Whether it’s in our pocket, our bag or even in another room it is usually within easy reach and constantly demanding our attention. Phones have really taken over our lives and in many ways are hugely beneficial to us but they are also sapping our time.
Have you ever said “I don’t have time for that today” and yet have you paid attention to how much time has then been spent on social media watching humorous gifs, playing mindless games or reading articles that have not actually benefitted you in any way? I know I have.
I do appreciate that a quick check of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram offers a brief period of escapism from our busy and sometimes isolated lives. It can offer solace from people who may be going through similar experiences to our own and it can help us to feel connected with others for a little while. Yet, it is very easy to let a few minutes turn into half an hour or more and that is valuable time you will never get back.
There is no denying the fact that phones are hugely beneficial to us. We have information available at our fingertips that is instantly accessible. Need to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius? There’s an app for that. Need to track your babies feeding/changing/sleeping? Theres an app for that and if there isn’t an app then an internet search is usually possible with all the wifi that exists!
My husband and I recently travelled to Birmingham which is around a 2 hour drive from where we live. As we drove past Coughton Court I looked it up on the internet and found out that there was a link with the Gunpowder plot and that led to us deciding we wanted to learn more about the tudors. Good old Wikipedia came up trumps and while DB drove I read out page after page of British History. By the time we got home we had gone through Henry VIII (we missed out Henry VII) and all his wives to Elizabeth I.
I think it was a journey well spent! Phones can offer a wealth of information and do offer fantastic learning opportunities.
The downside is that often our phones, rather than providing a connection, actually isolate us further. They can cause relationships to suffer. Husbands and Wives spend whole evenings staring at a screen instead of talking to the other person in the room. Mothers and Fathers ask the children clamouring for their attention to ‘wait’ or ‘go and play’ so they can finish writing an ‘important’ status update.
So, the question is how can we tear ourselves away from the frivolous activities on our phones so that we can use it more effectively or spend focused time doing a productive activity such as investing in our relationships, exercising, reading a real book, learning something new or doing something else that we ‘don’t have time for.’
Here are 10 tips that may help, try them for a week and see how much more productive you can be
1.Ban phones at mealtimes….yes, even breakfast. Use the time to talk to your family, friends, partner or housemates. Find out what they have planned for the day or how their day has been. Have a conversation with a real person.
2. Have scheduled ‘no phone time ‘ during the day. It can be useful to have a reminder on your phone (ironic!!) that it is time to shut off for awhile. I reckon a minimum of an hour and a half a day, not necessarily all in one go e.g. 3 half hour intervals a day
3. Have scheduled times with a time limit to catch up on social media and don’t look at it for the rest of the day
4. Have phone free date nights with your other half.
5.Have dedicated special time with each of your children. Put your phone on silent or if someone does call, answer and say’ I’m really sorry I can’t talk at the moment. Can I call you back later?” This has a twofold effect of not only reducing your phone use but also lets your child know that they are more important than the person on the phone.
Urgent calls that cannot wait half an hour have to be taken but only truly urgent calls, not work related calls, I am talking about if a family member or friend is sick or something similar.
6. Use an app that monitors your screen use or helps to actively reduce it. e.g. forest (grow trees with time away from your phone), Offtime (customisable to reduce distraction), Breakfree (analyses your phone use), Checky (allows you to know how many times you have checked your phone)
7. Be consciously aware of when that ‘quick check’ has turned into more than that and halt it in it’s tracks
8. People watch, read a book or simply ‘be’ when waiting for a bus, train, meeting etc instead of instantly turning to your phone
9. Never take a phone into the bathroom
10. Use your phone for what it was originally designed for. Call a friend, family member or colleague for a good old chinwag and set the world to rights!