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I’m on a plane with zero WiFi, no in-flight entertainment, and one book — and the flight is five hours and thirty-nine whopping minutes long. Not my ideal situation but hey, that’s travelling for you. Even though I’m fully aware there is no WiFi, I swear I picked my phone up at least six times. That’s almost once per hour. Yeesh.
I’ve become that person.
The person who swore to herself that she would not check her email every 30 seconds, or check Twitter because of all the negativity on it, or scroll through Instagram because she knew full well that it would send her into a spiral of comparing. Yep, I swore I wouldn’t do it, yet for most of 2017, I did exactly that — I became that person who takes her phone into the bathroom while peeing to watch a YouTube video. That person who can’t live without her Instagram feed for “inspiration”. That person who checks every finance and banking app to see if miraculously her money has mysteriously multiplied with zero effort involved.
This behaviour is the opposite of mindful, the opposite of intentional, and can be rather destructive psychologically. Even my cat knows this! When my cat wants to cuddle, she wants to cuddle and she will push my smartphone out of my hands to get my attention. Maggie is one smart cat — trying to tell her mama to put down the phone already.
When your cat is telling you to stop using your phone, well, it’s time to put down the phone.
Did you know that on average, we interact with our phones 2,617 times a day?! I mean, that’s insane! It boggles my mind but after 2017, I can believe it.
So let’s make a pact right now, to be more mindful and intentional about how much of our time (and emotional wellbeing) we let our phones suck away from us — because we’re better than that.
4 Ways to Be Less Addicted to Your Smartphone
1. START YOUR DAY BY NOT PICKING UP YOUR PHONE.
Want to make yourself absolutely nuts first thing in the morning and feel like a less than worthy human being? Pick up your phone.
I know, that was harsh. But it’s true. I cannot count the number of times that I’ve picked up the phone upon waking, turned it on, and started scrolling through social media, and within 5 minutes, I’d feel like a wilted daisy. I’d feel disconnected. Was I living my life wrong? How come she has that many followers and I don’t? Wait – what? She is sooo much more beautiful than me, no wonder she gets all the brand collabs. Why don’t I have a home that looks like that?! GAH!!!
The best thing I started doing was getting myself out of the habit of reaching for my phone first thing in the morning. I made a pact with myself to not look at my phone for the first hour of the day (even when I was working a 9-5 job). Sure, it started out slowly where I couldn’t resist it for more than 5-10 minutes, but eventually, I got to the whole hour.
The trick? Get on with your morning routine that doesn’t include your phone. Distracting your mind also works well. How? Well, be intentional and tell your brain that you want an amazing start to the day and that doesn’t include your phone. You want inner peace not inner chaos.
2. TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS.
Can I just say that notifications must die? I mean, it makes me crazy seeing the little red glaring icon with a number. It makes me feel as though I’ve forgotten to do something or get back to someone. It puts me on edge.
My loathing of notifications started with my last sales job where our smartphone was our primary tool for interacting with customers. It turned into a Pavlov theory reaction where I had a conditioned response to the chiming, dinging, and glaring red icons. I would cringe every time I heard a chime. I felt an urgency to pick up the phone asap and deal with whatever request was behind the notification. The problem was because of this I would respond too quickly and condition customers to expect a response within 5 minutes. Which, of course, meant that if they didn’t hear from me within 5-15 minutes, they’d email again or call. Holy stress levels batman!
It would literally stress me out. My fight or flight response would kick in and no one should live in that heightened state for 8-10 hours a day.
Finally, I had enough and turned the sound off on my phone for good.
Then I chose not to take ANY phone calls while in the car. No driving and talking. PERIOD.
And lastly, I started deleting apps. Starting with Facebook.
Want to delete unused apps in iOS11 on your iPhone? Turn on the Offload Unused Apps feature or you can also do it manually.
3. MOVE YOUR PHONE TO ANOTHER ROOM.
If it’s within reach, you’ll use it. Like they say — out of sight, out of mind.
Funny story — while watching a movie, I’d hide my phone under one of the pillows on the couch, but simply because I knew it was there, I’d reach for it. Next thing I knew, I’d missed 30 minutes of a movie I paid $4.99 to rent off Apple TV. I’d totally get sucked into pinning the best of minimal interiors, googling how to earn more money, or scanning Twitter for what everyone was up to.
Hello, addicted to smartphone land. Goodbye normal human activities.
Move your phone to another room and because you have to get up and go find it, you won’t. You’ll stay present and focused on what you’re doing.
4. DO THINGS THE OLD SCHOOL WAY AND/OR USE LESS APPS.
Personally, I don’t keep a lot of apps on my phone. I find it overwhelms me and I get a feeling my phone is cluttered. Instead, I opt to do things the old school way.
If I want to meditate, I meditate. Simple, no muss, no fuss. I don’t need Headspace or Calm telling me what I already know – that I can’t sit still and meditate for more than 1 minute (yet another topic for another day). Instead, I simply sit on my bed and get it done. If I want to light a candle to help, I light a candle (this is one of my faves).
And because I love lists, I put them down in my Day Designer planner. If I put them on my phone, I end up duplicating stuff or forgetting about them entirely (which, again, makes me duplicate them — haha).
For waking up, I use this amazing I can’t live without it wake up light alarm clock that gently wakes you up. Besides, once I read the whole ‘having your phone beside your head while you sleep’ affects your brain waves and your sleep cycle, that was a big no thanks to the phone.
Honestly, if I have too many apps or store things on my phone, I have to take time out of my week to purge the digital clutter. And this means I’m less productive.
By adopting these simple methods into my life, it allows me to be more intentional with my life and how I spend my time. I use my phone wisely instead of wasting it on a social media binge. Being more mindful of my phone use has allowed me to improve my mindset by not getting stuck in a nasty comparison trap.
And when all else fails, be mindful of the fact your phone is giving you digital dementia.
Are you addicted to your smartphone? Are you mindful of how much you use it? How do you stop yourself from reaching for it?
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