One thing that keeps me from slowing down and enjoying life is my phone. I let my phone steal too much of my time, encourage comparing myself to others, and distract me from what I need to be doing. Now I know that this isn’t a struggle for everyone, but it is common. This post is for you if you are wanting to break the habit of always looking at your phone and use your phone less often.
This is the fourth post in a series on simplifying your life. If you missed the beginning of this series, start here: 5 ways to simplify your life.
The fourth way to simplify your life and begin to enjoy it more is this: put your phone away. In our technology-driven society, it has become the expectation to answer your phone, answer the text, and respond to the email…immediately. It doesn’t have to. You don’t have to. People will change their expectations of you when you help shape them.
Here are some ways that I’ve found helpful for using phones less. See where you find yourself and make some small changes to get you to where you want to be.
1. Turn off notifications.
If you’re like me, you have notifications set up for everything. After all, what good is social media if you don’t see everything your friends and family post? When I have the badge icons turned on for my apps, I have a hard time ignoring them. It drives me CRAZY not to check the app to make the little red number go away. If this is you, turn off the badge icon so that you can resist the urge of opening apps like Facebook 20,000 times a day. If you use your phone for work (or for any type of focused activity), it might be helpful to turn off all notifications so that you aren’t interrupted in the middle of what you are doing to be told when a friend posts on Instagram for the first time in a week.
I’ve turned off the badge icon number for most of my apps. Because of work, I’ve left the number for my email, phone calls, and text messages. I’ve also turned off all notifications for my social media accounts. This way, I can be more disciplined in my attempts to only check social media at certain times during the day and will be successful in using my phone less.
2. Only use your phone during designated times.
In addition to turning off notifications, I have certain times when I allow myself to check social media. If this is something you want to start doing, it may look different for you than it does for me. For me, I check social media when I eat breakfast and lunch. Normally, I eat these meals alone so it is a smart time for me to be on my phone instead of when I would be ignoring people. Now that it’s summer and my kids are all home, this looks a little different. Now, I usually look at social media at breakfast time and during my kids’ quiet times when they are watching a show or working on an art project. My recommendation: don’t have your phone with you at the table if you are eating with others.
When you are in the middle of something important and someone calls or texts you, respond with a simple, “I can’t talk now. Can I call you later?” Or better yet, let it go to voicemail and call them back when it makes sense for you to do so. When you get an email you don’t have time to adequately respond to, mark it as unread so you don’t forget to reply later.
3. Put your phone away.
Sometimes, you literally need to put your phone away. It may be too tempting to pick up your phone if you can see it. I have set up our charging station in the bedroom, so when I don’t want to be dinking around on my phone, I plug it in and walk away. It is still close enough that I should hear it ringing, but it’s not so close that I find myself picking it up out of habit and not because I need it. Make a habit of putting your phone away when you are spending time with the people you love. Give them your undivided attention so those relationship continue to grow. The people who love you will appreciate that you are trying to use your phone less and become more present in your own life!
If you want more ideas for how to simplify your life, check out the other posts in the series on learning to say no, downsizing, and slowing down. Stay tuned next week for helpful tips to help you plan your priorities!
Do you struggle with using your phone too much? What do you find steals the most of your time and sanity and how will you work to get it back? Let us know in the comments!