Do you check your phone when you first wake up in the morning? And then again right before you go to sleep? Or almost possessively refresh your social media feeds throughout the day to make sure you are completely up to date on what’s happening in your network?
If you answered yes to any one of those or more, you probably feel a pang of guilt right now.
But usually when you’re going about doing exactly what was just asked, you wouldn’t think twice about being attached to your phone, because it’s the societal norm nowadays. I mean, it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing majority of people glued to their phones.
Although, when you realise exactly how much time you’ve spent with your face buried in your smartphone, you feel uneasy because deep down you know you could have been doing something much better.
And while being connected on your phone can be amazing, and is sometimes necessary for work or other reasons, being disconnected from your phone also feels just as incredible (maybe even more so).
Switching off, or taking a digital detox, has always terrified me, as being connected via my phone has provided me with some of the greatest work and personal opportunities. But once I knew how it felt to be detached from my phone, even if it was only for a short while, I was astounded by how productive I could be.
Beyond this, I reconnected with so many hobbies that used to spark my interest growing up like reading, bike riding and just hanging outside in nature more.
So, if you are also tempted by your phone way too often, try these simple tips to help you stop checking your phone all day:
1. Determine which apps take up your time
Deep down you probably know which apps constantly suck you in and chew up your time, but sometimes a blatant reminder is exactly what you need to motivate you to make a change.
For people with an iPhone, if you head to ‘settings’ and check your screen time, it will split it between all of your apps and you will be able to see the biggest time-wasting culprits.
Under screen time, you can also set limits for app categories that you want to manage. For example, since most of my time is spent on apps like Instagram and Facebook, I would set a limit on the social networking category. You can select your daily limit time, and then you will receive a notification 5 minutes before you reach that limit.
Another way is to use an app called QualityTime, which is essentially a diary of your phone habits and a great visual timeline to help you understand and, ultimately, manage your digital diet.
I’m generally shocked to see the amount of time I have spent on certain apps a day, so forcing myself to check in and manage it with app limits is a good way to keep things under control. Plus, I’m also surprised at how productive and clear my mind can be from just a simple change in my phone habits.
2. Turn off notifications for time-consuming apps
Most people check their phones every 15-minutes or less, which is alarming to say the least.
There is almost a layer of anxiousness around not being connected to your phone, with a fear that you are missing out on what’s happening.
Our innate compulsion to check our notifications when our phone buzzes no doubt interferes with our ability to focus. And between phone calls, text messages, Facebook tags, Instagram likes, Snapchats etc. (the list can really go on forever), your phone is likely to be lighting up most of the day.
However, if you remove notifications from certain apps which aren’t necessarily as important, then that added layer of temptation to check your phone is removed.
Obviously, turning off your phone completely is not always viable when you need to be contactable, but receiving a notification that your friend just tagged you in a meme is definitely not timely, and will only distract you.
When you do have down time in the day, you will be able to check those other apps and catch up on what you missed, instead of checking in to see what’s going on every 15 minutes or so.
3. Put your phone on aeroplane mode once a day
Putting your phone on aeroplane mode eliminates the distraction that is your phone completely, because there isn’t much to do besides scrolling your camera roll without an Internet connection.
For a lot of people this might not be possible to do during work hours, or school hours if you have children, since you need to be able to answer emergency calls. But perhaps once the kids are home, your partner is home, and you’re off the clock, you have a few hours to switch off and just ‘be’ without your phone.
Whether you have been meaning to fold the clean laundry that has been sitting out for a week, need to meal prep for the week ahead, or simply want to spend quality time with yourself, a friend, or your family, switching off your phone gives you the freedom to do so much.
4. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries with your phone that are feasible is extremely important.
For example, having a ‘no phone’ rule in the bedroom can be very beneficial. It ensures that your phone doesn’t disrupt your circadian rhythm and helps you get a better night’s sleep. Particularly if your phone is the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night, this rule can make a massive difference to your life.
Starting your day with an avalanche of notifications can make you feel instantly stressed and overwhelmed, so eliminating this device from the bedroom altogether allows you to avoid this.
You might even want to introduce other phone-free zones in your home, such as the dining area or lounge room, which can be a great way to connect with your partner or family if you are living with them.
The bottom line is, we all probably spend too much time on our phone. Some days it will be possible to disconnect a little more than others, and that’s okay. We just need to be more aware of where we can create space to disconnect and these easy tips are a great way to manage that.
This article was written by Laine Fullerton and originally published on A Girl In Progress.