By: Wil Fulton
The average smartphone user checks their phone a whopping 110 times a day. This thought echoed through my mind as I was eating breakfast in my apartment the other morning, the smooth sounds of Lionel Richie permeating the air, my trusty phone in hand. I was texting, sipping my one percent milk, eating, talking to my girlfriend, and listening to "All Night Long" simultaneously -- like a goddamn circus juggler -- when disaster struck: my hand slipped, dropping my treasured phone right into my half-full glass.
This had to be a sign. My excessive iPhone use was becoming a problem I needed to solve. I began my quest for knowledge to rid myself of this seemingly out of control addiction, and what I found are these important, everyday tips to help kick the Cupertino Crack™. Hopefully, this list helps you as much as it has helped me.
1. Never use your phone as your alarm clock
We all know how it goes: once you're done dealing your standard wave of 20 snoozes, you flick off the alarm, and go straight to browsing: Instagram, email, videos of baby elephants -- you've already bogged yourself down with a tech overload before your feet hit the floor. If you want to distance yourself from your tech in a meaningful way, you need to nip the problem in the drowsy bud. And since so many of us literally wake up with our phone in our hands, this is the first place to start cutting back.
2. Stop checking your emails before work
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous submission--and it's admittedly a doozy. I am as guilty of this as anyone, as I immediately check my email when I get out of bed (even before I get out of bed, in most cases). But honestly, after trying this out for a few days, I noticed nothing had changed at all. I got to my morning emails, what--an hour and a half later? Unless you're the CEO of your company or a neurosurgeon on call, you can probably afford to wait till 9am to get back to someone. In fact, some countries have made off-hour work emails a criminal offense. Seriously.
3. Remove those excess apps
Having instant 'round the clock access to Facebook is as superfluous as a nipple on my elbow. As a wise man on the Internet once said, Facebook is like the fridge--you check it every 15 minutes, even though you know nothing's there. By eliminating time-wasters and attention suckers, you can rid yourself of the urge to draw your smartphone from your pocket every three minutes out of pure impulse.
4. Actually, don't bring your phone into the bedroom at all
If you're having trouble keeping your paws off your screens in the AM, start by cutting yourself off at night. Leaving your phone out of the boudoir not only gives you another clearly defined tech-free time/zone, it makes sure the unnatural light doesn't mess with your circadian rhythm, leading to better sleep. Keep your bedroom a sanctuary. After all, it is where the magic happens (according to MTV Cribs, which would never lie to me).
5. Turn off (or customize) notifications
You don't need an obtrusive bleep or buzz every time your bar mitzvah #TBT gets some love. It only makes you more apt to whip out your phone and get nose-deep in a vicious tech circle of texting, email checking, and lord knows what else. You can disable in-app notifications in your main settings menu (under the App section), or customize them for only the important stuff. As far as calls and texts go, one viable solution I've been using is setting custom vibrations for certain people. So, I can tell if it's someone important (like my girlfriend, or the neighborhood dog catcher) without taking my phone out of my pocket. You can make your own custom vibes by selecting a contact, then the "Vibration" option, underneath "Ringtone."
6. Airplane mode will set you free
This is another answer for people too scared to leave their phones behind completely. Basically, you'll be left with just a combination clock/camera. If you really want to focus on a task at hand, or just need to make sure no one bothers you for an extended period, just switch on airplane mode, and let it ride. Try doing this while you're driving, in social situations, or watching TV, and gradually extend your "Airplane time" to other activities. It's all about conditioning yourself to a life less cluttered with phone time, and Airplane mode is an excellent stepping stone on your way to mindfulness.
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