How often do you find yourself looking at your phone throughout the day? According to a study from Huawei, in partnership with Decibel Research, the average Australian spends 2.5 hours a day looking at their mobile device which works out at an astonishing 38 days a year!
Now that we are using our phones as cameras, maps, news sources, fitness trackers, banks, TV’s, radios and pretty much anything you can dream of, it is now becoming a growing concern that our attachment to technology may be damaging our health.
We’re not advising you to hurl your phone under the nearest bus (we would never find anywhere again if we did that), but you can make a few simple changes to improve your health, your relationships and your productivity without resorting to tying to cups to a string.
Productivity is one of the most interesting areas, as many of us feel that is the one area where smartphones really come into their own and that being connected and contactable all the time will make us awesome, multitasking business gods. But, unfortunately, for many of us, the opposite is true. Our brains struggle to cope with two cognitively demanding tasks at the same time and the result is that our effectiveness in all areas takes a hit.
Prolonged overuse of mobile technology not only reduces our productivity, it lowers our empathy levels and can cause mental illness in otherwise healthy people. Smartphones are even affecting our long-term memories as our brains are overloaded with bitesize pieces of information that we can neither process nor remember.
So, how do we know if we have a problem?
Well, do you feel uncomfortable if you are separated from your phone?
Is your phone always to hand, even during meals?
Do you sleep with your phone?
Do you find yourself wishing you could use your phone less?
These are just a few of the symptoms of someone addicted to their smartphone and if you want to take the full test click on the link and discover if your phone use is becoming problematic.
Ok… I’ve got a problem
So, if you’ve realized that how you are using your phone is detrimental to your overall wellbeing then what can you do about it? Luckily for us the answers are simple and all we need to do is break the cycle. On average we check our phones 30 times a day (teenagers look at their phones 90 times) and it’s important to get is to get that number way down!
Step One: Invest in an alarm clock.
A UK study showed that a third of adults check their phone within five minutes of waking up, so the first thing to do is invest in an alarm clock (or go really old school with a clock radio) and banish the mobile phone from the bedroom for good.
Start to make checking your phone into a choice instead of an automatic reaction.
Step Two: Create no phone zones.
Designate areas of your house where phones are banned. Start with the dining table as an easy one and how about the sofa (slightly harder)… Do we need to check one screen while watching a movie on another?
Once your phone areas have been reduced to the kitchen while you’re making a cup of tea, then you’ll be well on the road to improving your sleep and your overall health.
Step Three: Scrap the apps.
Keep only the useful ones that are enhancing your life like music and fitness. Get rid of the dead weight that only takes up your time. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the Gmail app.
You’ll still have access on the mobile sites but hopefully, you will be able to cut back to the point where you only check social media once or twice a day.
Switch off all notifications too, so you can ignore your phone in peace without it clamouring for your attention. Your phone is very much like a gambling machine, sucking you in with lights and noises, so minimise all of the unnecessary tones and alerts.
Step Four: Set limits
If your friends and family think your phone is an extension of you then maybe it’s time to change that.
Set realistic limits for yourself. Try 90 minutes a day and for no longer than 15 minutes at a time.
You will not be surprised to know that there is an app for that. It’s called Moment and it helps you to track and limit your phone usage and sends you updates if you exceed your self imposed restrictions.
Step Five: Make healthier choices.
You can have access to your phone and yet be making perfectly healthy choices.
You leave your house and type in directions to the bush into your Maps, turn on Spotify and listen to awesome tunes, a podcast or even an audiobook. You rock up at the walking track and switch on your fitness app while you march through the forests and glades with your dog. If you lose your dog… There’s an app for that.
This is just an example and not to everyone’s taste of course, but if we can cut out the mindless scrolling and the automatic social media twitching, I bet we’d all be fitter, happier and more productive.