Stop Letting Your Mobile Device Control You in 3 Easy Steps

Putting down your mobile device is easier than you think and will give you more time to do the things you love.

I've read several articles lately with tips on increased productivity and fewer distractions with mobile devices.  Its the yin and yang of owning a smartphone.  Many of us need our phones for work and daily tasks, but we could all stand to use our phones less.   How can we unplug to live in the moment more and remain productive at the same time?  Simple.  Decide if you are going to control your device or if you are going to allow it to control you.  Believe it or not, using your phone less can help you to be more productive and fulfilled in your daily life.

Turn Off Notifications

One of the biggest ways we are constantly distracted is the notifications we receive on our devices.  This can be random text messages, social media, and apps.  Many times we accept notifications to be pushed to our devices when we load new apps without thinking.  The constant beeping, pinging and flashing of notifications is distracting.   You may have been thinking about a task or email you were actually typing at your desk.  But now, you are distracted by a notification on social media.  These distractions interrupt conversations and even our driving.  Just turn it off.

Turn off the notifications that are not necessary for your daily tasks.

I have turned off the notifications for everything that I have not deemed necessary.  This means I no longer receive notifications for social media, text messages and other apps on my phone.  Most text messages are not emergencies.  If it is a real emergency, someone is going to pick up the phone and call you.  When you open up an app on your phone where you have turned off the notifications, you will see your notifications then.

It has taken some getting used to.  But, I find myself looking at my phone less often.  And, when I do, it has more of a specific purpose.  I also look at social media less because I'm blissfully unaware of what is happening in that virtual world.

I did leave notifications turned on for my calendar, Facetime, my vitamins, the gym and other apps that don't interfere with my day to day tasks.  These are the necessary and productive things that I can justify in my life.  It is different for everyone.  I challenge you to try this for a week.  I promise it will change the way you use your phone!

Change Your View

Most of us have pretty screensavers and lock screens that we enjoy seeing.  Set your background for your apps to black or a dark solid color.  It will be less appealing visually.  You can also change the wallpaper on your lock screen to something plain and basic.  After all, we are going for productive and not necessarily pretty here.

Change your wallpaper to something dark and plain.

Make your lock screen something basic and plan also.

If you own an iPhone, take advantage of features like Night Shift.  You can schedule your phone to automatically have a warmer glow during certain hours of the day.  The warm glow of Night Shift filters blue light.  It is less likely to interfere with sleep and is easier on the eyes.

Since so many of us peruse social media in bed, this is a good feature.  And while you are at it, put your phone done an hour before you plan to go to sleep.  Whatever is happening that late in the day can wait until tomorrow.

Nightshift mode filters blue light after specified times each day.

For Android users, install an app like Twilight to obtain the blue light filtering abilities of iOS Nightshift.  There is both a free and paid version of this app.

Monitor Your Screen Time

iPhones have a screen time feature that will tell how much time you are spending on your phone in different categories.  It is a stark reality that many of us should review.  It will show us how much time we are wasting on our phones.  Use this as a way to set goals for screen time use.  Make your time count.

If you are using your phone to work, then work and put it down.  Check social media once a day.  Set a time limit for these activities so that you don't fall down a virtual rabbit hole.  After all, you are in control of this.

How much time are you spending on your mobile device?  Monitor yourself and find out.

There are also apps that you can load onto your device to assist you with this task.  Space is available for both Android and Apple devices.  Set goals and track your progress to break the addiction to endless screen time.

Our smartphones can be a tool that we use to access information and communicate with others.  But, it can also be a huge distraction and a burden at times.  Studies even show that people spending more time on social media are lonelier than those who spend less time scrolling social sites.  Dialing back some of your phone use gives you to power to control how you interact with your mobile device and others.

Finally, remember that little eyes are watching what you are doing as an adult and role model.  Our children see how much time we are on our phones.  Children and teens begin to replicate how we use mobile devices.  If they see their parents constantly on their phones, it doesn't appear to be an addiction.  These habits become acceptable and normal.  Most every parent, including myself, has been guilty of ignoring our children while on a mobile device.  That time could be spent playing, coloring and reading books.  Those years are short.  We can't get them back.

Guard the time you have in 2019 and use it wisely.  At the end of the year, will you be recounting the events you watched on social media?  Or, do you want to make your own memories?  Putting down your phone allows you to reconnect with family and friends.   Plus, it isn't fair to join others for dinner only to be distracted by text messages with others and social media scrolling.

What is the worst thing that can happen?  If someone has to wait an hour for a text message response, that is okay.  If that person needed an immediate response, wouldn't they have picked up the phone and called you?  Letting go is the most freeing feeling of all.  I made these changes the week of Christmas, and I have already noticed a big change in my phone use and time.

What are some life changes you are making this year?  I'd love to hear about them.  Drop me a line and share your thoughts.

Until next time...

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