Next time you’re on a train. Look around you. Everyone’s on their phones. It’s a bit eerie!
That pocket-sized supercomputer that contains your life. 1,270 times faster than the Apollo 11 guidance computer that guided man to the moon in 1969.
I often say –
“What the hell did we do before mobile phones?”
It’s difficult to remember. You had to make arrangements to meet someone and stick to it. Actually turn up on time. You had to use a map or ask for directions. You carried a separate camera.
It’s hard to tell how often the average person checks their phone. A general number coming out of reports is 80. That’s once every 18 minutes over 24 hours or every 12 minutes over 16 hours. Remember this is average. My Mum checks her phone about every 2 days, so there are some at the other end that check way over 80 times a day.
As the title of the post says. They distract us and stop us from doing the stuff we should be doing. The difficult stuff. It’s a form of procrastination that we welcome as it pulls us out of the monotony of modern life, if only for a few minutes.
As one of my favourite writers, Mark Manson says
“All reactions can be divided up in two ways: Solutions and Distractions”.
And our phones are a massive distraction.
There’s a time and productivity cost to checking your phone. It can take 25 minutes to refocus on the task at hand. They affect your sleep and Facebook can increase loneliness affecting your mental health.
If your phone is sucking the life out of you or sucking your life into it. Here are a few things that can help
The actual phone
Turn off your notifications – these are what distract us the most. The dopamine hit of a notification flashing up and then feeling we have to respond to it then and there. Turn them off.
Delete apps – Be brave. All it is a piece of software that enables you not go through a web page. If you are serious about trying to reduce screen time, delete them. You can always put them back, but it may work.
Play phone stack – when dining with friends, everyone puts their phones in the middle of the table, face down on top of one another. The first person to take their phone and check it has to pick up the bill or do the washing up.
Try Forest app – you set an amount of time you want to focus. You plant a seed in the forest. During the set time it grows and if you leave the app within the time you set, you kill the tree. Over time you can plant more trees and grow your forest.
Check your personal email twice a day. Turn the notifications off. This will massively increase your productivity.
Reduce the number of emails you get. Unsubscribe. Do you still need to be on the subscription list of the holiday competition you entered 5 years ago? Nope.
Be deliberate. Be present.
If you have 5 minutes to wait for a train or a friend, try not pulling your phone out.
Only look at your phone when you’re not engaged in another task.
Put your phone in the boot/trunk while you drive.
Go back to the old school
Nokia may well have tapped into the malaise with smartphones. Be super trendy and buy a Nokia 3310. It calls and texts, has a standby battery for up to a month and has no Wi-Fi or GPS connectivity. So no Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. But it does have Snake.
Most smartphones now have apps or built-in functions (such as Night Shift on iPhones) that combat blue light. They stop the suppression of the release of melatonin (the hormone that controls your body clock) that comes from bright screens. But phones can still affect your sleep as you endlessly scroll through Facebook.
Digital switch off – have a digital switch off time an hour before bed.
Leave your phone outside of the bedroom – if you do keep it in the bedroom, turn it to Flight Mode. Though there’s not a conclusion on brain tumours and mobile phones. Why risk it?
Or turn on Do not disturb – If you have Favourites set up on your iPhone, they are still able to call you in this mode, but notifications will be off.
Read – a real book not facebook.
Do the other thing – that beds are synonymous with!
Get a separate Alarm clock – the majority of people use their phone as an alarm clock. Therefore it ends up being the last thing you put down (whilst setting alarm clock) and the first thing to pick up in the morning (whilst turning off the alarm clock).
Don’t touch your phone in the morning – Do what you need to do first. Be it meditation or a workout or just making breakfast.
Really struggling? Take a digital detox.
When I went snowboarding in February, I turned off my data and the Wi-Fi in the chalet was useless. It was quite liberating. I just left my phone in my room and spent time being present with my friends. Any campsite worth its salt will lack 3G coverage and your battery will be dead before you even arrive. Try Cool Camping to find great campsites.
Be aware of how much of a crutch your phone has become. Think about what else you could be doing with that time.