If you’re anything like me, your smartphone may as well be chained to your hand. It’s with me wherever I go and gives me a serious anxiety attack at the thought of accidentally leaving it behind in a bar or restaurant when really it’s just at the very, very, very bottom of my handbag. But, with time running out on assignment deadlines and exams on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to get rid of all distractions. So sorry iPhone, and all my loyal fans and followers on Instagram and Snapchat, I have no choice but to break up with you. And yes, I know, it’s going to kill everyone to not know what I’m having for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and how I’m spending my weekends, but it’s time to prioritise. If you’re also feeling under pressure and want to lessen the amount of time you spend looking at memes and Snapchat stories, check out this list I’ve compiled on the best way to break your worst phone habits.
1) Hi, my name is _____, and I’m a phoneaholic:
The first step to breaking your addiction is to admit you have a problem. The best way to do this is to see the evidence for yourself. Apps like Moment or Space track how much time you spend on your phone daily, how many times you pick up your phone, and even how much time you spend on your phone while walking. Using apps like this will help you see how many hours per day you spend staring at the little aluminium box in your hand. The apps will help you set goals and limits on how much you pick your phone up. Generally, we spend an average of 3.5 hours on our phones daily. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time until you compare it to spending 3 and a half hours sitting in the same lecture in a stuffy room, or when you consider how there are only 24 hours in a day. All that time on your phone cuts it down to 21.5 hours, and then we sleep for around 8 hours so that gives us roughly 12 hours to be productive (but don’t forget to add in Netflix and chill time).
2) “Want to go for coffee so I can post a photo of my Skinny Double Hazelnut Shot Chai Latte on my Snapchat story?”:
A crucial step in breaking up with your smartphone is being more aware of how it’s hindering you from being more present in the moment. We all have a friend who when we meet with them they spend the entire time replying to texts, snapchatting selfies or taking pictures of their meal. If you haven’t got one of those friends, there is a strong chance that you are that friend. Sure, smartphones are great for keeping in contact with your friends but try to take notice of the ways it affects how present you are when hanging out with them. Are you more focused on putting up a story than you are having a conversation? Are you checking your phone for texts or messages every few minutes? It’s completely fine to keep your followers updated on what you’re up to, but just make sure you’re placing an equal importance on real-life communication as you are to your online relationships.
3) Out of sight, out of mind:
This is a tricker one, but it’s not a bad idea to completely delete distracting apps from your phone. With the growing popularity of social media apps, smartphones have become one of the best sources of entertainment. However, our obsession with social media apps such as Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat means that sometimes our phones become more of a distraction than just something we use when we’re bored. How many times have you tried to finish an assignment but haven’t because you’ve spent half an hour trying to decide on what filter looks best on your newest Instagram post, or using Messenger to tell your friends how annoyed you are that you can’t go out tonight because you still have 1,000 words left to write? I know this will be hard for those suffering from an extreme case of fomo but trust me, you’ll thank me later when the rest of your friends are pulling an all-nighter to study and you’re tucked up in bed snug as a well-prepared bug.
4) Remember that big metal box that used to ring in the morning to wake us up?:
Smartphone, you’re the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see before I close my eyes at night. This is another reason why we are not working out. Research has shown that staring at your phone right before you get some shut-eye can cause you to stay awake longer as being in an environment with bright lights sends a signal to your brain to stay alert. That one last final scroll you have through Facebook and Instagram is actually affecting you more than you realise. Not only have you got whatever news you’ve just seen on your social media’s spinning around in your head, you have told your brain to stay awake making it harder to drift off into a night's sleep. To combat this, try putting your phone away an hour before it’s time to go to bed. But, don’t forget to set your alarms before you do this. Or, invest in a simple, good, old-fashioned alarm clock. It didn’t fail or parents or our grandparents, so it won’t fail you.
5) Keep it on the QT:
My final tidbit of advice on ditching your bad phone habits is to turn off all push notifications. Or, at least the ones that don’t require immediate attention. The world will not fall apart if you can’t reply to every message immediately, or open each Snapchat, or reply to some comments. By turning off your notifications you’ll be less likely to become distracted. The constant buzzing and pings of notification alerts draw your attention to your phone screen almost like someone is beside you tugging your sleeve every few minutes all day long, every day. Checking one notification can very quickly turn into liking a few Instagram posts, and checking one or two Snapchat stories. All of a sudden, you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of tagging your friends in endless reams of memes on Facebook. Before you know it, you’ve been on your phone for 20 minutes straight. You have no idea what your friends around you are talking about, your tea has gone cold and you don’t have the slightest clue of what’s going on in the film you’re all watching. Do yourself a favour and put your phone on silent, drink your tea, watch the film and talk over it.