Cell phone addiction and how I am breaking the habit

Cell phone addiction and how I am breaking the habit

I am at my desk trying to complete some work and unconsciously pick up my smartphone to check the latest feeds on Instagram. One thing leads to another and before I put the phone back I have wasted 15mins of my schedule and reset my focus back to square one. It’s my guilty pleasure of cell phone addiction.

With cheaper data plans and upgraded hardware, smartphones have long surpassed their basic purpose, connecting people. Back in the days, I had a simple phone that I used for -staying in touch with family, texting friends for catch up, taking the occasional photos. I remember its usage left my mind stress free and I paid attention to people and places around me.

Now, like most of us, I am always signed into multiple apps -social networking, entertainment, utilities etc.and reap their benefits. But with the plethora of options and lack of self-control, my mind and eyes are forever engaged in the perpetual updating feeds on my phone parallel to the task I am working on. I tried to reassure myself before putting the phone back, that this is the last time and after a few minutes the same cycle repeats.

So here is what I am guilty of every day with my excessive engagement of the smartphone.

Breaking focus and answering texts or notification

Trying to work with stellar focus and concentration is hard enough. But sudden push notifications of a flash sale or cheapest flight options gets my phone addict self-spurred with curiosity and leap into the screen to grab more details. All the time spent to get “into the zone” is lost and I have to start all over again.

Poor sleep quality and morning alertness

Over a period of time, I realized that I have told my self that surfing on the phone is equivalent to relaxing. That’s what happens when I hit the bed, a couple of hours pass and I am texting, surfing the trends or watching videos. Its become a routine and impacted the quality of sleep and the after effects of waking up with a heavy head in the morning.

Screen multitasking

Are you one of those people who is switching between multiple screens at the same time? So the question to ask yourself is that where does your focus lie and what are you enjoying? Example, I for one am watching television and also surfing on my smartphone. Sometimes I feel that I am neither enjoying whats on the television screen or my smartphone, it can get very mechanical and compulsive.

Social media is not life. Period.

Although the amount of content and helpful information on the major social media platforms is huge, I try to consume as much as I can in a go and then come back for some more. But, how much value those self-help posts or feeds bring to my sane self is questionable. I miss losing touch with the normal around me.

Screen gazing

The proverb “An Idle Brain is the Devil’s Workshop” hardly holds true anymore, merely due to the fact that the concept of “Idle brain” no longer exists, pun intended.

Time and again I have noticed that walking to a store I am focussed on my smartphone reading messages like a smartphone zombie. Or eating a meal alone, my smartphone is actively giving me company. I am hardly looking around to observe people, their traits or appreciate the meal.

Action plan…

Here are the techniques I am using to tackle cell phone addiction.

Keep cell phone facing downwards

I actively use this technique and it works. I leave my cell phone screen facing downwards ( sometimes on mute), my interest to sneak peek into my phone by tapping my touchscreen has minimized. With less diversion, I am better focused and can efficiently complete an activity and later check if something came up which needs my attention.

Turn push notifications off

Keeping push notifications off is the simplest way to avoid interruptions and distractions. It’s not a bother if you can’t hear your phone chiming time and again.

Reducing screen brightness / using phone Night mode

Most digital screens emit blue light and growing research are corroborating that prolonged overuse of digital devices has damaging effects on our eyes. Known as Digital eye strain or Computer vision syndrome

Adjust your phone screen brightness to a level where you can read the screen without straining your eyes. It helps keep urge for screen time under check and also saves phone battery. The same reason why iPhones Night shift mode was introduced in March 2016. The blue light emitted from our screens tells the brain to stay awake, restricting the release of sleeping inducing hormones thus causing alertness or disrupted sleep. With Night Shift mode you can auto set screen schedule and brightness, tending more towards warmer at night. Similar updates are available for other devices and phones as well.

Setting Phone etiquettes with family and friends

During occasional meetups with family and friends, there is always someone who is constantly on their phones. It’s a big annoyance and breaks the flow of conversation. In our family, my husband initiated a rule to keep phones aside when the family spends time together. It came from a past experience when everyone in the room was engrossed in their smartphones with no real conversation actually happening.

No phones first and the last thing

Avoiding picking up the phone at least an hour before and after sleep has relaxed my mind immensely, unless absolutely necessary. It gives more time to hang loose and focus on other simple things like reading the newspaper or really daydream.

Although I believe in striking a balance, there are many who prefer going cold turkey or uninstalling their most used apps. If you think it helps, then sure try it, just how Simon Cowell did.

Lastly, stay committed to striking your cell phone life balance. The time spent scrolling through your phone can be endless, can there a way to better utilize that time?

Live free and full.



Featured image credit –Jaz King

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