There is no question that smartphones have changed the way we communicate, work, and even live. They add a level of ease and accessibility – allowing us to connect with others in a multitude of ways and provide tools and apps to ease the way we work and even play. Many of us rely on our smartphones almost constantly but we do need to beware that we aren’t letting our phone take the wheel and steer us through our days.
So, are you handing over your "Smart" to your "Smartphone"? As yourself these questions:
- How often do you reach for that smartphone? Could you even guess how many times you pick it up and glance at it throughout a day? Is it a habitual behavior? It’s so easy to slip into that routine of glancing down at it any time you have even a few moments that aren’t consumed with another activity. Do you reach for it for a specific purpose – or are you letting your habits reach for it?
- Do you feel you HAVE TO immediately check every incoming message? Is there discomfort at the mere thought of leaving a text, email, or other message unchecked – even if just for 5 minutes? Letting the "dings" and "chimes" dictate your use of time means that you’re handing over control of your use of time to your phone. Are you truly waiting for a specific message or reply or are you merely reacting because it bothers you not to?
- Do you sacrifice face time with living breathing people to screen time with your phone? The connections and entertainment that smartphones put so easily at our fingertips are engaging and even fun. But, have you thought about what it means to those your with?
So, if this sounds like you…..what can you do?
- Decide on a "policy" as to when/if you will access your phone when you are with other people. (i.e. no phone at mealtimes, I only answer the phone if it is for a call I’m expecting, I only check my phone mid-morning, at lunch, and mid-afternoon, etc.)
- Set your phone just out of reach. Close enough that you can get to it for an actual call or when it’s needed – – but just inconvenient enough so you’ll stop those habitual "grab and peek"s.
- Put apps that you use more for "fun" into their own group (preferably not on the first home screen). It increases your awareness of how often you go to those apps and makes you work a bit harder to actually dig down to them.
- Change the ring tone for those people you always accept calls from.
- Turn off any notifiers that ding, beep, etc. that aren’t urgent or to which you don’t need to immediately respond.
- Set time limits. If it’s too hard to go cold turkey – at least decide on how much is enough.
- And…..if you’re feeling really gung ho!…… remove non-required apps from your phone altogether. Try this for a few days. You’ll really see just how much you’ve come to rely on your phone! Be purposeful about what you put back on there.
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