Today’s technology is incredible. We can communicate so easily and share ideas, photos, videos, and art with countless people via the internet, social media, or even just email or text messaging. That said, our smartphones can be powerful tools in the business world and as an artistic outlet.
Since my job change last year, I have started to rely heavily on my iPhone in doing business. My job is to update all of D’Flo Productions‘ social media sites, as well as track traffic from the website, promote videos, and host give-aways. Not to mention I need to be available to respond to emails and phone calls and update schedules via iCalendar.
I also use my phone to listen to music and podcasts, read on my kindle, and occasionally watch Netflix. I use it to look up information on IMDB, order from Amazon, text my friends, scroll through my personal social media accounts, set reminders to take my vitamins, track exercise and steps on my Fitbit app, look up recipes, learn how to better use my doterra essential oils, read blog posts, scan coupons on my Walgreens or Starbucks card, and I even use the alarm feature to wake up in the morning.
I know I am not alone in this.
There are probably millions of people who do a lot of important work from their smartphones, as well as use it for more personal or enjoyment purposes.
With this being the case, our smartphones can sort of control our lives if we are not careful. In fact, there are times when I personally feel like I can get lost for hours on end in the tiny world of my iPhone, browsing through different apps, scrolling through Instagram, or checking my email for the 17th time.
I began to work on curbing my iPhone use a while back, even before I started my minimalist journey, and now that I’m committed to minimalism, I realize just how important it is to simplify phone usage and put boundaries on when I use it and for what purpose.
Here are 5 simple tips to help you spend less time on the screen, and more time being present in your real life:
1.) Use the Moment app to track your phone usage. You can use it a few days just to see the average amount of time you spend on your phone, and then you can set a realistic goal for yourself for how much you want to limit. Moment will even remind you to get off your phone if your nearing your allotted time amount, and you can recognize patterns and habits revolving around when and how you use your smart phone. This app can really raise your awareness and help you see what boundaries need to be set in the first place.
2.) Charge your phone at night, but leave it in another room besides your bedroom. If you use your phone as an alarm, invest in a real alarm clock. This will help you go right to sleep instead of scrolling through social media when you should be winding down. Research shows that if you look at the glowing screen of your phone before bed, you are less likely to fall asleep and get quality rest, so if you’re in the habit of reading from your kindle app before bed, try switching to a physical book instead. It will also help you start a productive day rather than laying in bed and spending those precious first moments of your morning mindlessly looking at Facebook before you’re even awake!
3.) Delete time-wasting apps so you are not tempted to play games or scroll through social media posts multiple times a day. Most of these apps can be accessed through websites anyways, so give yourself an allotted time slot to catch up on social media or play an online game, and then just stop. If you don’t have the app on your phone, you’re less likely to go to it when you’re bored or out of habit. You can even disconnect your email if checking it on the go isn’t necessary for your job. This way, the only time you’ll have to check it will be when you are at your computer, and so you won’t be tempted to needlessly check in with email or social media multiple times a day.
4.) Wear a watch and use a real camera. Many people use their phones to look at the time, but after digging it out of their pocket or purse, it’s just too tempting to go on and “quickly” check out what’s going on on on Instagram or log into our email for the 80th time. If you choose to wear a watch instead, you won’t have to be constantly looking at your phone to see what time it is; this way, you won’t have to even touch your phone as much as you would otherwise. And, if you use a real camera for those fun outings with the family or a night on the town with friends, you can be less tempted to post directly to social media and get sucked into being on your phone instead of enjoying time with the people you care about most. Sometimes it’s as simple as limiting the amount of times that picking up the smartphone is necessary.
5.) Use the “Airplane Mode” feature during work hours. For me, I only use this when I’m not posting on social media (since that’s part of my work). But when I’m designing, blogging, or working on a video edit, I turn that phone off or put it on Airplane mode so it has no way of distracting me. Even just a simple text message tone can break my focus, so I often choose to have some separation when I’m needing to be really productive at work.
And there you have it friends, some simple tips to take your life back from your smartphone. Reclaim your time and how you spend it by setting limitations and boundaries. Of course, there are countless other ways you can practice minimalism on your phone, and when it really comes down to it, we simply have to exercise a little self-control, something our society seems to have forgotten how to do.
The most drastic way we can become a minimalist in our phone use is downgrading to a “dumb phone”–one that only makes calls. Yes my friends, we can go back to what the phone was originally made for in the first place and simply make our calls on it.
Most of us remember the “dumb phone”, but soon our children will have never known anything other than smartphones. Let’s be careful what we teach them about the importance and control our phones have over our lives.
What are some ideas you have for setting boundaries on your phone usage? I’ve love to hear some more of your tips and tricks! After all, I’m just a wannabe minimalist, and I need all the help I can get 🙂