By Naomi Webb
How many times do you check your smartphone during the day? Probably a lot more than you think! As a nation we have become addicted to our smartphones, constantly scrolling through our Facebook and Twitter feeds, sending Whatsapp’s to countless group messages and updating our Instagram pages with well-filtered photos.
The findings of a recent study by British psychologists found that the time we spend checking our phones adds up to, on average, one third of our waking hour – which is roughly five times each and every hour.
Just imagine what you could actually be doing with the time you spend looking at a screen. Is it perhaps time to put the phone down? Well, this might sound easier said than done, because checking our phone becomes a habit and we all know habits are hard to break.
But, if you think you’re ready for less screen time and more me time then here are a few tips to help you to put the phone down and start living in the real world, instead of a virtual one.
Turn off notifications
Every single time your phone pings with a notification you pick it up to see what it is, and this can then turn into 10, 20, 30 minutes of browsing the web and social media. So, by disabling all unnecessary notifications and/or putting your phone on silent, so you don’t hear them each time, you should be less inclined to keep picking it up.
Plan phone free periods every day
You must have periods during the day where you don’t use your phone – during dinner, in the bath, whilst watching a movie or reading a book/magazine. It is easy to multi-task and do these things whilst scrolling through your phone – but this is where you can actually enjoy some real ‘me time’, so make sure these activities are done without your phone in hand.
Why not plan a romantic meal once a week with your partner where you sit and actually talk to each other, instead of watching TV and looking at your phone screen at the same time? Or you could sign up for a magazine subscription, so when it lands on the doorstep each month you can run a bath, turn the phone off and catch up on interesting features while you soak in the bubbles.
Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock
One of the main reasons we spend so much time on our phones these days is because they do everything for us. They are our camera, music player, calculator, source of knowledge and alarm clock. But, although these are handy features, the last one in particular is one you should definitely avoid using.
Using your phone before bed is actually bad for your health and can disrupt your sleep – but when it is set for 7am on the bedside table there will be a temptation to pick it up. So, when you go to bed leave your phone in the other room, buy yourself a good old fashioned alarm clock and read a book to relax you into sleep.
Scare yourself with some stats
There are apps such as Moment for iOS and QualityTime for Android – that will tell you how much time you spent each day on your mobile phone. When you are heading to bed moaning that you haven’t had enough time to get everything done you wanted to that day and then see that you spent 3 hours looking at your phone screen, it might just be the wake up call you need to put the phone down and spend that time far more wisely.
The more you make a conscious effort to stop staring at the screen, the less you will want to!
Naomi Webb is a freelance writer specialising in family lifestyle content, providing good health and fitness and travel tips for a wide range of audiences.