“Well we really do spend most of our time on our phones. I personally would have to strike a balance.”Comment left by a reader of last week’s post
The birth of the smartphone changed the way we live. Prior to that, cellphones were just miniature telephones. You could use one to send text messages and some of them came with pre-installed games but their primary function was to make calls.
As technology advanced, the cellphone became capable of much more than making calls. The birth of social media and mobile applications turned smartphones into the equivalent of a playground or office you could carry in your pocket. Eventually, the smartphone replaced the pocket calculator, camera, calendar, post office and even the banking hall.
Swipe left or right from your phone’s home screen and you will be inundated with options. Each tile an app for a unique function. According to internet trends, the average smartphone owner unlocks their phone 150 times a day. Even if you are spending just 3 minutes each time you unlock your phone, that’s 450 minutes (or 7 and a half hours) of phone use each day. That’s a third of the day gone to social media and games. For most people, that will be a poor contribution to their daily productivity.
It takes a great deal of willpower to resist the urge to sneak a peek at your phone whenever it vibrates. Reality in Motion (formerly Blackberry) built a sensation over a blinking red light. Just the sight of that light creates an urge to reach out for your phone regardless what you are doing. Responding to a message meant the light will go off and you can get a feel good sensation until the next message comes in. Now the flashing lights have been replaced by loud sounds and customisable incoming message alerts but the principle still remains the same.
I am not going to take the extreme opinion that you should stop using social media or playing games on your phone. It’s not possible for most people and there are plenty of productive uses of social media. Many small business owners use whatsapp for business and facebook pages to interact with their clients. I use social media to promote my blog. Relaxation is also a part of being productive. If playing candy crush during your downtime helps you relax don’t give it up.
My take on the matter is you need to be intentional about when and how you use your cellphone.
- Resist the urge to check social media first thing in the morning (unless you are managing the social media account of a company.)
- Put your phone on flight mode when carrying out deep focus tasks.
- Put your phone on silent during meetings and when you go out with people. You will have more fruitful interactions without the urge to respond to every message that comes your way.
- Play games on your phone during your spare time.
- Before you unlock your phone, ask yourself is this what I should be doing right now.
If you have other tips, please feel free to share them in the comment section.