We all get that our phones keep us organized. And really that’s an understatement because they are *the* gateway to our appointments and reminders and photos and just about everything else.
It’s these same phones that allow us to keep in touch with those we love and block those we don’t. I mean, I don’t love robocalls. I block those all darn day.
It is, without a doubt, the one handheld machine that helps you seamlessly run your life.
On the flip side, our phones beep and ding and are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to distraction. If not the biggest.
You know how it goes. You wake up in the morning and without thinking twice, you check your social feeds. Why? You take a break in the elevator to check the weather or see what emails have trickled in that needed a response five minutes ago. What if we didn’t have computers in our hands…? Those emails would have to wait until we got back to our desks!
When the day is done and you're winding down for bed, you may have found yourself brushing your pearly whites just before one last glance at the little device that syncs you with your outside world.
Our phones and tablets literally manage our days. Unfortunately, they’re robbing us of our attention, attention spans and time for more important things like all the non-tech, personal stuff we could be accomplishing when we’re not using them.
I like mine just as much as the next person. But it might be time we rethink our behaviors and usage.
According to research conducted by Nielsen:
“US Adults spend nearly half a day interacting with media.”
Yep, you read that right - you and I are spending nearly half of our days interacting with media in some form.
Sometimes I sit back and think, how did we let these seemingly good devices creep into our worlds so much?
It’s a slippery and even sticky slope.
Fortunately we are all becoming a lot more aware of just how sticky media is and it’s allowing us to make room for change. 👍
So, there’s no need for guilt or worry or stress. Just know that there is a better, healthier way to find balance and if you’re committed like I was, you’ll get your time back.
SO… HOW EXACTLY DO WE CREATE HEALTHY DIGITAL HABITS AND BECOME MORE MINDFUL SO WE FEEL LESS OVERWHELMED AND MORE IN CONTROL OF OUR DAY-TO-DAY?
Ima ‘bout to tell you.
Here it is.
1. Measure your time.
In order to see any improvement and to define what success means for you, first you have to measure your current usage. This won’t involve any hard math. Just make sure you use an app like Moment (iOS), AppDetox (Android) or the latest iOS 12 Screen Time monitoring features to do the tracking for you.
How exactly do you monitor?
Track your usage for approximately one week and see what your average daily time is. More importantly, what apps or services are you using the most? Once you know your average time you can determine what your personal goal is for each day and once you know which apps or tools are consuming most of your time, you can limit them, too.
For example, you may find that your usage is slightly higher than you expected but most of the time is attributed to playing music during your commute or when your winding down for the night. Obviously, music can be totally relaxing and freeing! So make your own thoughtful conclusions about where it is that you can trim when it comes to screen time.
Alternatively, if majority of your screen time is devoted to a certain game or social media app, consider deleting the app (easier said than done but I promise you it’s doable) from your phone while you work to restore your own personal device balance.
2. Create balance with new healthier routines.
In order to make a change, you have to adjust some routines. For example, where do the phones in your household “sleep” at night? Are they on everyone all the time? Do they join you for dinner? Consider creating a central charging station (ours is in our kitchen). The charging station isn't just for charging either - it's a place where your phone should live when you're not using it.
Additionally, make dinner time device-free and have everyone in your household put their phones in the central charging station each night so as to limit the bright light and distraction that devices often bring into bedrooms or places of respite. Yes, this means you’ll need to invest in an alarm clock or dust off your old one and plug it in like we all did 15 years ago.
And if you’re still on the fence as to whether it really matters. Sleep.org shared the following insight:
“Smartphones—like laptops, tablets, and televisions—emit something called blue light, which is a type of light that the brain interprets as daylight. The blue light actually suppresses melatonin (a hormone that affects circadian rhythm and should increase when you are preparing for bedtime). The result: Your brain feels stimulated. This is fine if you’re looking at your smartphone’s screen at noon, but if you’re looking at the screen at midnight, your brain is going to get confused and think that the sun is out—making it even tougher to fall asleep.”
3. Give and receive digital respect.
The only way you can show those around you that you are providing your undivided attention is if your devices are out of sight. Make sure you are keeping them away when it comes to dinner time, walks and one-on-ones..
You may think that you can handle it but remember, our devices have trained many of us to keep them near and check them often.
According to Common Sense Media:
“Features such as app notifications, autoplay -- even "likes" and messages that self-destruct -- are scientifically proven to compel us to watch/check in/respond right now or feel that we’re missing something really important.”
Remember what I said about sticky? The FOMO effect plays into this stickiness as well.
And I can assure you, FOMO is real. So real in fact that Oxford Dictionaries defines it as:
“Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
Often I find that our devices follow us into places where they just don't need to be.
Limit how often and when you're using them and others will feel your added attention and focus. Plus, you will, too. It’s really about respect for others and yourself.
In order to restore balance to your life and feel like you're back in control of your day-to-day, the key is to monitor and limit screen time.
If you’re interested in truly taking back your time and feeling restored balance, click here to join the waitlist for my free digital detox course. I go into the why, how and when to help you get back on track when it comes to simplifying the digital devices in your life.