The Necessary

Break Up

It’s time to break up with your smartphone

You may not even realize how smitten you are…but the majority of us are completely infatuated and obsessed with our smartphones. Don’t believe me? Are you reading this on your phone? I’m pretty sure your phone is within arm’s reach from you at any given time of the day. This comes as no surprise because smart phones and Social Media Apps are specifically designed to be addictive. The longer they can keep you active, the more money there is to be made. Smartphones are designed to make you feel like something exciting could happen at any moment (intermittent rewards), similar to slot machines. We crave that dopamine hit but it’s often to our own detriment.

 

Smartphone Addiction? Really?

 

But how much time do you really waste on social media? I don’t mean checking up on notifications or the occasional scroll. I mean the mindless scrolling, scrolling, scrolling that engulfs you for 30 minutes before you even realise? I’m not against social media…I’m against what it’s doing to the relationships with our families and friends. And what’s more, increasingly studies show that smartphone addiction leads to depression and anxiety. Here are some ideas to incorporate in your life to help you gain control over your smart phone addiction.

1. Get a Tracking App

A good place to start is to determine how much time you really spend on your phone. Download a time-tracking App to give you a clear picture. It will also highlight any unhealthy habits you might have picked up. I used StayFree for a few days and it showed that I spend most of my time on WhatsApp and I am on my phone more often in the morning. But what I found interesting is that my ‘’session length’’ of < 1 minute is sky high. I use my phone to check the time, my step count and I check for notifications. I think I need a watch…A bad habit I have picked up is that I open my emails at really random times – it’s so silly and unnecessary. Brace yourself, you might also be in for a shock! Once you know where the ‘’problem areas’’ are, it will be easier to address.

2. Delete Unnecessary Apps

There really is an App for everything isn’t there? But try to remove those that you can replace with a pen and paper (like a nutrition App) or maybe a recipe book (recipe Apps are big). I tried to delete my banking Apps but couldn’t because the payment approval notifications are sent there! But my Sudoku, Pinterest and Property24 Apps had to go…sigh. I have just been too lazy to buy a Sudoku book. Be kind to yourself though…if you love listening to podcasts while enduring the morning traffic (like me), don’t remove that App. What you want to achieve is to reduce your dependency on your phone, not make your life miserable.

3. Old School Alarm Clock

Buy an inexpensive alarm clock so you don’t have to rely on your phone’s alarm to wake up in the morning. Because what do we do as soon as we wake up? Reach for our phones, check messages, emails, Instagram stories and before you know it you’ve wasted 30 minutes consuming (let’s be honest) mostly garbage! Rather wake up slowly, journal, read your Bible or just have some alone time enjoying your coffee in the garden. How you wake up sets the tone for your day! You could even make your bedroom a phone-free zone. 

4. Time Restrictions

 In our house, 17:00 – 20:00 is family time. This is when we cook and eat dinner together, it’s bathtime and storytime. We’ve decided that this is also going to be screen-free time so no TV either. It’s been wonderful catching up on the happenings of everyone’s day which we would have missed otherwise. Those little details make such a big impact on relationships and it’s so important to be fully engaged so as to build trust. 

5. Switch to Silent

 When you have a coffee date with a friend, switch your phone to silent and place it in your bag – out of sight. I think it’s quite rude to have your phone on the table, it’s implying that your face-to-face conversation isn’t as important as a potential phone call. If you are expecting an important message or call, warn your company that you may need to excuse yourself for a few minutes. I have found that I have much more meaningful conversations and interactions when I’m not distracted by my phone. And more often than not, I didn’t miss a thing anyway!  

6. On Charge

Where you keep and charge your phone is so important. Apparently, people who don’t charge their phones in their bedroom are much happier than people who do! Pick a spot in the kitchen or in a drawer so you’ll be less tempted to check it while it’s charging. Also, switch your notifications off for WhatsApp messages, Facebook, Instagram etc. (if you haven’t deleted them already). I have realised that most emails and messages aren’t urgent. So if it takes you a few hours to respond, it’s not the end of the world. Anything urgent actually deserves a phone call.

7. A Full Day Detox

This could be a serious challenge for some but set aside an entire day to be without your phone. Doesn’t that sound bizarre? But it’s harder than you think. It’s easier when you plan something like a hike or beach day – a day when you wouldn’t actually miss your phone too much. Next, try to choose a day every week. Again, choose a Saturday or Sunday when you can use the time to rest and focus on yourself. Read books, catch up with friends and family over coffee or simply go for a walk. When you are smartphone-free, you notice how many people have their noses in their phones while grocery shopping or sitting at a coffee shop. We actually need time to ourselves with no distractions. Eventually you could be brave enough to attempt an entire tech-detox weekend!

 

At the end of the day, the time you spend messing around on your phone is time you could be spending on things that bring joy to you and others. In a world where we constantly complain about how little time we have for our friends or to exercise or sleep, you realise that the 2 hours you spend on Facebook everyday could be put to much better use. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

“You’re off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
…so get on your way!“

Dr Seuss