Twenty years ago, AOL’s instant messenger made its debut, placing instant communication within reach without summoning the help of a phone. At this time, kids were enjoying Game Boys and Nintendo 64 gaming systems, in addition to bikes and Razor scooters. Landlines were still the primary form of mobile communication, and people didn’t even know what ‘texting and driving’ was yet. And, even though this technological era was exponentially more advanced than years gone by, digital life was still pretty simple.
In 2017, however, mobile phone usage is out of control. We don’t leave our phones at home while we go to dinner with our partners, or even consider taking our kids in public without some sort of digital babysitter. We respond to emails in traffic, text our kids throughout the day, rely on our phones to remind us of meetings, work in front of blue screens, and ignore those sitting directly across from us at lunch.
And, even though SevenTablets develops mobile software, we don’t encourage people to linger in the digital realm for longer than they need to. Why, you ask? There’s significant scientific evidence to support that individuals who spend time connected to nature (rather than smartphones or hunkered down indoors) experience more positive emotions and less anger. Additionally, hospitalized patients that were able to see nature got out of the hospital faster, had fewer complications and required less pain medication than those forced to stare at a wall. Based on the indisputable evidence that managing device usage is better for overall well-being, we want to offer several tips to help you disconnect from your devices as often as possible.
Download mobile phone usage limiting apps.
Because phone addiction is such a real, debilitating problem, several apps have been built to assist you in limiting your usage. For iOS and Android devices, you can use OffTime or BreakFree to track your daily mobile phone usage and limit access to certain apps. Once you realize how much time you’re actually spending on your phone, you’ll cringe every time you pick it up.
Charge your phone in another room.
Most people charge their phones while they sleep. You can kill two birds with one stone by putting your phone on charge in another room while you sleep. According to a UK survey conducted by Deloitte, 58% of people checked their phones within 30 minutes before going to bed. This may not seem like such a big deal, but the results of several studies concluded that access to or use of devices reduce sleep quantity and quality, as well as increase daytime sleepiness. Simply put, relying on that old analog clock might not be such a bad idea after all.
Intentionally limit distractions.
When you have your phone with you, it’s best to keep it on silent, as well as face down. As you might expect, the inability to see and hear notifications as they appear will decrease your likelihood of picking up your phone for insignificant reasons. This detachment can greatly increase your productivity and focus, especially while driving. In fact, the United States would experience 25% fewer car accidents if drivers would put their phones away before hitting the road.
Uninstall your social media apps (or hide them).
Unless you work in marketing and are required to update Facebook, Instagram and Twitter regularly, these apps are inessential. The best thing to do is delete them entirely, so you don’t find yourself two years deep into an acquaintance’s photos. But, if absolute abandonment isn’t an option for you, you can simply turn off notifications for the offending apps and store them in a folder away from your home screen. These extra precautions will shield you from countless mindless interruptions brought on by unnecessary mobile phone usage.
Block certain sites while using your computer.
Many of us find ourselves distracted by websites like Amazon.com, Facebook, and many others when we should be working. Sometimes, self-control lags so far behind that we have to proactively prevent desktop distractions. You can do this by Googling something like ‘website blocker for Chrome (of whichever browser you use).’ These browser plugins will prevent you from accessing time-wasting websites during certain hours of the day, significantly increasing your productivity.
Leave your devices at home during certain activities.
Do you take your dog on daily walks or regularly jog around the neighborhood? When possible and safe to do so, leave your phone at home. Mobile device usage keeps the brain focused on dozens of random (and usually unimportant) things throughout the day. These topics keep us from focusing on the things that really matter, like our appreciation for the nature outside our front door, career challenges and personal relationships. Giving yourself time to step away from the screen allows your brain to process important topics with clarity. This uninterrupted personal time critical to both physical and mental health.
Create ‘no phone zones’ for your family.
Did you grow up eating at the dinner table with your family? These days, kids (and adults for that matter) would rather eat dinner in front of the TV screen or glued to their mobile devices. But, many families and couples would benefit from implementing a ‘no phones at the dinner table’ rule. According to a Pew Research study, 82% of respondents agreed that cellphone use during dinner hurt conversation at least some of the time. Considering that face-to-face communication is the foundation of healthy relationships, avoiding mobile phone usage during family gatherings is a no-brainer.
Optimize your output in the spirit of ‘The 4 Hour Workweek.’
Many people check their phone every time it buzzes. While staying in the loop is necessary, responding within in moments usually isn’t. In Tim Ferriss’ book, ‘The Four Hour Work Week,’ he recommends choosing one or two times to check email per day (actually, per week). The same recommendation can also apply to smart phones. By limiting your responses to certain windows of time, you maximize your output while limiting distractions during key work hours. Accomplishing this could be done with unwavering self-control, certain usage-limiting apps, or by putting the power button to work.
Here at SevenTablets, we want you to maximize your time with family and friends, lead a happy and successful life, and enjoy nature! After all that, we would be thrilled for you to enjoy the apps we’ve built, too.
If, after reading this, your company would like to build an app to make working more efficient, communications more direct, and life easier in general, we can help. SevenTablets specializes in building mobile apps for a broad range of businesses, from start-ups to Fortune 500s. We’re conveniently located in Dallas, with offices in Houston and Austin. This central location makes us ideal for companies needing mobile app development in Texas, as well as those in the greater United States. To get started on your next mobile development project, contact the team at SevenTablets today.
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Lacey earned a B.A. from Baylor University. Sic'em!
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