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9 Ways to Spend Less Time on Your Phone

put the phone down
Foto: CC0 / Unsplash / Gilles Lambert

These days we are attached to our phones 24/7 due to their handy apps and fun games. If you're using yours too much, check out these tips on how to spend less time on your phone.

Smartphones have enhanced our lives and can make everyday tasks easier, such as banking, paying bills and ordering food or taxis. We use them to check e-mail, take photos, update our social media profiles and play games. But there is a downside to all this connectedness.

A 2014 study discovered that if a smartphone is present, we’re less likely to empathize with others or have quality conversations. In fact, using technology a lot can have wide-ranging detrimental effects on our mental health. It can cause social isolation, difficulty focusing, and impair emotions and sleep.

With all the negative side effects, it looks like we need to be more aware of our usage and consider how to put the phone down. However, it’s easier said than done; many of us feel addicted to our phones and reach for them without thinking about it. If that sounds like you, check out these 10 productive things to do instead of scrolling through your phone for ideas on what else to do with your downtime.

In this article, we’ll share 9 ways to spend less time on your phone.

1. Have a "No Phones" Rule During Quality Time

Have your whole group put their phones away.
Have your whole group put their phones away.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / natureaddict)

Meeting up with family and friends is a great way to disconnect from online life, but problems can arise if we’re tempted to look at our screens during conversations and quality time. Similarly, if our loved ones are constantly checking their own devices, it can be frustrating and make us feel neglected. Give the gift of time and respect with your undivided attention.

Make a deal with family and friends to put your phones down when you’re spending time together. It gives you more time and attention to each other — far more rewarding and valuable in the long run. For family members you live with, phone-free time could be scheduled for a specific time of day, like after dinner, to give each person time to check in and have in-person interaction.

Putting the phone down together can keep you motivated. You may find that you have more fun with your friends and family anyway, so you don’t even think about checking your phone.

2. Put the Phone Down, Pick Up a Camera

Use a digital camera instead of your cameraphone.
Use a digital camera instead of your cameraphone.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / PublicDomainPictures)

The amazing camera and photo quality smartphones offer mean we tend to photograph every moment of the day. If we put the phone down and pick up a camera instead, we can take more mindful photographs. Focusing on the art of photography can free up your time — and result in better-quality, more memorable shots.

Furthermore, studies show that recording everything — by taking lots of photos, for example — affects how the brain makes new memories. 

The process of using a physical camera is lengthier and requires more forethought (Does your SD card have room for more photos? Did you remember to bring it with you?) and can encourage you to be more selective about which events to document. Never mind that less posing for the camera enables us to live in the moment a bit more.

3. Establish No-Phone Hours

Take time to switch off your phone.
Take time to switch off your phone.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Pexels)

Choose specific times of day to switch off your phone or leave it in another room. This could be when you arrive home from work, so you can make time for loved ones or self-care, or perhaps after dinner when the temptation is to sit on the sofa scrolling through your phone. Your phone detox time can be as short as an hour, but you’ll be surprised just how many more relaxing and rewarding activities can fill that time. 

Read a book, go slow jogging, or pick up a new hobby by learning how to geocache or make wine at home. You could also throw caution to the wind and try doing nothing

4. Avoid Multitasking

Don't use your phone at the same time as doing other things.
Don't use your phone at the same time as doing other things.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Firmbee)

Be wary of using your phone at the same time as doing other things, like eating and scrolling or playing with the kids and checking your messages. Prioritize monotasking by being aware of when you’re looking at your screen when you should be doing something else. Make a conscious decision to put the phone down and focus on the task at hand — your phone can wait.

In the same vein, when it is appropriate to be on your phone, avoid multitasking then, too. If you’re chatting with a friend, respect them with your undivided attention.

5. Disable Notifications

Switch off notifications for distracting apps.
Switch off notifications for distracting apps.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / HeikoAL)

Our smartphones themselves can be addictive. They provide easy escapism and something to distract us from the difficulties of day-to-day life. However, this constant contact can cause health problems like disrupted sleep, poor concentration and problems with posture.

A simple way to sidestep the temptation to check your phone constantly is by turning off in-app notifications. Most apps have notifications on automatically, but you likely don’t need them on all the time.

This lets you control when you check your phone, not the other way around.

6. Don't Immediately Post on Social Media

Delay posting on social media.
Delay posting on social media.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Webster2703)

Similar to point two about not taking too many photos, start a new habit of updating your social media only after your activity or event has finished. There’s no need to check in at every location or post photos as soon as you take them — you don’t have anything to prove to an online audience. Delaying your posts can help you live in the moment and enjoy what you’re doing.

7. Delete Time-Consuming Apps

Delete time-consuming apps you can live without.
Delete time-consuming apps you can live without.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / StockSnap)

Figure out which apps take up most of your time and decide if you really need them. Even temporarily deleting certain apps from your phone can get you out of the habit of constantly checking them. If deleting apps is too much for you, try hiding them instead.

Apps to keep include the ones necessary for everyday life, like online banking or calendars. Consider deleting social apps or games designed to consume your time.

8. Use a Flip Phone

Don't use a smartphone.
Don't use a smartphone.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / sabinevanerp)

It’s hard to imagine our lives without these mini-computers in our pockets. Still, cell phones were originally only used for making calls and sending text messages. 

A logical way to spend less time staring at your screen is to have a basic, less expensive mobile phone that doesn’t do anything that you don’t absolutely need. Get used to sending text messages and making phone calls again instead of using Twitter or Instagram.

9. Leave Your Phone at Home

The thing about smartphones is that we’re connected to them 24/7, and it’s challenging just to put the phone down. To avoid temptation, leave it at home when you go out. This gives you space to breathe and stops you from being enticed to scroll when you should be focusing on something — or someone — else.

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