Don’t let your cell phone run your life!
Have you ever counted how many times you check your mobile phone every day? It’s probably more times than you think! Have you ever imagined you heard a ping, only to discover that nothing new has come in? Do you get together with friends, only to find that you are all looking down at your phones? And worst of all, have you caught yourself texting while driving? These are all symptoms of being too tied to our mobile phones.
If you feel like your phone is controlling your life, you are not alone. Many of us have a love-hate relationship with our phones. We love the convenience and speed of communication it gives us. After all, these are amazing devices! But at the same time, with every new app we download, we are starting to hate feeling addicted to our phones.
If you are ready to take back your life, try these steps to tell your cell phone who is boss!
1. Know your usage
Believe it or not, there are some apps that are designed to help you look at your phone less often! Some apps (like Checky or Moment) will check your cell phone usage. They show you how often you are checking your phone and what apps you are using most frequently. This can help you track your progress as you are cutting back.
2. Get an old-fashioned alarm clock
If you are one of the many people who uses their cell phone as their daily alarm clock, then picking up your phone is the first thing you do every morning. Instead, get an old-fashioned alarm clock, and wait until later in the morning to turn your phone on.
3. Work first, play second
Spending time on your phone, whether it’s playing video games, texting friends, or checking social media, is time that you’re not getting your work done. Instead, don’t allow yourself to get on your phone until you’ve accomplished your work for the day. This “work first, play second” approach can make you more productive.
4. Silence some or all of your notifications
It’s hard to resist the ping of your phone every time you hear it. It’s too tempting to just take a quick look to see what just came in. But this constant interruption can be counterproductive to getting much completed. It interrupts your ability to focus. Instead, turn off your notifications for all but your most important contacts. This way you won’t hear your phone beckoning you as often.
5. Take social media breaks
Do you love checking in every day to see what your friends are up to on social media? Do you spend time crafting the best photos and posts to share? There’s nothing wrong with this, but if it’s starting to consume too much of your time, you might need a break. It’s easy to do. Just post on your feed that you are taking a break. That way, your friends will not expect to hear from you. After a week or so, check back in. You’ll be glad you took the break.
6. Create no-cell-phone spots
One way to break the habit is to create spots where the cell phone is off-limits. This might include your bedroom, the dinner table—and definitely the car. Stick by these rules, and you will find that you are more engaged in the world around you.
7. No phone before bed
Looking at backlit devices before going to bed can disturb your sleep. Make sure you turn off your devices at least 1 hour before bed time. This will be better for your sleep, and it will help avoid any late-night web surfing, gaming, or social media binges.
8. Use a timer
When you are using an electronic device, it can be very consuming and absorbing. Before you know it, a whole hour of your day has been spent staring at your screen. To avoid this trap, try setting a timer. This way you are more conscious of how much time you are allowing yourself to spend online.
9. Tell your friends
For any habit that you are trying to break, it’s a good idea to tell your friends and family, and ask them to support you. This makes your goal public. It’s a great way to hold yourself more accountable. It will also explain to your friends why you are not responding to their pings as often or as quickly as you used to.
10. Find other things you love
If you’ve grown up with a phone or computer at your fingertips, you are not used to life without it. One way to get more engaged in the world around you is to find a new interest or a new hobby that’s not based on electronics. It could be a sport or an outdoor activity, or something more calming like art, music, or simply reading a book. There are so many interesting things to do that don’t involve looking at a screen. Give it a try!
With these tips, we hope you can take control of your phone rather than letting your phone control you! With the right effort, you can get connected with the wider world around you. You could be amazed by what you find!
The Harris Casel Institute provides a weekly blog with tips on lifestyle, health, and careers. Find out more about getting started in a new career path at Harris Casel.