various feeds and email services that focus on only positive news. For example, a couple of us at Legendary Life subscribe to “Nice News” which sends their subscribers a daily email filled with nothing but positive news stories. Use this link to check them out and subscribe if you feel called. But to be clear, we aren’t suggesting that you bury your head in the sand to the world’s problems and only consume lighthearted, “feel good stories” while ignoring the serious issues that face the world. What we are saying is that you should balance your consumption. Positive & negative. Yin and Yang. Ask yourself this question. If you feel like it’s important to your role as that of an “informed citizen” to know every up to the second detail about every war, pandemic, act of terror, tyranny, prejudice, etc. then why don’t you think it’s also important to be up to the second on every piece of good news. Every act of kindness, every scientific breakthrough, every heroic rescue and recovery, every hero’s journey going on at the same time as all the horror? When you lay it out like that it seems obvious that the two are at least of equal value. However, since most of us have been programmed to exist in constant fight or flight mode we tend to gravitate to the negative and put more weight to the threats and horror and less weight to the positive. So how about you try and break the cycle and be intentional about what you are consuming and why. Consume information on your terms. 

  1. 66 days in a row: “Why is the goal of this challenge 66 days in a row? That seems like such a  random number!” Well, if you have studied habit ideology you may have stumbled over this number of 66 days. You see, studies show that it takes 66 days, on average, for people to develop a habit. And we are hoping that when this challenge is over that you will decide to make at least some of the elements of this challenge regular habits. What makes “a habit” different from other tasks that you perform on a regular basis? Well, when something has become a habit we no longer have to really think about performing the task. We have already wired the task into our subconscious and we tend to perform it pretty much on autopilot when possible. For example, brushing your teeth. For most adults in the developed world this is a habit. Very few of us tend to jump out of bed in the middle of the night in a panic because we realize that we haven’t brushed our teeth in a week. You’ve long ago made brushing your teeth part of your regular, daily routine. It just gets done without you having to think about it. You can think of many of your regular activities that are like this. Done on autopilot without much thought. For example, if you are a big coffee drinker do you ever “forget” to have your morning coffee? Of course not. You have a certain routine built around your first coffee of the day that you don’t put much thought into. Maybe you wake up and immediately turn the coffee maker on before heading into the bathroom. Maybe you have a certain neighborhood coffee shop you stop at every day on your way to work. Regardless, if you have made a “habit” out of your morning coffee then it becomes an automatic part of your routine. If you are a coffee person it’s pretty inconceivable that you will be sitting around at 2:00pm and think to yourself, “wow, I completely forgot to have my morning coffee today”. It just doesn’t happen. So one of the goals of this challenge is to challenge you to make some of these mentally healthy behaviors part of your day to day life far beyond the scope of the challenge period. And the way to do that is to make them habits and one of the ways to create a habit is to perform the same behavior for at least 66 days in a row. So the goal of the challenge is to perform all the tasks and meet all the criteria for 66 days in a row. Be tough on yourself. If you miss one task for one day then start over. Even if you are on day 65 of 66 and you miss one thing then you have failed. Start over and hit 66 days. You will thank yourself later. There is no shame in falling down or failing to complete the challenge the first time. The only shame is failing to get back up and try again. Also, if you fall off the wagon at any point prior to 66 days then own it, admit it, start over and also tag three new people to join the challenge. This is very important. Turn your temporary failure into a positive for someone else by encouraging them to participate in this healthy challenge.
No Phone Challenge - Success
  1. Successfully Complete the Challenge?: Congratulations! We know this wasn’t easy! If you feel called, then please consider making and sharing a video of yourself describing your experience with the challenge to your followers and the Legendary Life community. Also, challenge your people to take part in the challenge themselves! And consider making the challenge a lifestyle! Or at least incorporate elements into your day to day. At the very least we promise that after completing this challenge you will become much more intentional about your screen time and content consumption.

Miscellanea:

  • Keep track of your no phone time by downloading and using the Legendary Life “LiveYourLegendaryLife phone app (available for iPhone and Android).
  • Sign up to our mailing list where we will send out regular newsletter and other communications to stay up to date on all aspects of the challenge (we won’t spam you and you can one click unsubscribe anytime)
  • If you want to take part in the “Legend Level” components of implementing a time management assessment as well as a new minimalism practice there are additional modules in the LiveYour LegendaryLife phone app specific to those disciplines. We will also be drilling down on some of the advanced aspects of the challenge with additional content in future blog posts in this series.
  • The goal is to complete the challenge for at least 66 days straight (It takes 66 days to form a habit). If you fail to complete any component of the challenge for any day then start over at the beginning.
  • Journal at least once per day: At a minimum practice some gratitude journaling as well as briefly write about your daily experiences with the challenge. Feel free to keep this very short and simple or get verbose if the mood strikes you.
  • Sign up for the Legendary Life mailing list to receive our newsletters and get regular updates on the challenge. We promise not to spam you and you can unsubscribe at any time with one click. 
  • Consider turning your phone off at night and charging it in a completely different room (Use an alternative alarm source)
  • Do not turn your phone on for the first hour (minimum) of the day.
  • If you don’t have a positive morning routine then create one. Or if you already have one then execute it during the first hour (minimum) of the day when your phone is off.
  • Turn your phone off for at least one hour during the day while being outside. 
  • Complete one additional activity or set of activities of at least one hour during the day with your phone off. This should be an activity that would normally partake in while highly leveraging your phone (gym, coffee shop, lunch, waiting in line, etc.)
  • Turn your phone off once per week for the entirety of a social night out. No pictures, videos, social postings, etc.
  • No social media at all for two full days of the week. One weekend day and one weekday.
  • Start over / tag & challenge 3 other people when you miss completing a day.
  • Consider downloading and posting the custom Legendary Life No Phone Challenge graphics on your socials to let your community know where you stand in the challenge.
  • Consider sharing your No Phone Challenge Experiences with the community.
  • Caveats regarding any of the physical aspects of the challenge. Everybody’s different. We all are at different levels of fitness as well as having differing medical conditions and so on. Consult your doctor if necessary before taking part in any new strenuous activities or doing anything that could be a shock to your cardiovascular system, metabolism, etc. Even things like breath work, cold showers and intermittent fasting can be shocks to the system at first and may not be suitable at all to people with certain conditions. If you are new to exercise then you probably don’t want to start with a hard core crossfit routine on day 1. Some people have skin issues such that their doctors have limited their exposure to the sun. Others have physical issues that limit their walking or movement at all. So be careful, solicit professional advice when necessary, and customize and adapt everything to your individual bodies and abilities while maintaining the spirit of the challenge.

Next up in the No Phone Challenge Blog Series is “The Origin Story: Part 1 – Tales of Zombie Scrolling and Over-Documenting”

#LLnophonechallenge

Picture of Todd Luongo

Todd Luongo

A founding partner of Legendary Life, Todd Luongo is a respected and in-demand executive advisor, consultant and investor for Silicon Valley start-ups as well as being a serial entrepreneur in his own right. Todd is also an accomplished writer, in-demand speaker, independent film producer, ardent traveler, fitness enthusiast, history buff and lifelong student of the Universe.