I have a question for you: how many times a day do you check your phone?
Quite a few?
Or do I need to ask this: how many times you check it in an hour?
And hey – there’s no judgement from me because I could be the worst of the bunch. I’ve decided it’s time to acknowledge that at best, I’m attached to my phone way too much – and at worst, I have some form of dependency.
Today I’m going to dig into the signs that you might be too connected to your phone, and steps you can take to make sure you maintain a healthy balance to the smartphone in your life.
It’s Not Just Work
When I made my decision to move out of the corporate world, I had a vision of being dramatically more disconnected from technology. In the role I was in, working with clients in different time zones and business-critical systems, remaining connected was really important to help me keep on top of important issues. I would check my email first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and every 5 minutes in between.
In my new life (I thought) I will be freed from the reliance on my phone, iPad and laptop. Cue images of me doing daily meditation, reading a book in a cozy corner, and of course those adorable craft times with the kids.
HOW WRONG I WAS. I’ve noticed that I’m as hooked to my phone as ever, and I would hazard two things:
1. I’m not the only one.
2. This is just as prolific in my demographic (people in their thirties OKAY FORTIES) as it is in “the youth of today”.
Here’s a fun little 9 question quiz if you want to get a totally unscientific measurement of your phone addiction!
Signs You’re Way Too Connected To Your Phone
Based on my own experience as well as some good old internet research, here are some of the indications of an unhealthy relationship with your phone:
- You ALWAYS have your phone with you and feel anxious if it isn’t close by
- You check your phone multiple times per hour even though you’ve had no notifications
- You keep your phone by your bed and check it right before going to sleep and as soon as you wake up
- You check your phone in inappropriate situations: during meetings, mid-conversation with friends, while driving
- When you eat meals, you always have your phone out next to your plate
Of course, you may do any or all of these things and not have any issue with your phone usage (except the driving thing of course – that’s a big no-no), BUT either way you may find it beneficial to try some of the following to reduce your phone dependency. I’m trying some of these myself!
Tips To Building A Healthy Relationship With Your Phone
1. Keep Your Distance
At night, leave your phone to charge somewhere other than the bedroom. That way it’s not the first and last thing you connect with in the day. Keep your phone away from the dinner table at mealtimes, and don’t set it out when you’re socializing. As the old saying goes, friends put it away!
2. Find Another Alarm Clock
Relating to point no.1, don’t use your phone as your alarm clock (hey, you can use your Alexa instead!) – another reason to not have it by your bed at night and interact with it immediately before going to sleep and when waking up
3. Set Yourself Checking Limits
Begin by setting yourself some parameters such as ‘I can check my phone every 15 minutes’ and then extend those time periods till you get to a reasonable frequency that works for your lifestyle. Yes, you might need to go to your phone for a valid reason (and to be fair almost every gadget I talked about in my Home Gadgets post is managed by your smartphone), every 6 minutes is PROBABLY overkill though.
4. Turn Notifications Off
Only have notifications on for essential apps. Have you noticed that Facebook has a notification for everything these days? Seriously, those little red circles are so alluring and cause that Fear Of Missing Out feeling. Did someone just @mention me??? Oh no, someone I met once in a nightclub when I was 26 has their birthday today, and maybe I want to let them know that I’m thinking about them…
It might be important to know that you received a new text message, but less critical to be notified an old colleague has started following you on Pinterest, so get to tidying those notifications up!
5. Monitor Your Usage
Ok, I get the irony of telling you to add another phone app, but one of my favourite sayings in my professional life was ‘Measure, Change and Measure again’. By tracking your phone usage with an app like Moment, you can have some self-accountability as well as monitor improvements in your behaviour. You might be surprised at the amount of quality time you can gain back once you have your phone usage under control.
In case you didn’t know, I am not a medical professional. The information above aims to provide you with practical tips – if, however, you feel like your phone or social media usage is negatively impacting your life, then you may want to seek advice from professional therapy resources.