Don’t get me wrong, phones are one of the greatest inventions ever.
A phone can be almost anything you want it to be: a camera, a video recorder, a microphone, a calculator, an alarm clock, a translator, a telephone where you can actually see the other person, a portal to all of the history and knowledge of recorded time.
Then there is every application imaginable to build upon your specific interests: from aeroplane trackers to meditation apps to games where you have to make a little creature fly in between green tubes (I miss you Flappy Bird).
It is little wonder then that we spend so much time on our phones, without even mentioning social media. The problem for many of us, myself included, is that we know we spend too much time on our phones but we can’t stop. My friends, we have stumbled on what one would call an addiction.
As always, the first step is admission. One that I have taken recently as well as in the past with video games and burritos. The latter I am still working on.
The point isn’t to totally disconnect from these things but to feel and be in control of them. As I highlighted earlier, completely eliminating your phone from your life to go live in a forest in Peru is probably a stupid idea. It’s one of the greatest, most powerful and most entertaining inventions ever. Yet with great power comes great responsibility…
Anyway, here are a few things I am doing to limit my screen time and turning vegging out on social media to ‘alive time’. I may make a similar list in the future about burritos, but don’t hold your breath.
Turning phone to greyscale
Yes, it may look extremely dull and not very stimulating, but that’s the whole point. I have found as well as other researchers that turning your phone to greyscale significantly reduces the time spent on your phone. Why? Because everything you browse looks dull and the brain is deprived of something that it is extremely responsive to: colour. That incredible sunset that your friend just took? It looks awful. Browsing clothes online? I hope you like gray. Your phone is swiftly put down and you can get back to being productive. As well as this, when you do finally put colour back into your phone, the world looks even more beautiful. It’s a win-win.
In iOS 10, go to Settings > General > Accessibility >Display Accommodations >Color Filters. Switch Color Filters on and select Grayscale. You can triple-click the home button to switch back and forth between greyscale and colour.
The process for enabling grayscale differs for different models of Android phones, but it’s typically accessed via the “Accessibility” menu
Abandon your phone before bed and after waking
This has been huge for me. I have definitely started getting better sleep and waking up fresher this way. All you have to do is put your phone on flight mode so you don’t get disturbed, distracted or tempted to go back on it. Give it at least half an hour, I don’t know maybe go wild and read a book or something. Get some shut-eye. Wake up, snooze a little if you want, shower, do your morning routines and THEN check your phone again. Trust me you’ll thank me for it.
BONUS: a side benefit is that your eyes may feel less tired and sore upon waking. Checking my phone first thing put them under immediate strain and I suffered because of it. In hindsight, it wasn’t that wise.
Sort out your social media feeds
What I and many people mean when they say they are addicted to social media is that they are addicted to scrolling the timeline, news feed or whatever. The endless treadmill of status updates, cat videos and the occasional Vine that I do enjoy. Keep your favourite few meme pages but cut the rest. Add in some interesting people from your hobby or area of interest. Follow people that are going to bring value to your feed and cut the deadwood. If you are going to keep on scrolling, at least make sure you control who and what’s on there.
Turn off notifications
This is something that a lot of people have already started to do. If you haven’t, then it is definitely time to get on board if you are serious about taking back control. I would recommend keeping notifications on for those that may need an instant response like texts and calls. Ditch the social media notifications and even News notifications because let’s be honest, it’s rarely ever actual ‘news’. You would get annoyed if you were working or playing and somebody kept ringing your doorbell demanding your attention. Why is this any different?