As we once again find ourselves immersed in holiday celebrations and approaching the blank slate of a new year, fresh resolutions are emerging in conversations about lifestyle improvements. Alongside the new gym memberships and healthy meal plans, people are declaring their intention to undergo a digital detox – that is, powering down their smartphones and spending more time away from tiny screens.
Pew research indicates approximately 77 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone, and recent findings from Statista suggest the average smartphone owner checks their device around 47 times per day. Further, nearly half of all users have tried to limit their phone usage, but only 30 percent were able to do so successfully. Of course, smartphone usage varies based on age, race, and geographical location, but among the many people with a smart device at their disposal, it is clear that awareness around digital dependence is growing.
Unfortunately, awareness and actually making the first move to limit our connectedness are two different things. After all, most people with a smartphone justify their usage by saying they need it for business or school, to get their news, and to stay in touch with friends and family, which are all necessities. But, these people likely don’t realize just how much time and focus these “necessities” take away from everything else.
In pursuit of a solution, smartphone companies have started sharing daily and weekly usage reports with consumers and offer controls that limit functionality and alerts for specific periods to discourage prolonged scrolling sessions. Even so, it’s hard to step away from hyper-connectivity when that sleek little portal to the rest of the world glows and vibrates quietly on the coffee table.
While there’s no way to keep from reaching for a smartphone without getting rid of it entirely, small changes can limit dependence and make a big difference. Some suggestions below.
Give activities, tasks, or hobbies your undivided attention
Multitasking doesn’t mean you’re effectively completing several tasks at once; it means you’re doing multiple things at the same time with less effort and attention than they deserve. When engaging in an activity, give it your undivided attention and don’t let your phone, social media, or work email distract you from the task at hand. The ability to commit 100 percent of your focus to an activity will inevitably help reduce your smartphone usage because most of life is taking place in the real world, not in an app.
Rest your mind like you rest your body
Toiling away in front of a screen for hours on end has become the norm for most adults today, but just as our bodies need rest after a workout, our minds need a break from marathon screen sessions. The brain can hold focus for only 60 – 90 minutes at a time, which means it’s time to take more steps away from the laptop or tablet to allow for a calming reset. In other words, leave the smartphone behind when you go for a walk or catch up with your office mate.
Keep your digital doses light
You know that subtle ache that starts behind the eyes, then intensifies as it wraps around the back of your head and flows to the base of your skull? The one that you can’t seem to avoid when you’ve spent all day in front of a computer? That’s your body saying “No more screens, thank you. I’ve had enough.” We’ve been trained to ignore these signals, but for those looking to limit their digital exposure, it’s time to start paying attention. Whether you’re wrapping up a proposal for a new client or bingeing the latest Netflix show, be mindful of the amount of time you’ve spent at the screen and how it’s made you feel.
Consider a companion phone
While adding another phone to your digital portfolio may seem counterintuitive, a smart feature phone can be a good solution. Instead of having to consider which notifications to mute, and which apps to ignore with iron willpower, you leave your smartphone at home and grab your companion device when you head out the door in the evening.
Such a phone can be loaded with just the essential apps you need, and none of the distracting and irrelevant ones you don’t need when you meet friends in the evening or spend time with family on the weekend. Several KaiOS devices will be able to fulfill this role perfectly in 2019 as more and more apps arrive in the KaiStore.
The simple act of being more mindful of your mobile usage can help bring about positive change in all aspects of your life, and these tips can help guide you in the right direction in 2019. Happy new year!