Is your smartphone ruling your life? It’s a question I’ve asked myself frequently as a parent. When you child is passing you your phone unprompted or if it’s one of their words, it’s hint there might be a problem.
Being too attached to your mobile phone is very easy these days. They do everything for us now. They’re our e-reader, internet search, mail processor, messenger service, camera and more. In fact, we seem to rarely use our devices for making or taking calls anymore.
I often find I’ll “just check this quickly” whether it’s email or my social media. It’s also hard when you have children as there’s a pressure to always been taking and sharing photos of them. It’s easy to mistake capturing the moment for experiencing it.
Information about activities and basic services is now all online. We no longer have to wait until we get home to our computer to catch up though, you only have to pick up your phone and access the content you want immediately.
A week on holiday in Cornwall with limited internet connectivity really brought this home to me. Using my actual camera and choosing to take shots only occasionally, reminded me of the value of taking photos that matter. After all, what will I want to reflect on in ten years – the burger I had, or the moment my son danced with delight to the Happy Mondays (yes, that happened).I checked my emails in the evening or first thing in the morning, slinging my phone in my backpack for the rest of the day.
For many of us doing a complete digital detox isn’t possible, but you can use your smartphone a little less.
Change your email sync settings.
You probably have them set to PUSH which means your email provider will send the email to your phone as soon as it arrives. Change it to sending once an hour if you absolutely need your emails fairly soonish. Even better, change them to manual. That means you have to fresh your inbox by opening it for the email to come through. Be strict though- don’t check it every five minutes!
Switch off notifications
Turn off social media notifications. If your phone if pinging at you through the day you will only be tempted to check in and nothing is rarely urgent.
Set times for online activities
Unless you run an online business, you can get away with replying to emails, messages and social comments at particular times. I find it helpful to set aside fifteen
minutes in the morning, the same at lunchtime and then the evening. If I need to pull together something more proactive like pitching to clients or writing posts, I’ll set aside a separate hour. You will be more productive and focussed if you allocate set times for set activities.
Train yourself to post fewer photos
I love Instagram, but let’s face it, we don’t need to post everything. Sure, take a photo that but think before you post. Does everyone need to see a picture of your food? I try to post a few of my favourites to Instagram but use an app called Lifecake for sharing photos with family members as it’s easier to control privacy and there are fewer distractions.
Not only will this help preserve your battery and free up memory, you won’t be tempted to waste time on apps you don’t use. Some phones will tell you when you last used apps.If you haven’t used it in a month, hit the delete button.
Leave your phone in another room
Have your ringer loud enough to hear in an emergency, but leave your phone in another room or your handbag. Out of sight, out of mind.
You don’t always have to break up with your phone, but sometimes you do need to have some time apart.