In my previous article, Technology is Stealing Our Time and Attention, I shared scary facts about the impact that technology has on our lives. Here, though, it’s time to look forward and get serious: here’s how to quit your smartphone addiction.
Try to Do Some Proper Work for Once. Here’s How to Quit Your Smartphone Addiction.
According to Tristan Harris, the one-time ‘digital ethicist’ for Google and now the founder of the Center for Humane Technology, our obsession with technology is actually “downgrading” us as humans.
Many of our basic faculties, he suggests, are actually becoming worsened by our dependence on technology. Our memory isn’t quite as sharp as it may once have been. We’re not quite as good at interpreting people’s intention through their voices or their feelings through their words. And we are endlessly distracted: we can’t focus on things anymore, and we don’t give ourselves to relationships as we once did.
Of course, as a culture, we’ve always had anxieties about the effect of technologies on our faculties. Television makes you stupid has always been one. However, our concerns about social media applied to the radio back in the day. And we can go back to anxieties around the invention of the printing press and about writing itself. It all goes to prove that we have always been a little concerned about new ways of communicating and getting information.
However, these days, it seems a little different. Scientific studies are showing us that these particular technologies – smartphones, social media, constant notifications – are doing us harm. Like, for real. On a personal and social level.
So, if you are feeling like it’s all getting a bit much for you, your family, and your work, it’s time to stop. Here are five tips on how to quit your smartphone addiction.
Five Ways to Quit Your Smartphone Addiction.
The real sea-change with digital technologies occurred with the development of the smartphone (I blame BlackBerry). It changed the way that we did everything. Given that it is always in your pocket, you carry around with you all the pressures of the world. No matter where you go, and no matter how nice those pressures might sometimes be.
This, really, is a strange way of living – and one that has its impact on your relationships, mental health, and ability to work productively and achieve your goals. When you don’t how to stop getting distracted, you can’t apply yourself to anything. And that’s why you need to find out how to quit your smartphone addiction.
Here are five ways that I have found help me. Give them a try.
Remember Protected Time.
The simplest way to avoid distraction whilst you are working – from notifications, phone calls, or just a wondering mind – is protected time. This is scheduled time that you dedicate to undisturbed work, in which you turn your phone off and ensure everyone knows you’re not available.
You should be able to work without your phone. If it causes you a bit of anxiety to start off with, that’s okay – but it shows you need a digital detox more than most.
Make the Bedroom a Phone-Free Zone.
Being on your phone before bedtime is a thing whose harm is really underappreciated. It messes with your sleep – and it really should be a time to switch off from the things of the world. Sending emails in bed is something else, as it confuses your work-life boundaries to the extent that there is no free space from work.
As an early step in finding out how to quit your smartphone addiction is to leave your device outside of your room. You don’t need it. Set an alarm a different way.
Delete Apps and Turn Off Notifications.
Apart from its continuous presence, the thing about your smartphone is the way that it continually bleeps at you for your attention. And we all seem to have the bad habit of checking it every time it does so. This doesn’t make full focus and concentration a very common thing in our lives.
Turning off our app notifications is a very helpful way of combatting this. You won’t have the cue that the habit response requires. And honestly, who needs notifications from The Trainline anyway…
Deleting apps helps too. Because a phone can do anything, we expect it to do everything. An app that buzzes to let you know the weather is probably really only of limited use.
Remember the Other Things You Love.
Do you like anything else in the world other than your phone? Like being with your family? Reading a book? Having a good chat over a beer with your mate?
All of these things are made worse by the presence of phones. We’re not as connected with these activities as we should be when a phone is present.
Make a list of all the things that you love – and remember that you love them. Next time, don’t bother with your phone.
Go Out Without It.
The ultimate goal of all, the moment at which you can be sure you have cracked your smartphone addiction, is going out without your phone.
I used to be reluctant to go anywhere without it. I’d nip around the shop – a full thirty seconds away – but I’d always take my phone. I’d go for a jog or walk the dog, but I’d take my phone.
All of this just reinforces a sense of dependence which you don’t really have. You can start small – just leave it at home for a few hours at a time, or in the other room when you are relaxing with your family – and see how liberated you’ll feel. Then, leave it for longer and longer periods of time!
Go on…start your own mini digital detox!
Check out my podcast for more on this topic!