I started analyzing my relationship to my phone when I got serious about being more productive. One obvious way to improve your productivity is to recognize what gets in the way of you getting things done. For me, my phone was an immediate and first response.
Now, I’m not talking about the many things we can do on our smart phones to further what we are up to. I’m not talking about the actual work that can be accomplished or the connecting with other people that can take place. I’m referring to the mindless, numbing out type of behaviors that make our phones a hindrance rather than a help.
I had no idea the extent of my own addiction. Addiction is a pretty strong word but it’s the best fit so I’ll keep it. It speaks to the compulsion that I experience. I feel inclined to make excuses about how I work from home so all my social interaction is online or how I use social media for promotion. Blah. Blah. Blah. But the truth is, I often feel tethered to my phone. I sometimes pick it up and unlock it for no real reason at all. When I need a way to avoid doing what I don’t want to do, my phone is the easiest escape.
Ahhh, it feels good to tell the truth.
Do you have a phone addiction too?
7 signs you might have a problem:
1. Do you start reading your emails (or Facebook/Instagram/Twitter) before you ever get out of bed?
2. Do you have your phone on the table next to you during dinner (just in case)?
3. Do you take it to the bathroom with you and stay longer than necessary just to keep reading?
4. Do you pick up your phone to answer a text message only to find yourself perusing Instagram (or whatever) fifteen minutes later?
5. Do you feel panicked if you can’t find it or accidentally leave it at home?
6. When driving, do you see the traffic light turn yellow and instinctively reach for your phone so you can check Facebook (or whatever else you check) while waiting?
7. When the traffic light turns green do you have to force yourself to quit reading and put the phone down? Do you occasionally continue reading while accelerating onto the highway, all the while screaming at yourself to PUT THE PHONE DOWN AND DRIVE?
If you answered yes to any of these questions (and especially if you answered yes to all 7 of them), you might just have a problem.
I am guilty of all 7 of these harmful habits and I’m out to make a change.
Last week I downloaded a handy little app called Break Free.
The app tracks how many times you unlock your device, how much time you spend online and which apps you use most frequently. You can set personal time limits and get warnings when you’ve exceeded them, turn off distracting notifications for specified periods of time and other useful things like sending auto-responses to callers so you can stay focused.
Since downloading the app I’ve tracked my phone usage at 2 hours and 30 minutes a day on average. I’ve started thinking twice before picking up my phone and I’m actually considering if what I’m intending to do supports my commitments or not. Sometimes the answer is yes and at other times it’s no, at which point I resist the urge and take a deep breath instead. Either way, it’s causing me to stop and think.
My intent is to bring mindfulness to everything I do, to be awake to my life, my choices and my experiences. I wake up early to start my day in meditation because I have a commitment to strengthening my mindfulness muscles. What’s the point of making such effort just to numb out reading emails and unconsciously scrolling Instagram for long periods of time each day. It’s sort of like going to a killer spin class and then eating a big piece of chocolate cake. It not only makes me less productive but it’s in direct contradiction to my own commitment to be present which means I’m also less fulfilled.
Bringing intention and presence to what I’m doing as I’m doing it, regardless of what it is – washing dishes, checking email, petting Rambo – is the surest way I know to feel truly alive. And I really like to feel alive.
In what ways do you get distracted or attempt to escape? Where would you like to bring more intention to your life? I’d love to hear from you.