Raise your hand if any of the following examples sound familiar. When the alarm goes off in the morning, you pick up your smartphone to see if any texts have come in overnight. Or, when you’re standing in line at the grocery store, you try to catch up with a few emails. Even when Mother Nature is at her best with an amazing rainbow or sunset, your first thought is to capture the moment on Instagram.
If your hand is in the air (and your smartphone in the other), it might be time to examine your relationship with your phone. If you are ready to use it more intentionally and deliberately rather than out of force of habit, the following tips can help you to do just that.
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Keep It Out of Sight
A great way to reduce your digital distraction is to keep your smartphone in another room or hidden place for a good portion of the day. When you’re trying to finish a project for work, put your phone in your backpack or purse, and when you’re painting the guest bedroom, keep your smartphone out in the kitchen where you won’t be tempted to check your texts.
Ironically, you can use your smartphone to help you reduce your smartphone use — start by downloading the Forest app from the iTunes store. The app allows you to 'plant a seed' that will gradually flourish and grow into a tree if you leave your phone alone.
Create Rules for Yourself
If you have kids, you probably have rules that dictate how much screen time they can have. Now it’s time to do the same for yourself. Come up with a list of times and places when using your phone is absolutely forbidden and stick with it. For example, when you’re at dinner with friends or family, out walking or hiking, cozied up on the couch watching a movie, or when you wake up in the middle of the night. As a bonus, you will be such a great role model, your kids will certainly notice that you’re following your own smartphone rules and they may be inspired to do the same.
Invest in a Phone That Features Great Connectivity
For those moments when you want to quickly connect with a friend or share a live stream event with your family, your smartphone should cooperate and allow you to do so easily and unobtrusively. In order to use your smartphone time as effortlessly as possible, consider upgrading to one of the newest models. For example, the iPhone 8 features LTE Advanced and Wi-Fi calling, as well as a 12MP camera and 7MP FaceTime HD Camera. Thanks to its fast and reliable connectivity, the days of wasting time searching for a signal will be over. You can whip out your smartphone while relaxing on the beach, send out a 60-second live stream to your folks showing them the awesome waves and blue sky, and then put the phone away and get back to living in the moment.
Create Smartphone-Free Zones at Home
Another way to cut down on your constant smartphone use is to ban it from certain rooms in your home. The bedroom is an ideal place to go cold turkey with your phone. Ideally, your room should be a sanctuary where you rest and relax, not obsessively check emails or text your BFF when you should be sleeping. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, spring for a good old-fashioned AM/FM clock instead and keep your smartphone on the charger in the family room overnight. If you’re used to waking up with music playing on your smartphone, you can set the alarm to your favorite local station and wake up with the help of some lively tunes.
Smartphones are definitely handy little devices. They just don’t need to be in our hands all of the time. By keeping it out of sight and unused at certain times of the day, and making sure that your phone has a great signal for when you do need to use it, you can cut back on your constant cell phone use and get back to living life in the moment.
Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 18 years. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Alison thoroughly enjoys writing about a wide variety of people and topics. When she is not writing, Alison can be found hanging out with her family—which includes three wonderful rescue dogs—and sipping a caffeinated beverage from Starbucks.