A Digital World Resting at the Palm of our Hands
As a human being living in the 21st century, I too have grown too attached to my smartphone. In fact, I already consider it as an extra limb because it can never leave my hand. I use my phone from the moment I wake up in the morning to the last few seconds before I shut my eyes to sleep. Our technology has come so far that this device that we can fit at the palm of our hand can almost do anything, whatever it is we may need at the moment.
Given the pandemic where a deadly virus keeps us locked inside our own homes, our lives have completely shifted into a digital setting. Technology allows the world to continue going and for us to continue going through our days. Everybody’s working from home or going through online classes via zoom calls. We keep connected with other people on social media through the pictures and videos we share and the comments and likes we leave on our friends’ posts. We buy our groceries, essentials, and food online and wait for them to be delivered right on our doors. Even dating and meeting new people, all happen online now with dating apps and social community groups. As easy and convenient as all of these may sound right now, I’m sure a lot of us would still prefer the freedom of going outside again and the comfort of the company of other people.
Bu what’s wrong?
I’m thankful for the internet, smartphones, and technology in general, but there are times when I just wanna shut everything off. Recently I’ve noticed how I waste so much time in a day, scrolling through my phone and shifting through apps, but there’s actually nothing in there for me to do. Like, the more time I spend with my phone on my face, the less I feel good mentally. The notifications we do or do not receive, how good of a picture or story we post, the number of likes or reactions we get, or even the endless array of funny TikTok videos? None of them matter. We’ll soon forget them after the next second. Imagine a life when the most excitement you can get is because of a notification from your phone. It’s sad and very unfulfilling.
I’m the type of person that if he sees something wrong, he’ll try to fix it. If I notice a certain stimulus in my environment or routine that affects me negatively, I immediately think of remedies or ways on how I could improve my life with or without it. At work, I keep an eye for process improvements because I believe that you can always do things better. There are always ways that things can be done easier. I’m going to try applying that same mindset for this particular blog.
I am addicted to my phone like any other person living in this digital age. Now if spending so much time on my phone is bad for my mental health, I’d need to come up with ways on how I can condition myself to lessen my attachment to it. The goal here is not to get rid of the device but to use it only out of necessity instead of dependency. Maybe these simple tricks could also help you if you’re also going through the same mental and emotional fatigue from the digital world.
6 Simple Tricks on How to Spend Less Time on Your Phone
1. Shut off your phone’s notifications
You don’t need to keep your tabs on everything. You don’t need to be informed of every single like your social media posts receive. You don’t need to be bombarded with promos apps offer to persuade you to swipe your credit card at check-out again. Close the door and don’t let these notifications pass through and be displayed on your lock screen.
Simply, go to your phone’s App settings and switch off the notifications of apps you don’t necessarily need. I’ve had notification alerts from all apps on my phone shut off for over a year now and it has given me some peace. There’s less noise and clutter that I have to go through. If I want to be aware of important news or notifications, I could still do that when I finally chose to open the app for the day. The point is I have control and the apps aren’t telling me what to do. The only notifications I do allow are from chats or messages. If you do not message me, and then it must not be important or time-critical.
2. Utilize Screen Time or Limit your Time on Social Media or Certain Apps
Screen Time is an app on Apple iOS that allows you to set a time limit for how much time you spend on certain apps. Android phones also have their own versions of this that you may utilize as well. The way this option works is if you’ve reached your declared limit for the day, you’ll be locked out of the apps and you won’t be able to use them for the rest of the day.
I’ve been using the Screen Time feature on my phone for over a year now and it has significantly reduced my time spent on social media apps that I personally find toxic. I set only a total of 30 minutes on social media apps for the day and try to only use the apps for blog work like promoting content for the week and engaging with you guys. But since the pandemic where there is basically nothing to do while locked inside my room, I just keep typing in my Screen Time Password and asking for extension after extension every time I reach my time limit for the day. I keep coming back to those toxic apps and allow them to waste my time. I know it’s bad so that’s why I’m choosing a different route now.
