“Ding, buzz, beep”
Do you hear such sounds when your brain is trying hard to focus on a task? Even though you know how much smartphones distract you, you still struggle to get over the temptation of a smartphone. You want to get over the urge to check your smartphone every now but haven’t been successful so far.
In this article, you will learn the reasons why are we so addicted to our phones. You use also learn easy methods to reduce your smartphone addiction.
Are you glued to your phone all the time? Do you have to peek into your smartphone for no reason every now and then? When you phone beeps, do you feel the urge to quickly check what was the notification for? Have you wondered if you have a phone addiction?
Leave a comment on what you think is your daily usage of your phone in hours. As a side activity, you can also calculate how much time in your life will you spend on a phone totally.
This article is Step 10: Overcome your phone addiction to increase results by 7x, the final step of phase 1 of the 3 phase transformation into superhuman productivity. You can begin right from step 1 by accessing the index here – 3 Phase Transformation into Living Your Dreams.
To understand the purpose behind the activity I recommend you to read through the article. But, for the busy bees, you can go directly to the exercise.
- How smartphones have changed the world: The Good and the Bad
- The cause of cell phone addiction: The notification buzz or the ding
- How to cure phone addiction?
- The exercise to be on DND:
How smartphones have changed the world: The Good and the Bad
Smartphones have been the new electricity for the change caused. We have thousands of apps that serve different purposes.
When you remember your friend, you pull your phone out and drop a text. If you need a new TV you can have it at your doorstep with only a few taps. If you remember an important email to reply to, you can do so while you are at the shopping mall.
Smartphones have helped people do things which were impossible a decade ago. However, as with any technology, it comes with a cost. Phones have their own cons which many do not realize or agree with.
Smartphones are undoubtedly the biggest killers of productivity and focus. People end up spending hours on apps that add no value. The phone has now become as necessary as clothes where people feel uncomfortable without one. When the battery shows below 5% with no access to a charger, a chill runs down the spine of many and a feel a jolt in your body.
In most cases, charging the phone after 2 hours has no impact whatsoever.
The cause of cell phone addiction: The notification buzz or the ding
How many times are you distracted by an unnecessary notification on your smartphone? Probably a lot more times than you have realized.
You can calculate how much time you spend on your smartphone on an average by taking up this activity to stop wasting time.
The way smartphones have created an addiction is by the buzz or the ding that sounds for every notification. People crave it and have to peek into their phones.
In most cases, your bank has a better credit card for you or a group message that today is the day when the earth, Jupiter and the center of milky way galaxy are aligned in a straight line. Yet, you feel the need to check your phone immediately.
Can you recall when you heard your phone buzz in a distance and for some reason, you were unable to check what it was? Do you remember how you felt? Didn’t you feel a certain level of uneasiness? You felt relaxed only after you checked your phone.
Do you feel the need to check your text messages while driving? Many people do. Even if the text is as unimportant as “what are your plans for the weekend”, some people even feel the need to reply immediately. Why hurry when the weekend is days away and the instant reply makes no difference to the plans?
Research says texting while driving is equivalent to driving under influence, if not worse. The amount of accidents caused due to the usage of phones is proof enough.
How often are the notifications really urgent?
Think through. Over 90% of the notifications do not need your immediate attention. Is it a priority to know if a follower of yours liked your recently posted Instagram picture? Even if it was someone whom you secretly had a crush on, can it not wait? No one would come running into your arms just because they liked your picture.
Do you have to get notified about a joke which a person whom you barely know sent on a group? When Tinder mentions you could swipe right again, you don’t have to then and there. Swiping right immediately will not bring you and your soulmate together(if Tinder even serves that purpose).
In short, notifications are a distraction. Ask yourself, how often has a notification been urgent? How many times have you been distracted when you were doing something important?
The urge to check the news feed
Social Media platforms have realized the human addiction behind the need to check the news feed every now and then. It is a common practice to scroll the news feed on Facebook or Instagram when you feel distracted.
Ask yourself, how important is it to know where your distant relative is flying to or what your one-time acquaintance had for lunch? What difference does it make knowing where your ex-colleague is intoxicated downing a few shots of tequila?
How your phone addiction kills your focus and productivity
You might be thinking that checking your phone only for a few seconds does not impact your efficiency a lot. How bad could it get checking the phone for a few seconds, right?
