This blog is for when you realise that using your phone to keep your life ticking over has become a way of escaping from it. Here are 5 steps to regain the balance.
1. Start by working out how much time you are spending on your phone each day, keep a simple log of when and how long you spend checking, searching, browsing. Maybe you’ll be surprised/shocked at how much time your phone sucks up, if you are, you can use this as motivation to make a change.
2. Once you have kept a ‘time spent’ log for a few days, start to look for patterns, when are you more likely to get ‘lost’ in your phone? How are you feeling when you ‘lose’ time in this way? All our behaviour makes sense if we look at the context. We are not over using our phones for no reason, or because we are ‘that way inclined’, there will be a reason. Most commonly people jump on their phones to change their mood, whether it is boredom, sadness, loneliness, anxiety. Our phones provide a very comprehensive way of escaping from life when life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
3. Next work out exactly what you use your phone for and put these things into categories:
(i) Necessary to live my life (e.g. banking, online grocery shopping, checking emails)
(ii) Necessary to stay connected (Instagram, Facebook)
(iii) Necessary to relax (games, apps, YouTube)
(iv) Not necessary
Now, have a tidy up. Try and transfer as many of your phone activities to a less readily accessible device (e.g. PC), set a time when you will do these activities, stick to it and delete the relevant apps from your phone. Set a separate time for those things that fall under category (i) (ii) and (iii) and don’t engage with these things outside of these times. Turn off as many notifications as is realistic to reduce the temptation to bend these boundaries. Delete anything from your phone that is in the ‘not necessary’ category.
4. Don’t use your phone until you have been up for at least 30 mins and if you can do this, increase this time period. Do something similar at night, aiming eventually to stay off your phone for at least 2 hours before bed, as the blue light emitted from your phone disrupts your sleep hormones affecting your ability to fall asleep.
5. Finally, each time your reach for your phone, before you unlock it, take a deep breath and ask yourself what you are about to do and why. Make it a conscious choice to use your phone and be honest with yourself about why you are using it. If it is to escape a problem, even if you aren’t able to deal with that problem right now, acknowledge that at some point, you will need to play the longer game and address this.