Is the first thing that you do each morning and the last thing that you do every night is check your phone for messages, emails and social media updates? Do you find yourself reaching for your phone every few minutes or when you have a moment to spare? Did you know that your relationship with your ‘smartphone’ could be actually reducing your short-term memory?
Do you have a habit of keeping a place on the dinner table where you can keep your phone at easy reach? While you are at work or doing a task are you easily distracted by the sound of a beep, a whistle or an notification from your cell phone? Computer science professor Erik Fransén , says “when you are on Facebook, you are making it harder to keep the things that are ‘online’ in your brain that you need. You are reducing your own working memory capacity.”
Have you noticed that the smartphone is having a negative effect on the conversations that you have with the people around you? Are you more interested in scrolling through Pinterest than having a good discussion with your friends or family members? Sociologist Sherry Turkle warns that cell phones are killing the art of conversation and are actually hurting our interactions with others.
Here are three simple steps that will help you limit the time that you spend using your phone.
1. Out Of Sight Out Of Mind:
By keeping your phone on your desk, at the dinner table or beside you on the couch, you are too easily tempted to check it every few minutes. Instead get into the positive, productive habit of putting your phone on silent and keep it out of sight in a drawer or a handbag.
2. Limit Your Time:
Give yourself a few minutes in the morning to check your phone for emails and messages. I like to take a few minutes in the morning to go through my Facebook feed to read some motivational quotes and articles. I then spend just a few minutes at lunchtime and in the evening to connect with friends from around the world. I like to think of the time that I spend online is productive time. Instead of losing track of time while scrolling through your social media feeds, get into the habit of limiting yourself to a certain amount of time before putting your phone away.
3. Quality over Quantity:
Do you follow a thousand people on twitter? Perhaps you have liked dozens of Facebook pages and Pinterest accounts? Take the time to go through your social media accounts and start clearing up space on your news-feed. Turn your social media time into quality time and choose pages or accounts that will inspire, inform and connect you with like-minded people.
This article is by no means anti- technology or anti-smartphone, it is more pro-conversation and pro-interaction. Create sacred spaces around you where mobile phone use is out of bounds; the dinner table, the kitchen, the car and the bedroom for starters. Limit the time that you spend using your phone and finally, get into the wonderful habit again of having a conversation without reaching for your phone.
The people that you love and that you care about are far more interesting and stimulating than your Twitter or Facebook feeds. Go ahead, put your phone down- seriously.