Spending Less Time with Your Phone and Why It Matters

These days, our phones tell us everything.  We can see what everyone’s having for lunch via Instagram, check the news and the weather, map our bike rides, reserve parking, order coffee, transfer money, lock the door, turn on the lights, turn off the coffeepot .. you get the idea.  Hey, we can even make a phone call!

Mobile phone addiction is practically built in.  You may have an idea sometimes that you are spending too much time on your device.  Maybe the third time you have to charge it each day is a clue.  So what?  Is a digital detox the answer?  Sweat it out and break the cycle?  Sure, that’s one way – likely to lead to a social media binge trying to catch up on everything.  There has to be some comfortable middle ground, right?

They say knowledge is power. A good place to start to see where you’re spending your time is right in the settings on your iPhone.  Go to Settings >Battery and scroll down to where it displays the usage.  Right at the top you’ll see what your phone is working hardest at.  Sometimes that’s all you need – knowledge.  If you’re a will-powered person, you can apply it simply by consciously decreasing the time you spend on those top activities.

What if there’s no clear leader? What if your display uses the most battery?  Well, that means your phone is on, it’s just not powering a specific app most of the time.  In this case, try adjusting your notifications settings.  You can adjust each app individually by going to Settings >Notifications and clicking on each one to customize the type and frequency of notifications.  An easy tweak to your Do Not Disturb configuration.  You can schedule times where your phone is quiet or customize the behavior whenever you choose the feature (the crescent moon shaped icon in your control center – a swipe up from the bottom on iPhones – is your Do Not Disturb switch).

One super fix is to turn off your Background App Refresh.  This will not only save your battery, but will reduce your notifications as well.  Disabling the background refresh will also help you set aside a clear time to check important apps, like mail.  (If you’re into serious organizing of your mail, check out this boss tip.)  You can also make adjustments in other apps.  FaceBook allows you to put your friends in “lists” so you can see just the updates of people in that category.  Read this helpful tutorial to find out how to set that up.

There is also the issue of perception.  How many times do you open your phone each day?  60 – 100?  More?  What’s measured, improves, as they say.  There aren’t a lot of apps for iOS that track usage.  We found one that seems hopeful called RealizD.  It tracks: screen time, pickups, time between pickups, times of day pickups occur, tells you your busiest day of the week and allows you to set goals for yourself (then reminds you when you’re getting close).  It’s a free app, with options to pay for “family tracking” and some other advanced features.  For getting a reality check, the free version works just fine.

So, why is it important to have this information?  If everyone else is hunched over their phones, who cares if you are too?  Well, it matters.  As my gramma used to say “Because. That’s why.”  Even if you haven’t walked into a lamp post yet, you’re still missing out.  You can’t smell a cool spring breeze, pet your dog or feel the sun on your face through your phone.  Even though Siri can tell you a joke, or get you directions or remember your mom’s birthday, she is not your friend.

Spending less time on your phone hopefully translates to spending more time doing the things you used to just monitor.  Meet up with friends (or at least talk instead of read updates).  Your phone is a tool.  An amazing, useful, helpful tool and that’s all.  Learn how to use it to make your life more full by making it work for you.  And every so often, turn it off (or at least, let it rest).

 

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