As I drove to work today, I happened upon a strange sight: three cars next to me in each consecutive lane, with each person staring at their phone. It was like watching synchronized swimming at break neck speed… text, glance at road in unison, text, and continue… cue classical music. It was funny to watch, but it was also completely horrifying. In the grand scheme of things, phones have not been around for that long, but we love to have them in our lives (and for good reason). Phones allow us to FaceTime with family on the other side of the globe or watch cat videos during work when things aren’t going so hot. But phones also dominate Thanksgiving dinner and serve as a barrier to avoid actually having to talk to people around us. And sometimes when we use them at the wrong time, they lead can lead someone to their death. Phones are useful and valuable, but being addicted to the little screen in your pocket can have more negative effects than you realize. Stop stalling; it’s time to break that phone addiction. Here are some strategies you can use to get started:
Don’t look at your phone when you wake up and when you go to sleep.
When I first started teaching, I would check work emails after I would kiss my husband goodnight. Then, for some reason, I found myself constantly waking up in the night and having scary teacher dreams where my students would band together and get me fired. Once I stopped looking at my phone late at night and early in the morning, I stopped waking up in the middle of the night and my mornings were peaceful rather than filled with thoughts of social media and work emails.
A trick you can use to accomplish this is avoiding charging your phone on your nightstand. The more accessible your phone is, the more you will be tempted to check it. Thirty minutes before bed, plug that sucker in and just check it in the morning to turn off your alarm. You can also turn on “night shift” which adds a red tint to your phone. The red tint makes your phone less shocking to your sleepy senses and allows you to check your phone at night without blinding yourself. Let the first and last thirty minutes of your day be filled with peace and relaxation.
Check to see what you’re actually using your phone for.
This tip primarily applies to iPhone users, but I’m sure there’s a way to do this on an android. If you go under “Settings” in your iPhone, then select “Battery,” it will allow you to actually see how much time you’ve spent on each app. This can be pretty shocking (it was for me!). Set goals on how much time you want to spend on your phone, then monitor your progress from week to week. You can see my usage to the right. Two hours on texting?!?!
Delete your favorite apps. Turn off notifications.
When I feel like I’m having a hard time being present with the people around me, sometimes I delete the apps that are stealing my attention away. I’ll be out doing something amazing and fun with my husband, I’ll want to post about it, and then I find myself watching the post to see how people respond to it for the rest of whatever it is we happen to be doing. It’s a total buzzkill for both of us, but sometimes I can’t help it! Now, when I know it’s going to be a problem, I delete the app (or apps) from my phone or turn off my notifications so that my phone isn’t buzzing and binging for the next few hours. When there’s nothing popping up on your phone, it’s a lot easier to avoid tapping in your code and staring at that screen.
Set boundaries with your loved ones.
Phone addiction got your boyfriend, husband, or mom down? Ask them what they’ve noticed about your phone usage and if they notice you on your phone a lot. Hearing how your habits affect others might help you find your reason to stop pulling out your phones. Discuss and set goals together for how you want to avoid using your phone while you’re together. Keep each other honest. Goals always work best when you set them together.
Put your phone where you can’t get to it when you get in the car.
Texting while you’re with people: potentially damaging in the long term. Texting while driving: potentially destructive in the short term. According to the U.S. Government website for distracted driving, “Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.” That’s a long way to drive without knowing what’s in front of you. I still struggle with texting and driving, and so my new goal is to put my phone in the glove compartment or somewhere I cannot reach it while I am driving. If it’s out of sight, it can be (mostly) out of mind.
What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself from being constantly glued to your phone? Please share in the comments section below. Want more from Just Stalling? Subscribe to get the latest updates, exclusive giveaways, and continuous content.