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How do You Feel About Your Phone
Scientists have reported that using mobile phones for long hours disrupts our sleep patterns and put our mental and physical health at risk. With advent of social media, there is an even greater risk of depression.
You may be wondering "How does this affect me?"
There is no way I am gonna throw away my phone because some scientists says so. I will be depressed if I am deprived of my phone!
Phone Addiction Is Subtle
I feel what you feel. My phone is my baby and I can’t live without it. Right from that first moment when my little phone was delivered to me packed in a cute bubble wrap and it’s soft smooth screen came to light upon a gentle touch, I had fallen in love with it. In fact, I am writing this very article on my phone. Cutting it out of my life is not an option.
But I also know that phone addiction is a real thing. It captures my attention for 8–12 hours every day. This affects my brain activity and hampers my ability to concentrate and be happy.
So living like a prisoner of my cell phone was also not an option.
How Did I Tackle My Phone Addiction?
I asked myself three simple questions that helped me change my perception about my phone.
1. What kind of relationship do I have with my phone?
2. What do I expect from this relationship?
3. How can improve my relationship?
1) What Kind of Relationship Do I Have With My Phone?
I used my phone whenever I liked, for as much time as I wanted. I used it even if I didn’t need it for any real purpose. It was hurting my health, my sleep, mental peace of mind, and my productivity, but I didn’t stop.
One day I realized that although I consider my phone a friend, I never really started treating it like one.
It was only when I started to think of my interaction with the phone like any other relationship I have — friend, family or relative, that I realized I was in a bad relationship with my phone. Specifically, a dependent relationship. Our relationship had no contracts, no boundaries and no expectations I couldn’t end this relationship because I was attached to it, perhaps even addicted.
In the situation when you can’t end the relationship because a phone is a work tool, it’s always better to improve how we engage in the relationship. It’s better to be explicit about your expectations from that relationship and put restrictions on what’s allowed and what’s not. It's better to have boundaries.
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So I changed the way I perceive my interactions with my phone and set right expectations from it and put boundaries on it wherever necessary.
2) Am I Getting What I Expect From This Relationship?
I expect my phone to help me achieve my goals. Everything around me either supports or distracts me from achieving those goals.
For example, let’s say my goal is to wake up at 5 AM every day. Now I expect my phone to help me achieve this goal. So I set a daily alarm on the phone for 5 AM.
This way my phone, as per my expectations, helps me in fulfilling my goal of waking up early.
Now let’s imagine another scenario.
You are about to sleep and are thinking about all the things you will do once you wake up tomorrow at 5 AM. But your thought process was interrupted by a notification sound. You are tempted to check it, but you ignore it as you need to wake up early.
Presently you pick up the phone thinking you will check the notification and then go back to sleep. But looking at the laughing emojis from your friends, it seems the reel is really funny.
Now you are tempted to click on the link and check the reel for yourself what’s so funny! You click and soon end up spending the next two hours browsing funny videos. You couldn’t wake up early although your alarm went off, you snoozed it.
Now in this scenario, because I allowed my phone’s notifications to interrupt my sleep time, my phone distracts me from my goal of waking up early. In other words, I expect my phone to notify me about every WhatsApp activity during my sleep time.
I expect my phone to interrupt my sleep time by giving higher priority to a WhatAapp notification.
I don’t expect my phone to ensure I get a good sleep by keeping any such non-urgent notifications with it for my review later when I wake up tomorrow.
And I think we can all agree there are no emergencies in a notification. We always get a call if it’s an emergency. If the person is not calling , then it’s not an emergency. If it’s a stinker email from the client, then it can wait until tomorrow for your response when you can check with respective person about it.
Support vs. Destruction
So now that we have seen that our phone can play a supportive or destructive role in our life. You can either choose to set right expectations from the phone and use it to achieve your daily goals or remain a prisoner of your own device which will capture your attention and distract from the path of progress.
So first you need to know what do you expect from your phone. And then evaluate the relationship on the basis of how supportive is it in helping you achieve your life goals.
If you don’t know then set the right expectations from your phone now. Some examples of setting healthy expectations:
I expect my phone to:
- remind me about important meetings
- remember important things so my brain can be free of unnecessary information to focus only on the problem solving
- record important article, quotes for later reference
- wake me up on time
- remind me when I am wasting my time on social media apps
- remind me if I overspend in a month
- block all notifications at night time and ensure my sleep is not disturbed
- remember contacts/names of people I meet at trade shows, events, etc.
- calm me with some peaceful music when i feel anxious
- send a motivation quote every day at 6 AM, so my day starts with great inspiration
3) How Can I Improve My Relationship With My Phone?
Improve your productivity by using below features on your phone:
- Create a To Do list on wheels
- Set reminders for important tasks
- Schedule meetings/tasks on calendar
- Use timer to set deadlines for your tasks
- Set up only one wake up alarm
- Install health and fitness apps to keep track of your steps, diet, and overall health
- Use budget apps to control your daily expense
- Google creative solutions to your personal and professional problems. No problem is unique these day and you will surprised at the amount of relevant material you can find on almost any topic on internet.
Restrict your interaction with the phone by setting clear boundaries:
- How much time do you spend on your phone? Reduce it to half.
- Spend an entire day without your phone to help reset your mind.
- Don’t check your phone more than once in an hour.
- Set clear boundaries like not using your phone 2–3 hours before sleep. I go one step further and don’t use it even 1–2 hours after I wake up. This phone-free time is very precious to me and does magic for my energy. Every night I sleep like a baby and wake up feeling refreshed.
- For the folks that do a lot of office work or business on a phone, put your phone away once the office hour is finished.
- Don’t carry around your phone at home. Keep it fixed at a place, unless you are going out.
- Remove the app that you spend most of your time. Do you feel like it is really needed? If it’s social media, you probably don’t need it. Or you can keep just one social media app of your choice and remove others. You can always install the app if and when you feel you need it. Don’t delete your work app, just think of alternative ways you can use to reduce the time spent on these apps.
By implementing these tips, using the phone has become a privilege for me and not just a device that keeps lying around my desk and attached to me wherever I go. We get sufficient break from each other.
Your phone is the best productivity tool if used correctly. It can be your best friend only if you ask.
Only you can make the call!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.