It’s not new news that technology is slowly turning our brains to mush. Okay, not mush— but it is making us dumber and it’s making teens more depressed. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had the foresight to raise their kids almost tech free, a sign that they knew well and good how addictive their technological inventions would be.
But to totally shun our smartphones and computers and social media profiles would be extreme and naive— after all, an entire globalized world is at our fingertips and there are a lot of benefits to reap from the world wide web and its users. Our smartphones hold such tremendous power and enable our daily lives in more ways than one. However, things can quickly spiral out of control when your subconscious takes over. You know, like the black hole effect. You sit down and pull out your phone to check your email and then before you know it, an hour has passed and you’ve aimlessly scrolled through both Facebook and Instagram several times. When you finally come to, you think shit! Where did the time go? And then you continue on with your day without addressing how toxic your behavior was.
It’s hard. I get it. Your phone is glued to your hand and you instinctively check it every 5 minutes or so. I do it too. And to change your behavior requires you to change deeply ingrained habits that are past the point of conscious decision-making. It’s particularly difficult if you are an influencer or if your career is in the realm of social media. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to be better.
So here are 5 tips for cleaning up your act and creating a more mindful relationship with your phone, without totally giving it up.
1. When you catch yourself scrolling, ask yourself, “what am I looking for?”
This is the question I like to ask myself when I realize I’ve been just scrolling for several minutes without aim. It’s a nice little way to snap out of it and think, why am I just continuously scrolling as if I’m looking for something when I’m really not? You can come up with a different question that resonates with you, but the point is to question your motives. Did you get on your phone to respond to a DM or to post a story from your business account? Are you done with that now? Great, then put your phone away. Use social media with a purpose, not to pass time.
2. Get an analog alarm clock.
Then you won’t need your phone by your bed at night. Keep your phone across the room, or even out of your room, to eliminate the temptation. You don’t need your phone first thing when you wake up, so don’t give yourself the option. Instead, develop your own unplugged morning routine, and wait to check your phone until after breakfast or when your work hours begin.
3. Schedule a phone free day.
“But I need to post at least once per day on social media!!!!” I can just hear you all whimpering now. False. You don’t need to. So take a day totally off, give your eyes a break, give your mind a break, and recharge. If social media is your job, take the weekend off like you would any other job! Encourage your followers to go out and live their lives offline over the weekend too.
4. Keep your phone out of your eyesight when you don’t need it.
Several studies, like this one, have shown that simply having your phone within visible reach reduces your cognitive capacity and ability to focus. So trick your brain by “hiding” it. I do this successfully at work by placing my phone behind my laptop screen. That way, if I get a call it’s within reach, but otherwise, I don’t think about it. As they say, out of sight, out of mind.
5. Use an app to help monitor (and change) your phone use habits.
Try using an app like SPACE to become more aware of how often and how long you use your phone daily. Not only will the app track the amount of time you spend on your phone, but you can also program it to interrupt your phone session with a notification once you’ve reached the time limit you allot for yourself. Plus you can set goals for your usage habits and track your progress over several weeks or months.
And with that, I’m logging off. May you find a healthy phone-life balance!
Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence.
I'm the Oxford comma's biggest fan.