We are all culprits of spending lots of time on our phones.
We constantly scroll through our news feeds, update our social media accounts, and share hilarious memes with our friends. We are the generation that have grown up with mobile phones attached to our hip, and it would be hard to think of a world without them now.
After all, they are so useful for things such as safety, keeping in contact with friends across the world, finding out what else ‘that actor’ has been in via IMDB, and, heck, I even found out today that a member of my family is having a baby, through Facebook!
Having everything at our beck and call can be great; I enjoy social media, and so do lots of people. But a thing I have noticed this past week, since I have moved to another side of the world, is that I have been spending an increasing amount of time on my phone throughout the day.
I wake up; check my phone for messages. I eat breakfast; I scroll through my Facebook news feed. I go on a break at work; I check for more messages. I finish my day at work; I lie on the sofa checking all my apps, messaging people back, and posting stupid tweets.
And I haven’t been enjoying it. In fact, I’ve found it rather boring and brain numbing.
My excuse is that I have been bored this past week, and haven’t had much else to do. But that is not a good enough excuse and I know it!
I read in an article today, that if we reduced our phone usage by approximately 30 minutes every day, we would regain 180 hours over the course of the year. 180 hours?! That makes me want to vomit. That is over 180 hours of my life that I am wasting, every year, staring at a phone screen.
So I’m going to make a conscious effort to stay off my phone as much as possible from now on. And here are some tips that I have compiled, should you wish to gain back 180 hours this year too…
1. Keep your phone out of your bedroom.
I know that we use our phones for alarms, but an alarm clock can cost as little as £5 in a shop. It will save you from reaching for your phone in the morning, and help you sleep better on a night without the distraction.
2. Get reading a book rather than a screen.
Reading is great for your brain – it exercises the brain, reduces stress, stimulates your imagination, and improves skills such as concentration, analytical thinking, and general intelligence. And it’s fun, believe it or not!
3. Watch a TV series.
You know that TV series you’ve been eager to start for a while? Well, leave your phone across the room away from you and settle down and get started, without the distraction of your phone in your hand.
Though I may be a self-proclaimed terrible baker, the times when I truly stay off my phone and don’t even think about it, are when I’m baking. Baking requires a good amount of concentration and brute strength (whisking is tiring!), so this doesn’t leave much time for your phone. It’s a good, fun distraction, and you have something yummy at the end of it to share with your family (or eat by yourself).
5. Get out of the house.
The world has so many beautiful things to see, and so many awesome things to do. So if you’re stuck at home, bored, and inevitably scanning through your phone, turn your phone ‘off’ and head outside. You don’t have to do anything expensive – you could just grab a coffee with your flatmate, or head to your nearest open space and watch the world go by. Maybe even take that book with you that you’ve recently started reading…
6. Turn off notifications.
Constantly hearing the pinging sound of notifications? I found it so hard to stay off my phone when I first got an iPhone due to notifications popping up all the time. The best thing that I did was turning off my notifications for my social media accounts. By keeping the obvious notifications, such as text messages, phone calls and whatsapp, I reduced my time spent on my phone significantly, as I wasn’t checking off pointless notifications for social media all day. Instead, I would see them all in one go when I logged into the specific apps.
7. Download an app.
It may seem a bit ironic to download an app to help you stay off your apps… But if you really are struggling to reduce your social media usage, and need a helping hand, you could try downloading the likes of Moment or Offtime. These apps are specifically tailored to record how much time you spend on your phone, and specific apps, on a daily basis. From this, you can then set goals and daily limits to help you reach your targets.
Yes, we all hate going to the gym… but it’s good for us, both physically and mentally. So stop being lazy, get off the sofa and get your butt on a treadmill. Or take up a sport. Or join a class. Or just go on a walk with your dog. Just don’t take your phone. Take your old school MP3 player, or even just listen to the gym’s tunes – they can often be quite good!
9. Talk to people.
There is nothing ruder than sitting with someone and not making conversation. Unless they’re that creepy guy on the train who keeps trying to hit on you… Ask your flatmate how their day was, invite your friend over for dinner, take your partner out for a drink. Spend some time with the people around you. Don’t be a ‘virtual friend’. Be there in the moment.
10. Designate time.
If you really want to reduce how much time you spend on your phone, then you have to give yourself limitations. Say that you aren’t allowed to check your phone first thing in the morning when you wake up, but you are allowed to check it for 10 minutes on your commute to work. Or perhaps you aren’t allowed to scroll through your phone on your lunch break, but when you get in on the evening you can have half an hour of scrolling and answering messages before cooking your dinner. The best way to avoid the temptation, is to not have it close enough to tempt you. Leave your phone in your bag more, rather than leaving it out on the worktop.
Wish me luck as I reduce my phone intake! It won’t be easy at first, but within a few days I bet I’ll notice a difference, and my quality of life will improve greatly.
If you have gone on a ‘digital detox’ before, or find any of these tips helpful, then please let me know. It would be great to hear other people’s experiences and techniques!