Electronic devices are riddled with tempting colors, sounds, and entertainment opportunities that make them hard to resist. With much of today’s work being done with such devices, tech is practically essential. Much of our connection with family and friends is digital, and you can tally up the screen time quickly.
Have your weekly phone usage report numbers crept higher than you’d like to admit? If you’re finding yourself sucked into social media instead of doing what you want and need to do, don’t despair. You can reclaim your time from the grip of technology. With these five tips, you can wrangle your tech habits and have a more balanced life.
You may have heard that your smartphone has more technology behind it than the first rocket to the moon. While it sounds outlandish, it’s true. Phones today often replace users’ cameras, video cameras, and computers. It’s only reasonable to expect that they’re beefed up with tech. These advances can be great when used with care, but they can easily become addictive.
If you’re in the market for a new device, resist the temptation to get the newest and most amped-up phone. Instead, consider a more basic device that can reduce the urge to be on your phone instead of in your life. Wireless carriers that specialize in kids phones can issue you a phone that features calling, texting, and photo capabilities. With fewer bells and whistles, you’ll be able to use your phone for the essentials and get back to life.
When you view your most recent usage report, take note of where you’re spending your time. If you realize you’ve been devoting five hours a day to social media, it’s clearly time to cut back. Setting a limit for yourself still allows you to use the apps you love — just in moderation. As an added bonus, you may increase your productivity and reduce your eye strain.
For example, you could commit to using social media only on Friday night. Implement this idea by putting your social media apps in a home screen folder and labeling it “Friday Night Only.” This will give you the visual reminder you need to help you stick to your commitment.
If there are other categories you struggle with, replicate this practice. Remember, it’s up to you to be honest and follow the rules you’ve set for yourself.
The sounds and haptics on your phone are designed to get your attention — and for good reason. Who wants an alarm clock sound that they can sleep through? Your phone can trigger a dopamine response just by alerting you to a new text or breaking news story. It’s no wonder you leap to its attention when it makes a sound!
Help yourself break away from constantly being available to your device and its alerts by adjusting your settings. Go into your phone’s settings, look for sounds and haptics, and turn off vibrate. This can serve as your first line of defense at protecting your attention span even when your phone is silent.
Next, update your key contacts’ information, assigning each one a unique alert. This way, you can differentiate between a text from your spouse and an appointment reminder from your dentist. Once you get used to your new settings, you can better manage phone pickups throughout your day.
You know how when something is in front of you, you’re more likely to interact with it. Just think of those donuts in the breakroom or the leaky faucet in the kitchen. What’s seen and heard gets your attention and your energy.
Use this common phenomenon to your advantage and elevate the apps you want to use and downgrade the rest. An easy way to accomplish this is to force your time-sucking apps to a secondary screen. While shifting to the secondary screen, create folders that can corral the apps you want to avoid. Keep the tools you need frequently on your main page, and you won’t have to move to the next screen.
If you’re more tempted to get sucked into browser tabs on your laptop, you can adjust this practice accordingly. On your computer, delete any favorited pages that steal your time and avoid designating them as home pages. Using this approach, you’ll stay focused and stand a better chance at sticking to your self-imposed screen limits.
If you need firmer boundaries around your availability and attention span, consider deploying Do Not Disturb settings on your phone. Do Not Disturb mode disallows any notifications or calls from coming through your device while you have it active. Using this feature can help you stay focused on a critical project at work and present as you spend time with friends and family.
To update your phone, go into your Do Not Disturb settings. You can activate this feature manually or set a scheduled time when you want it to be active. For safety and sanity purposes, update your favorite contacts and allow their notifications to go through when the setting’s on.
If you struggle with checking your phone while driving, consider using the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. This feature allows you to add an automatic text that responds to texts on your behalf while it’s engaged. This helpful text can reassure friends and family that your delay in responding is because you’re driving safely.
Smartphones and other devices are tools that enhance our lives, giving us access to information, friends, and fun. Unfortunately, they can also distract us from what’s most important, no matter the time of day.
You can take back control with focused effort and these helpful tips. Once you’ve wrangled your screen time, you may just find that you don’t even miss it. No matter your approach, you’ll be establishing healthy tech boundaries and refocusing on what’s important to you.