Wake up. Push the home button on the phone to see the time. Lie in bed and scroll through social networks before getting up. Shower and dress. Check phone again during breakfast. Drive to work. Put phone on desk. Check every 30 minutes for new texts or emails. Call someone during drive home. Keep phone close by at all times, responding to messages just as they arrive. Turn on TV. Pick up phone during commercial – play a game or check social networks. Get ready for bed. Look at phone while brushing teeth. Plug phone in to charge on bedside table. Sleep. Repeat.
This pattern that I follow is not one that I am particularly proud of. It’s also not one that my family is too fond of, either. I catch myself all the time saying “Huh?” and asking my husband to repeat himself. Or I don’t even know he’s talking and he’ll say, “Did you hear me?” Yikes. That’s not good. Many times, the kids want to play, and I brush them off because I’m looking up something or answering some text. When I think about it, I want to smack myself! I know that when I am sitting at my child’s high school graduation, I will not wish that I had answered a text more promptly. I will wish that I had played legos or catch more often.
All right. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Check! The second step is finding solutions. I don’t think my smart phone tendencies are quite at the level of addiction, but they definitely fall under the category of a bad habit. So I did some searching on ways to change bad habits – specifically in regards to smart phones. Here are a few tips that have helped me to be more aware of my phone faux pas.
- Delete applications that are your go-to time suckers. You can still access Facebook and Twitter from the browser if you want, but deleting the application forces you to go an extra step to get there. This alone can be enough of a reminder that you are trying to break a bad habit to stop you from reaching for the phone.
- Keep your phone plugged in somewhere other than your bedroom. Lots of studies have shown that looking at a screen just before bed or first thing in the morning is not great for you. I know that many people hesitate to do this because their phones serve as alarm clocks, but don’t let that stop you from making a change. Alarm clocks are cheap and can be purchased pretty much anywhere.
- Tell friends and family that you are trying to cut back on phone time. This accountability will help you not to feel guilty when you don’t answer someone right away. People who care about you will understand and want to support you.
- Leave it at home. This is hard for me to even imagine sometimes. But when I am going out with my family, my husband will have his phone, so anyone who needs me for an emergency will surely call him. Really, what’s so important that it can’t wait a few hours?
- Turn it off. If leaving the phone at home is too much (or if you are going out alone), you can always turn it off for a bit. Let your family members know that you are going to have your phone off at dinner with a friend. They could call the restaurant if they really need you. After all, there was a time before cell phones, and we all survived it just fine.