How to have a healthier relationship with your phone

Let’s be honest, many of us are addicted to our devices. The compulsion to check the notification. The rinse and repeat cycle of app checking. Just one more hilarious short form piece of video content.

You’re not alone – this stuff is designed to be addictive and it takes strong discipline to survive in the 21st century (without becoming a hermit).

But the easiest way to create discipline is simply to change the design of your environment.

So how do we have a healthier relationship with our phones?

1. Leave it in a drawer at the end of the work day

Out of sight, out of mind goes the saying. And it really is true in this case. We can break the cycle of checking by literally removing the temptation to do so. When checking your phone requires you to get up, climb some stairs, open a door, travel across a room and open a drawer, we find that laziness can actually work for us instead of against us.

2. Turn off all of your phone notifications (apart from calls)

Notifications are annoying and generally don’t serve us. Every time you break your focus to check your phone, you are conditioning yourself to be distracted and grow your inability to do deep work. Besides, who is in charge anyways? You or your phone?

When you turn off notifications, you notice something very strange – that which once was urgent is suddenly not urgent at all. And you now have space to focus on the important.

There are some jobs where this is not possible. E.g. being on call as a doctor. But for most knowledge workers, the need to be permanently available is a myth. Have the necessary conversations with colleagues and leadership.

3. Don't use your phone as an alarm clock (just buy one)

Using your phone as an alarm clock makes it very easy to start the day on social media instead of exercise, prayer or all the other things you’d actually like to e doing. You actually don’t need to use your phone as an alarm clock – just spend £10 and get one. (Alternatively once you have kids, you don’t need alarm clocks anyways).

4. Put it across the room (or in a different room) when you sleep)

Sleeping next to your phone is such a bad idea. Ever wonder why you check your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night? Yeah that’s why.

Blue light (from your phone) is bad for sleep. And I find that thinking short-term first thing in the day sets me up for a shallow day.

5. Turn it off for 24 hours every week

If the idea of turning off your phone for 24 hours each week freaks you out then I have some good and bad news for you.

The bad news is that you have an addiction. The good news is that now you know about it.

One way to switch gears is to reverse the psychology. Instead of thinking about when you don’t get to use your phone, think about allowing yourself to have it for six days per week.

I use this technique during the day to have intense bursts of time on social media. Better to schedule 2 hours to be on Instagram than to let it creep into all day.

6. Take a book everywhere you go instead

The problem with phone addiction is not just the interaction with your device but also what it causes you to miss out on. This is what we call opportunity cost. What if we took all of that additional unnecessary time and invested it into reading (or whatever else you’d like to!)

I’ve found that taking a book with me greatly helps in those moments are waiting between appointments or moments.

Hi I'm Sats Solanki aka the Digital Rabbi.

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