You have not considered the time and focus lost due to attention residue.
Being distracted by a text and getting back to what you were working on does not work like a toggle switch. When you get back to work, attention residue consumes additional time.
Remember when your friend texted you at work? After you replied and pushed the phone in your pocket, the thought of the message still lingered on. That is what attention residue is. In simple terms attention residue is the thought staying around for a while even after you have got back to work thereby hampering your focus.
To give you some numbers, let us say you check your phone 10 or more times an hour. 10 times an hour is a pretty common occurrence in the current generation. You would have spent 1 min to check the phone/email/chat, 1 min on the attention residue and 1 min to refocus where you stopped. In total, you end up wasting 30 mins every hour which is a whopping 50% of the time.
If 1 min each seems like an exaggeration on each of these 3 things, try watching a person around you and use a stopwatch. Find out for yourself, how long a person needs to get back to actual working from the time of distraction.
How to cure phone addiction?
The intent of the article is not to educate people to stop using smartphones or leisure apps altogether. We all know “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The purpose of this article is to reduce notifications itself so that you can kick your smartphone addiction out of the park.
After you hear a notification, resisting the urge to check what it is, is a difficult battle to win against yourself. An easier option is to reduce notifications as much as possible.
Start with a DND:
The best possible solution to reduce notifications is to set your phone on DND(Do Not Disturb Mode).
As for the calls, you are advised to use your best discretion. If you can eliminate distraction by muting all calls too, go ahead and set a complete DND. For those who would like the phone to ring, feel free to allow calls on DND.
Here is how you can set DND and allow calls as exceptions on both iPhones and Androids.
A word of advice: only calls can be the exception. On no occasion has any question asked on a group chat or text been a question of life or death. If a situation really demands your attention, be rest assured people will call you.
The exercise to be on DND:
When you are starting off, set a modest target for yourself. The target can be anything from 1 – 3 hours. Anything less than 1 hour is too short of a duration. A stretch of 3 hours can be a tough temptation to resist for those used to checking the phone every now and then.
Let us assume you have set a healthy target of 90 min of No Smartphone Usage for yourself. For those 90 mins, you are not allowed to look at the phone, read notifications or check any app whatsoever. If at all you receive an incoming call, you can peek to check who is calling. Only if the call is urgent you will receive it. If not, you will wait for the 90 min to complete before returning the call.
Do not use the incoming call as an opportunity to check your messages or application notifications. You are only allowed to check after your target time. Do not cheat by quickly checking for only a second. The whole purpose of the exercise is not to be bound by the shackles of the smartphone.
You should check the smartphone when you want to, not when the smartphone wants you to.
Please note, you may experience discomfort or a headache when you attempt staying away from your cellphone. If you do, what you are experiencing is called phone withdrawal symptoms, which is nothing to worry about.
Rewarding yourself for staying away from your phone
Once you complete 90 min, do reward yourself by checking your phone and spending some time on it. Once you satisfy your cravings, set another target and start again.
A variation of this exercise is to use a notebook and write down the time until which you will not check your phone. Until you reach the time mentioned, you are not allowed to check your phone. Though similar to setting a target mentally, there is always magic when you write down a target.
In this article, you understood the reasons why you are addicted to the smartphone. You realized checking your smartphone has more than one direct way of hampering your productivity. The purpose of this article is to help you get over the urge of checking your phone every now and then. The best way to make your phone less addictive is by reducing the number of times it beeps, rings or vibrates asking for your attention.
In the exercise, you learned how to use the DND mode effectively. The exercise challenged you to put your phone on DND for 1-3 hours. I am sure you came out with flying colors. If not, do not sweat it out. It takes a while to get over your phone addiction.
Leave a comment on how your experience was working on DND.
You have now come to the end of the First Phase: Starting off with Productivity. Pat yourself on the back. It was no easy feat. Additionally, you learned quite a few tricks to avoid wasting time and improve your productivity.
This article is Step 10: Overcome your phone addiction to increase results by 7x, the final step of phase 1 of the 3 phase transformation into superhuman productivity. You will now be stepping into ‘Phase 2: Building Momentum with routine’ . You can begin right from step 1 by accessing the index here – 3 Phase Transformation into Living Your Dreams.
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.