How many times today have you picked up your phone and started scrolling without even realizing it? How often do you mindlessly scroll through, not even seeing what you’re looking at? Having technology so easily available, and the entire world at our fingertips, is actually turning out to be quite the struggle! Everywhere we look, there are people glued to their phones and other electronic devices. Families can’t sit through dinner without texting and the constant buzzing of notifications. People can’t walk down the sidewalk or even drive down the road without scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. They’re so scared of missing out on someone’s status update or Snapchat. Meanwhile, how much are they missing in the real world around them? Hopefully by now, you have realized the need for controlling technology in your life! Today we’re going to be talking about 5 life changing strategies to break bad cell phone habits.
1. Put It to Sleep
Mindless scrolling aside- studies continue to prove and most of us would agree that it’s not a good habit to scroll through our phones at bedtime. Yet shutting down our phone or leaving it in the kitchen might leave us with some anxiety over missing an important phone call from a family member in need. An easy solution to this is to take advantage of the quiet time feature in your phone settings. Set yourself a time (mine is 8 pm-7 am) when your phone won’t ring, ping, buzz, or light up the room. My phone allows the settings to be adjusted so that it will still ring if I get a call from a contact in my favorites or if someone calls twice in a row. That way I don’t have to worry about actually missing an important call… and I don’t need to remember to silence my phone each evening.
Bonus: Remembering to use this time of day to unwind.
2. Adjust Your Notifications
Once again, head to your settings then tap on notifications. Keep your notifications as simple as possible. Obviously you want your phone to ring when someone calls (unless it’s on silent) and you want to get a little ping when a text comes through. But do you need your phone to ding every time someone comments on facebook? Does it need to buzz you with each new Instagram notification. Now let’s get a little deeper here. Just silencing the notifications doesn’t stop your eyes from seeing all of those red banners telling you how many notifications are on each app. Especially when many of them are generated by the app itself vying for your attention. The more times a app can get you to pick it up and scroll (even if it’s less than a minute or two) the more they can get from their advertisers for amount of views per day. They know this and they are willing to give you as many notifications as possible to get you to open it up again. So take a deep breath and turn off all those badges and banners! Check your apps when you want to check them- not when they call for your attention.
Bonus: Staying focused on real life.
3. Out of Sight Out of Mind
This one is easy… and it only takes a minute or two! Simply move your apps. Whatever you find that seems to always be catching your eye and distracting you from your daily grind- put it in “time-out.” Move it to the second or third page or just place it in the middle of a page where you have to clearly look for it. It’s amazing we think we are going to check the time and “Bam!” our thumb hits that Facebook button without even realizing it. Having those eye-catching apps just out of sight will definitely cut down on useless phone checks. Pretty much anything that is there now will still be there in another couple of hours!
Bonus: Being more mindful and less distracted.
4. Weekly Management
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Most of these tips require a bit of time to manage. We can have the best intentions, but without taking the time to put them into practice there is no progress. Take a little bit of time each week to analyze your own phone usage. Are you happy with it? Is it too much? Is it too little? Remember, there are many good ways we can use our phones to reach out, stay in touch, encourage, organize our lives, track our workouts and activity, set goals, learn from podcasts, ok…. I could go on forever here so I’ll just stop. Take a bit of time and arrange your apps to best suit you. Be sure to delete apps that are wasting your time. Double check your notifications. (i.e. If you are currently selling something, you will probably want those notifications turned on.) Every week or so I go through my podcast subscriptions to add a few or delete a few. Scroll through the photos and videos from the week (before it turns into months worth) and save, print, or share. And almost most importantly, keep your calendar organized! A well-managed phone is a very useful tool.
Bonus: Having a useful tool instead of a time waster.
5. Don’t Punish Yourself
In reality, most of us like our phones. They are pretty exciting and have a lot of cool, fun, and just plain practical features. Use what works for you. If you really enjoy playing Words With Friends, then play. If you enjoy scrolling through blogs, have a time in your week when you allow yourself to lie on the couch and browse happily away! The main idea though is the importance of you being in control. Let’s say you spend half an hour slumping through social media when you could have still been on your phone, but doing something you’d enjoy. Yet in retrospect realizing that an hour has already passed… you don’t even remember what you were scrolling through… and you would feel guilty about spending another 15 minutes on your phone. Use what works for you. Decide how you want to use your phone. I live every day by my Google calendar and lately have been enjoying tracking my sleep habits. I know others who use their Bible app to track daily reading. And even playing games online can be a fun way to connect or stay in touch with friends and family. I went through a little phase where I was making GIFs from videos of my kiddos. Technology can be fun and useful- as long as we remember who is in charge!
Bonus: Enjoying our phone without guilt.
Take FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) to another level. Instead of fearing what you might miss out on from checking your phone, fear what you are actually missing out on from what is right in front of you while you are glancing at your screen. Set boundaries. Make rules. Take control of your phone and your life so that you can enjoy both.
About the Author: Heidi Zander is a Pastor’s Wife, stay-at-home wife/mom and mother of 5 children who mostly spends her time cooking, cleaning, and chasing her kids in circles. She is actively involved in her church and plays a huge role in many different ministry opportunities. In her spare time, she enjoys spending quality time with her children, experimenting in the kitchen, playing basketball, writing, and many other things!