3. Replace your phone with actual items
We have numerous apps on our phones that can do whatever it is we need at any time of day. If we wanted to watch a series, we’d open Netflix. Want to read a book? There are ebooks on your phone you can read day or night. Wanna go shopping? The best deals are on online shopping apps with great discounts and even free shipping! It’s too convenient and we don’t even have to get out of bed. But try to imagine that we live in the year 2000, where our phones’ only purpose was for calling and texting. We use actual items or tools around the household to help us through our every day. We have to get out of bed and actually move about.
In my case, I recently bought an alarm clock so that I don’t have to touch my phone right when I start my day. I also found that watching movies and series is actually better on a tv far away from you. You can focus and enjoy what you’re watching without aimlessly scrolling through social media at the same time. But for everything else that I need the internet for, I simply do everything on my laptop like reading blog articles, checking my emails, or listening to music. You don’t have to do everything on your phone just because you can. Try and move a muscle.
4. Hide your phone in a drawer, but leave the ringer on
You have to physically detach yourself from your phone. You have the power to leave it and walk away. Convince yourself that you don’t need it and that you could go on your day without it. I’ve actually noticed how most of the time, I use my phone as a fidget toy like I would turn it on and scroll through the apps and turn it off again. I would do this repeatedly like some sort of reflex. To remedy this, I actually use a pop-it fidget phone case. Whenever I find myself reaching out for my phone for no reason, I just grab the pop it and start popping away. It’s actually more satisfying than scrolling through empty apps on my phone.
Also, I am a strong believer of out of sight, out of mind. If something is not in your line of vision, it is easier to forget about it. So remove the item or hide it in a place where you can’t see it so you could focus more on what you’re doing at the moment. I keep my phone inside my drawer for most of the day. I do make sure that it’s not on silent mode so that if important messages come in, I’ll be able to hear them.
5. Practice mindfullness
Another habit that we picked up because of smartphones is multi-tasking. There are too many applications or tabs running at the same time that we now find it difficult to focus on just one thing. We quickly consume information and are always looking for more, more, more. Our eyes are glued to our screens, and would rather look down than look up to the eyes of the people talking to us. We have been consumed by the digital world that we are barely living in the real one.
Let’s try to be in the present and focus on what’s in front of us. Let’s remove ourselves from the digital world and find ourselves back into the physical world. Let us be aware of all of the things happening around us and breathe in each minute that is passing by. Take things slower and be grateful for the things that you have now. Mindfulness or truly being in the moment takes practice. You can start by doing a couple of breathing exercises. Take a couple of pauses throughout your day and just try to experience the moment with all of your 5 senses.
6. Find things that you actually enjoy doing and do them
What were the hobbies that you had that you seem to no longer do because of all of the time you spend online? Find your passion again and let yourself enjoy doing them without the help of your smartphone or social media. This is a form of self-care that you shouldn’t feel guilty about setting some time for. Fuel your interests and try to hone your skills without any pressure or expectations.
For one, I’ve gotten back into reading because I’m too restless to sit through a movie or series episode. I used to only read ebooks on my phone, but I’ve recently started to read the mountain of physical books that have only collected dust over the years. Yes, I have to use a lamp when I read at night, but at least I would have less of an impulse switching to social media apps. Hopefully, I’ll get to finish more and more books now. I’ve also bought a Nintendo Switch that I haven’t touched for months since I’ve bought it. I wouldn’t like to think of it as a regrettable purchase so I’m going to try and enjoy it. I am still convinced that I am not a gamer, but we can give it a couple more tries. I also try not to use my phone for anything work-related. I would rather whip out my laptop so I would have to get out of bed and force myself to sit and focus.
What go through all of this trouble?
The point of spending less time on my phone is not so I could have more time to be productive really. I just don’t want to keep spending the free time that I have in a day in my phone for hours doing nothing and letting myself feel like absolute crap. Like we are allowed to waste time and do whatever the hell we want. I just want my mind to be in a better state and I think I could do that by removing it from the muddy waters it submerges into when using a smartphone extensively.
I am not against smartphones because they are still a need, especially during this time. I’m just gaining more control of my life and prioritizing my mental health. I will just be using my phone more as a last resort to help me do what I need to do, instead of being dependent on it to occupy my entire day. I do have a life outside my phone and I should spend more time there. I can’t wait for the day when the pandemic is finally over though! I wish to be free once again to go outside and live in the real world. I want to be with my friends again, catch up and enjoy our lives together, pretending our phones don’t exist at all.
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