Obviously, technology makes life easier, fun and to an extent also more social. A study by the Nottingham Trent University has shown that the average person checks their phone 85 times a day, spending a total of five hours browsing the web and using apps. We get sucked in and the all important question arises... Do I want an iLife or a real life?
Let's be real here though. A complete disconnect (unless you're on holidays, trying to avoid getting sand into your phone) is just not going to happen. Whether we want it or not, smart phones are very much a part of our lives. From contacts and calendars, to social media networks and emails... everything is in there! And how does anyone even find new addresses without google maps these days?
There is however, like with everything in life, a balance. Being on your phone all of the time is just not good for you or your relationships for a so many reasons. Nevertheless, just like any fad diet, cutting out your phone completely is extreme and, if you're anything like me, unsuccessful.
So, how can you moderate your phone use without feeling massive FOMO and like you're depriving yourself?
One Step At A Time
I've experimented with different things and found that it's all a matter of getting used to things. I am a reasonably heavy phone user and addicted to the time draining black holes that are Pinterest, Snapchat and YouTube.
The hardest part was trying (and the emphasis is on trying) not to go on my phone in the evening when I'm in bed. Pure TORTURE! But the way I got around that, was getting back into the habit of reading in bed. An actual paper book. After a few pages I get so sleepy that I don't even think about picking up the phone. And to make absolutely sure I don't (and to minimise distractions while I'm sleeping), I pop on flight mode every night when I go to bed. It helps!
NO to Notifications
There is a scary amount of notifications that come flying at us from all sorts of devices. Even if we are not getting a notified, as soon as we think we hear a ping or feel a vibration our mind goes straight to the phone and we check it, just in case!
Obviously, you will want to still be notified of new text messages etc. but take 10 minutes one day to go through your notification centre and switch off anything that you don't think is necessary. This will cut down the distractions and hopefully help you get used to picking up your phone a little less.
The Art Of Mono-Tasking
Multi-screening just like multi-tasking is THE thing of today, which means that we rarely get the opportunity to do anything and give it our full attention. We've gotten so good at doing ten things at a time that I feel like we lost the ability to do just one thing at a time. I catch myself watching TV while browsing ASOS on my laptop and occasionally checking my phone. Which meant I had no idea what was going on in the tv show I'm meant to be watching...
These days if I find myself in this situation, I just make a call and more often than not end up turning off the TV to continue my unhealthy ASOS addiction. But at least I'm only doing one thing at a time, which definitely feels way more relaxing and mindful.
In our social media driven world I so often have the feeling that I need to document absolutely everything. If I don't take a photo of this amazing food or a beautiful sunset - did it actually happen?
This was definitely a hard one... I've started to occasionally leave my phone behind. When I go for a walk or Sunday brunch the phone stays at home so I can fully take in the food, sunsets and interactions with the people around me (who all have their phones with them, but at least I can lord my ability to disconnect over them :P) It's not easy, especially when I find myself alone for 3 minutes with NOTHING to browse but it forced me to notice things, talk to people and take a deep breath every now and then instead of continuously scrolling.
Work in Progress
I am by no means perfect at this. You will not see me serenely levitating 6 inches off the ground. It's more likely you will see me frantically running down the street while trying to text but I've loved every single one of those quiet moments of disconnect and I try to get better at it every day!
Have you ever attempted any sort of digital detox?