Is that smartphone addiction becoming a problem? Here's how to kick the habit, be more productive, and get better sleep in the process.
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Seems like we're all getting more addicted to our smartphones these days and there are a variety of reasons why this is bad. For example, they interfere with getting real work done, staring at a tiny screen could lead to eye fatigue and eyesight issues, walking and checking a smartphone is downright dangerous, and driving and using your phone is even more dangerous.
The list goes on and on but then there is the issue of the blue light and how it impacts your sleep patterns when used too close to bedtime. As we mention in our Twilight App Review, research suggests that "blue light" from smartphones and other devices can negatively impact your sleep. It's believed that the light distorts your natural circadian rhythm because it causes your body to produce less melatonin. Melatonin helps you sleep. Tests show that people who play on their devices before bed can find that falling asleep can take longer (an hour or longer).
So how can you break this potentially harmful smartphone addiction? The solution is as simple as turning off notifications and checking your phone on your own schedule rather than when it beeps and wants to be checked.
That's the basic idea, but here is how you can actually make this work. Just like most addictions, going cold turkey may result in a failure so let's ease into it instead.
Step 1 - Turn Notifications Off
That's right, turn all of your notifications off. This includes all text message notifications, social media notifications, and so on. By all means, allow your phone's ringer to stay on because it is a phone after all and it still is okay to answer it if somebody calls. If you get a lot of unimportant calls, consider turning your ringer off or only allow it to ring for a preset list of people (family for example).
Step 2 - Set Schedule
For the first few days, go ahead and check your phone on a frequent schedule. This could be something like once every 30 minutes, or even once and hour. It shouldn't be less than once every 15 minutes, though. Do this for a few days to a week to train yourself to check via set times, not all the time and not when it notifies you.
You should be used to checking on a schedule by this point so you've started to train your brain that schedules are good and shouldn't be a slave to notifications now. Now adjust that schedule to once every 2 hours and do that for a week. After that week, you can adjust the time further out, ideally once every 4-6 hours or more.
Step 3 - Set Time Limits
You'll now need to set some time limits for yourself. This includes limiting the earliest and latest times you'll check and use your smartphone as well as how long you'll use it each time you check it.
For example, avoid waking up and going right to your phone. Instead, set a routine where you wake up, exercise a little, eat breakfast, shower, and get dressed and then check your phone. On the flip side, avoid checking or using your phone later at night. Ideally, stay off of it (and tablets and even TVs) several hours before you plan to go to sleep.
When you do check your device, watch the time and set limits for yourself. Avoid spending more than 15-20 minutes on it at each check if possible. Setting limits will help avoid jumping down the endless rabbit hole and time suck that is social media, non-sense news feeds, and various entertainment websites.
Freedom! Follow these simple steps and, before you know it, you'll be back in the real world and won't miss that old smartphone addiction you used to have. You'll be more productive, should get better sleep at night (for more sleep tips, see 10 Ways To Sleep Better), and now that you're looking up when you walk you hopefully won't unknowingly step out in front of that bus.
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