If you’re like most people, there’s a good chance you own a smartphone. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’re reading this article on one right now. How do I know this? Well, it’s not because I’m psychic. It’s because a survey conducted by the highly regarded Pew Research Center revealed that nearly 77% of all Americans own some type of smart device.
While the proliferation of wireless phones has helped us to remain more connected, there’s an argument to be made that perhaps we’ve become too connected. Given how the smartphone has woven itself into the fabric of daily life, is there any way to strike a balance? The answer is yes, but it will require that you set up strong boundaries.
Here are five tips for improving your relationship with your smartphone:
1. Create awareness around usage
The first step in establishing a healthier relationship with your smartphone is to create awareness around usage. An effective way to do this is to ask yourself the following: Do I need to check this right now?
The answer may very well be yes. But in most situations it will probably be no. The hard truth is most of us have become addicted to our smartphone like crack cocaine.
And I’m not just making that up. Recent scientific research suggests that too many of us have become dependent on our smartphone in much the same way addicts become hooked on substances. This leads to a condition called phoneliness.
By creating awareness around how much you interact with your device, you’ll be in a stronger position to enact healthy boundaries.
2. Make your bedroom a phone-free zone
Your bedroom (and particularly your bed) should be thought of as a sacred place for renewal. But each time you bring your smartphone with you into this space, you inject toxicity into the environment.
Now think about this for a minute and it will make sense. When you place your smartphone on your nightstand, you are inviting your boss, family, friends and co-workers into your bed with you. Do you really want these people there?
Ideally your bedroom should be a place for sleeping and sex. Do yourself a favor and banish your phone to some other location.
3. Create a nightly interaction time
One of the most rewarding things about the smartphone is its ability to let us interact with others. But without boundaries this benefit can morph into the unhealthy.
I’m talking about time-wasting activities like spending hours on social media when your goal was to work on a task like attending to your monthly bills or cleaning the bathroom.
One healthy option is to schedule a nightly time slot dedicated to smartphone use. An example might be deciding to jump onto your device from 7–8 p.m. Once that hour is up your phone gets turned off.
4. Turn it off for certain events
Nowadays it’s a good idea to have your phone with you when out and about. There’s something to be said about knowing you can call for help should an emergency arise. That said, just because you have your phone with you doesn’t mean it must be on. Make sense?
Power down your phone when you are on a date or during family events, and during activities like hiking or visiting an art gallery.
5. Consider a social media detox
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be excellent conduits of communication. They allow you to learn what’s going on in the world and sound off on issues you care about. But they can also become horribly addictive, acting like time sponges that soak up hours of daily life.
Rather than doing something drastic, like deleting your social media accounts, a more realistic solution might be to go on a social media detox.
To accomplish this, simply decide on a period of time when you’ll take a break from apps like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the like. The amount of time is up to you.
Whatever you decide, it helps to let people know you’re taking time away. Once the break begins, remove the apps from your phone. Remember, you can always reinstall upon return.
What are some ways you have built healthy boundaries around your smartphone? Please share in the comments.