Do you have the kind of relationship with your smartphone where it feels like you fight all the time, but end up having really great sex?
Where you get so stressed out you put it down and walk away, only to come crawling back after 5 minutes because you can’t help yourself?
So you pick it up and passionately open all your apps, getting one dopamine hit after another.
Click click click, fuck fuck fuck, “Ahhhhhhh yeahhhhh…”
The problem is once you’re done you feel depleted, like someone whose been used and abused. You end up loathing yourself because you didn’t have the willpower to say no, again!
Anyone else feel like this?
Well, if you do, then welcome to the club! If you don’t, well, I suspect you’re not reading this article. Actually, I suspect you live in a forest.
Anyway, today I’m putting my foot down. Enough is enough! This time I really am breaking up with my phone.
Ok, ok, no I’m not, the sex is too damn good, however, I am determined to have a relationship with it on my own terms – to have sex only as and when I want it.
The question is, how the fuck?
Well, here are 8 ideas I googled while sitting on the toilet for the past hour…
1. Admit You Have An Addiction
Let me be the first to admit I’m addicted to my phone. I feel naked without her. Sometimes I am naked with her (shhhhh – don’t tell my wife).
If you’re not sure whether you might be addicted too (you are), I highly recommend taking this quick Smartphone Compulsion Test.
It was developed by David Greenfield, PhD, of the Centre for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
He said, “If you answer “yes” to more than 5 out of the 15 questions, it indicates you have a problematic relationship with your mobile device. More than 8 and you might consider seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist who specializes in behavioral addictions for a consultation.”
Just be warned the article also said, “it seems the only way to score below a 5 on this test is to not have a smartphone…”
2. Buy An Alarm Clock
If you were born after the year 2000 and are wondering what an alarm clock is, it’s a primitive device people used before the invention of smartphones.
Yes, about the same time that dinosaurs were roaming the planet.
Anyway, it does two things. One, it tells you the time, and two, it sounds an alarm for when you wish to wake up in the morning, hence the name alarm clock.
“No, and my phone does that anyway so why would I buy one?
Because everything starts with a good night’s sleep and with your phone by your side the temptation to check it is too great.
And what happens if you do?
The blue light makes it harder for you to sleep. Which, if you already have trouble sleeping, can quickly turn into a vicious cycle.
Buying yourself a dinosaur alarm clock and leaving your phone out of the bedroom while you sleep.
3. Leave Your Phone In The Bedroom During The Day.
First thing in the morning, after I’ve made my bed, I meditate for 20-30 mins. Afterwards I collect my phone – which spent the night in my office – and place it inside my sock draw next to my bed (no joke).
I only check it for messages/emails after I have gone through my morning routine. So long as I’m at home, this is where it lives.
This forces me to ask the question, “Do I really need to have sex with my phone right now? Or should I retain my focus for something more pressing?”
Of course it doesn’t have to be your bedroom, but I suggest you leave it somewhere that’s a little awkward to reach – like inside a cookie jar at the very top of your kitchen cabinet.
The idea is to design your environment so you don’t have to rely on willpower alone. Of course it takes willpower to walk to a specific place to check your phone which is the point.
This prevents you from mindlessly scrolling costing you precious attention and time throughout the day.
4. Delete All Social Media And Email Applications
The idea with this is to create “friction points” within the phone itself.
“But if I delete my apps how will I be able to check my social media feeds?”
By using your web browser of course. I know, how inconvenient right? Of course that’s the point.
Here are a few other ideas:
- Turn off all notifications
- Remove all distraction-based apps from your home screen (or entirely)
- Use airplane/do not disturb modes
- Keep your phone on silent at all times
For more about these ideas check out this YouTube clip from Tim Ferris below:
5. No Little Screens In Front Of Big Screens
You’re either watching the TV or you’re not. You’re either on your phone or you’re not. Your’e either talking to your friends or you’re not. You’re either doing work or you’re not.
You get it!
Multitasking is a myth. Attempts to do so only diminish your ability to focus on any one thing. For that reason one of my rules at home is to have no little screens in front of big screens.
This prevents you from mindlessly looking at your phone while you’re in front of the television. The benefit being you will enjoy what you’re watching much more.
Another benefit is you’ll be able to focus better at your computer when all other distractions (and devices) are out of sight.
6. No Phones At The Dinner Table
The minimum we can do to demonstrate love for our family during dinner time is by leaving our phones off the dining table.
This is something I like to call, having good Tablet Manners.
Another rule I have is no phones in the bathroom. If you’ve found yourself taking a 30 minute poo while scrolling Instagram you’ll understand why this is important.
I place books to read next to my toilet instead. Something I talked about a long time ago in this article: How To Gain Enlightenment While Taking A Dump.
Once again the idea is about designing your environment to promote positive habits and curb bad ones. Instead of bringing your phone into the toilet, stick some spiritual books next to the loo so you can read a profound quote and really sit on it…
This helps you cultivate mindfulness instead of mindlessness while on the potty.
7. Prioritise And Schedule Human Interaction
Allow me to give you some damning statistics.
- The typical smartphone user touches his or her phone 2,617 times every day. (Talk about a touchy relationship hey?)
- Most people spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day.
Now consider the amount of time you dedicate to conversing, in person, with the people in your life. If you’re like me, that ought to sober you right the fuck up!
So here’s what I suggest you do: Schedule and make the time for the people you love.
Organise play time with your children, date nights with your partner, drinks with your friends, etc. Whatever it is, when you do, make sure to leave your phone somewhere else, or, at least, turn it off and really give yourself to the people in your life.
Make them understand that they are more important than the screen inside your pocket.
8. Have A Digital Sabbath One Day Per Week
To list the tip of the iceberg, our smartphones are also:
- Reducing the quality of our conversations.
- Adversely impacting our short-term memory.
- Reducing our quality of sleep.
- Increasing obesity.
- Increasing negativity, distress, while reducing emotional recovery in our children.
- Increasing rates of anxiety and depression.
I suspect that one day the general population will seriously reconsider the relationship they have with their smartphones. Perhaps in a similar way to how people did with smoking back in the 1950s. The truth is scrolling is the new smoking. There’s a good reason why Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t let their children near them.
I sincerely believe if we are to protect our own children we need to get a handle on our own addiction first. As adults we need to demonstrate how to have a healthy relationship with them.
That’s why my final recommendation is to implement a digital sabbath where, for one day a week, you go completely screen free. A day dedicated to simply being.
For me it’s the equivalent of hitting the reset button. I spend it going for leisurely walks, reading books and being with my family. It serves as an important reminder, for my family and I, that we really don’t need our phones to live a happy, healthy life.
(Thanks for reading everyone. I sincerely hope you got some ideas about how to live more harmoniously with your smartphones. Out of interest, what tips or advice do you have, if any, for living more mindfully with yours? As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog.)