Smartphones offer the convenience of conducting business (and pleasure) from any location across the globe. Nonetheless, these devices also come with a drawback, as excessive usage of social media apps can lead to aimless scrolling for extended periods. Here are six tips to help prioritize the significant aspects of life and minimize distractions caused by smartphones.
The majority of mobile applications have a tendency to be major distractors, and it’s not surprising since app developers often benefit from users spending as much time on their apps as possible. Companies such as Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok hire a team of neuroscientists to design their products in a way that stimulates addiction in their users (for further reading, check out ‘Hooked’ by Nir Eyal).
According to research conducted by Deloitte, nearly 40% of participants feel that they spend too much time on their phones. The average phone owner unlocks their device 150 times per day. As breaking bad habits through willpower can be challenging, it is essential to proactively take control of your phone usage. The good news is that it can be done relatively easily.
Do you have any idea how long the average business email remains unopened? Would you say ten, five, or perhaps one minute? According to Adam Alter, a professor at NYU and author of ‘Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked’, it’s closer to six seconds. If your workplace culture requires immediate accessibility, people will behave accordingly.
Therefore, it’s essential to clearly communicate when you’re available to respond to emails, Slack messages, Zoom calls, and Teams invites and when you’re not. Doing so eliminates the need to constantly monitor your phone both at home and on the go.
The proximity of your phone can increase the likelihood of you reaching for it. To mitigate this, intentionally place your phone at a distance from you. One approach is to position your wireless charger in the farthest part of the room or office. Additionally, if you have an iPhone and MacBook, you can answer calls from your computer screen.
Experts advise against keeping your phone in the bedroom, as separating your phone from your sleep environment can significantly enhance the quality of your sleep and relationships. For further reading on the topic, you can check out ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker, a professor at Berkeley, which has garnered praise from Bill Gates.
Frequently, checking your phone occurs subconsciously rather than intentionally. During idle moments – such as waiting for the kettle to boil, sitting on the toilet, or watching television advertisements – it’s common to reach for your mobile device without even thinking. Breaking this routine, one step at a time, can make it easier to distance yourself from your phone.
In his bestseller ‘MindGym’, Wouter de Jong highlights the importance of freeing your mind from information stimuli periodically. Doing so can boost creativity and improve your ability to concentrate for extended periods.
To establish a routine, the beginning of your day plays a vital role. Therefore, it’s recommended to refrain from using your phone for the first thirty minutes after waking up. By doing so, you’ll likely find it simpler to limit phone usage for the rest of the day.
App developers have come up with a clever tactic – the notification icon that appears in red, white, or blue with their software. Nevertheless, these tiny alarm bells can wreak havoc on your productivity. The reason being, not only does your brain become curious and eager to learn what information is concealed behind the number, but it also creates a psychological urge to clear the notification icon.
Furthermore, why is it necessary to know how many unread emails or apps are left? It’s better to view them when it’s suitable for you.
To combat phone addiction, you can utilize apps that aid in reducing phone usage. Moment, Forest, Freedom, and Cold Turkey are some examples of apps that assist in maintaining focus and blocking distracting sites and apps (yes, Reddit, we’re talking about you!).
If you want to take it a step further, configure your phone to display only monochromatic images by disabling all colors. This makes the device less appealing to your brain, which could help reduce your urge to use it.
Hardware can also assist you
If you require additional assistance, there are physical solutions available to address phone addiction. Online, you can find various safe providers that allow you to lock away your device for a designated amount of time.
Alternatively, the Dutch entrepreneurs Tim Smits and Jorn Rigter have developed the Unpluq device, which modifies your Android device to perform only essential functions. To access and use all apps, the Unplug must be plugged into the USB connection.
There is also an analog option available. If you desire an uninterrupted evening with your partner or friends, take a box and place your phones inside. Then, add some candles on top of the box, which can only be opened once the candles have burned out. You might be surprised at how often you feel the urge to reach for your phone!