In our modern culture, it is safe to say that most of us are addicted to our phones. Visit a local restaurant at any time of the day. Chances are high that you will notice that at least half of the people in the restaurant have their heads down and are looking intently, phone in one hand and scrolling with the other. Social media and data bundles have made each one of us more accessible than we’ve ever been. But what effect does this addiction to phones have on our health? Cell phone addiction has been linked with mental health issues including depression and anxiety.
It has been linked with car accidents because people were paying attention to their phones instead of the road. Cell phone addiction is even linked to sleep problems. For many workers, cell phone addiction is an impediment to productivity. Cell phone addiction is a real thing and it is not just teenagers who are experiencing it. Everyday adults in the workplace are experiencing it too. And it is likely costing employers millions of dollars in productive time each year.
So how do you break the addiction? How do you restore a healthy relationship with your phone without the negativity of it all? In this post, we will share three suggestions on how to do just that.
Figure out the triggers and replace the response
Cell phone addiction is a habit that can be replaced. If you think of it this way, it becomes easier to break the habit because you will be replacing it with another habit. For instance, have you ever thought of the triggers that make you check your phone?
Perhaps you are bored at work. Perhaps you have your notifications on so that every time someone updates their Facebook status you get a “ding” on your phone. Maybe you are finding it hard to concentrate because you’ve hit a snag in your project and you need something to occupy your mind.
These are all specific triggers that make you check your phone. Once you are able to pinpoint what those triggers are for you, you can replace your automatic response to reach for your cell phone with a new habit.
And so, for instance, if you feel bored at work, instead of checking your phone, you could make the decision to get up from your seat and go on a 10-minute walk to regain your drive and focus. Not only will this help you break the addiction; you might realize that over the course of the day, those 10 minute walks add up and you would have also gain a health benefit as a result!
Bottomline: figure out what the triggers are for checking your phone obsessively. Instead of checking your phone in response to those triggers, replace it with a brand new habit.
Out of sight really can mean out of mind
Trying to replace your phone habit with another one but failing? Try putting your phone away during those periods when you want to be productive. An example of this could be that you make it a point to turn off your phone at the beginning of your work day.
It could mean deleting the apps that you are most likely to check throughout your day. During your lunch break, you could reward yourself by turning it back on or re-installing the app so you can enjoy it during that time. And then again, after lunch, when it is time to work, you turn it off again. If you wanted to get a little extreme with it, here is another suggestion: turn it off, take out the battery and place the battery in a locker that is situated away from your desk.
In order to use the phone, you would have to walk to the locker, get the battery out and put it back into the phone.
You are employing a few tricks here.
- In the first example, you are removing the phone from your “sight” by turning it off and or uninstalling apps that consistently draw you to your phone.
- In the second example, you are making it harder to access your phone because you added a few more steps. Those extra steps tell your brain that it is “too complex” for you to use your phone at that particular time.
Old psychological studies like the one the famous Pavlov conducted with dogs, shows us that rewards condition us and make us more likely to keep up with a habit. Were you able to go three hours without checking your phone? Create a fund where you transfer $5 (or an amount of your choice) each time you are able to keep the streak up.
After you have done this continuously a week, seeing that chunk of money sitting there as your reward for staying off your phone will motivate you to keep going.
You don’t have to use this specific example for a reward, but you get the point. Rewarding yourself is a powerful way to keep up the good work of breaking your cell phone addiction while greatly increasing your productivity.
Cell phone addiction is real and there are many documented adverse consequences. Thankfully, like most addictions, it can be broken if you employ the right strategies.