Does it seem like your smartphone is taking over your life? What’s the last thing you do at night and the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? That’s right check your phone. We do it in the car (hopefully at stop lights), in line at Starbucks, at the hairdresser, at the airport, at the bus stop, during meetings, on the train, on vacation—you name it. In a study by Asurion, nearly a quarter of people (23%) have even taken a work-related call while in the restroom, and 63% admit to rarely going to the bathroom without their phone. New research shows that the average U.S. adult will spend 3 hours and 43 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2019. For the first time ever, U.S. consumers will spend more time using their mobile devices than watching TV!
Do you suffer from separation anxiety if you’re apart from your phone for too long? These practical tips will help you develop healthy smartphone habits, so you can focus on the things in life that really matter.
1.) Fight fire with fire
If you want to limit your cell phone use, many apps can help! The Space app, for example, is a leading phone addiction solution. With the app, you can set goals and track daily progress to ultimately break free from your phone. Another app is QualityTime. This app provides a fun, easy-to-navigate timeline of your smartphone activities. The dashboard lets you view the top apps that consumed the most time, addictive apps by access frequency and usage by individual app. You can then set time limits for your device or even connect to the free web-based service If This Then That (IFTTT) to alert you when you overuse your phone.
2.) Kick it out of the bedroom
There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to remove your smartphone from your bedroom. For one thing, using your phone within an hour of bedtime leads to poor sleep quality and insomnia. If you check your phone every time you wake up during the night, your sleep is even more negatively impacted. Then when you wake up and check your phone in the morning, you are reinforcing the habit for the rest of the day. Instead, buy an alarm clock and charge your phone outside of your sleeping area.
3.) Set a schedule
Set up a digital schedule. Assign specific blocks of time throughout the day to go phone free. Even go so far as to reserve that time on your calendar and protect it like you would any meeting. Turn your phone off (or on airplane mode) for a few hours a day at the office so you can work without distraction. Leave your phone in the other room (or on a shelf or in a drawer) in the evenings in order to spend more quality time with your family.
4.) Turn off notifications
Turn off all notifications that don’t require immediate attention. Some examples are Facebook, Twitter and every app with a “follow” function. Turn off your email alerts too. After all, you’re already checking your phone more than you need to! When you download a new app, disable notifications (or just don’t enable them). If some alerts are important, make them silent and hide them from your lock screen. They still might get your attention once you open your phone, but at least they won’t entice you to start a new browsing session. Lastly, do some housecleaning and remove any apps you don’t need or that cause you to be unproductive.
5.) Do a detox
It’s easy to feel addicted to our smartphones. Consider doing a digital detox to reduce stress, focus on social interaction and connect with nature. “People are always amazed by how different they feel after not being on their phones and that motivates them to want to keep going,” says Tanya Goodin, author of OFF. Your Digital Detox for a Better Life. Goodin devised a 7-day digital detox that will allow you to unplug and recharge (easing you in gently vs. going cold turkey):
Day 1: Leave your phone outside your bedroom overnight. Get an alarm clock or turn up the volume on your phone so you can hear its alarm easily. Continue this all week.
Day 2: Put your phone in a central place when you return home and go to the location of the phone (rather than carrying it around with you) if you need to check it.
Day 3: Take work email off your phone (notify everyone in advance that you’re doing this).
Day 4: Go out to dinner, lunch or an evening event/gym session and leave your phone behind.
Day 5: Keep your smartphone on airplane mode as a default all day; take it off this mode only when you need to use it.
Days 6 and 7: Your complete digital detox! Keep your phone switched off and put away from 7 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday.
Technology isn’t going away, so it’s up to us to learn to manage it. If we can successfully tap, swipe and click less, we’ll be able to connect, communicate and experience more.