An addiction is when the thing you are addicted to begins to control your life and interferes with your daily activities, work, and relationships. The classical definition of an alcoholic is someone who wakes up to a glass of vodka instead of a cup of coffee.  But with the boom of technology, the signs of addiction can also be found in other places besides the bottom of a glass, it can also be found in the form of cell phones.

If you find yourself checking your phone first thing in the morning—before even getting out of bed, you may be addicted. If you find you’re text-messaging while driving, checking your phone instead of working on an important assignment, or checking Facebook during a romantic dinner—your phone is interfering with your life and you are addicted.

Are missing out on living a fulfilled and rich life because you’re constantly staring at your cell phone?

Here are five tips to manage your phone addiction.

1. The first 30 minutes of your day

If you find yourself waking up in the morning reaching to check in with your phone before you even got out of bed, this is a serious problem. The first 30 minutes upon awakening should be dedicated to creating a good start to your day. This means getting out of bed, freshening up, taking 5 minutes to meditate and stretch and preparing a healthy breakfast. Start your day doing healthy, positive things to build your inner fortitude to take on the day ahead.

2. Create No-Phone Time Zones

The truth of the matter is having a cell phone close by at work is common, and sometimes even required. Whether the ding of your phone is work-related or not—that specific phone alert is rarely related to the current work at hand. If you are constantly getting distracted by your phone going off—you won’t remain focused on the work in front of you, decreasing productivity. Therefore, I advocate for creating a no-phone time-zone. This means that for at least 2 hours of your day(when you’re most productive work happens) you close off your phone and stay completely dedicated to the work in front of you.

3. Turn your Phone Off When You Get Into The Car

This should be a law. I’m waiting for the day that it is. Just as in an aircraft you are asked to power off your electronic devices and cell phones, this should be the law of the road. It is impossible for your mind to be at two places at once. It is a law of physics: no one thing can occupy the same space at the same time, and if your mind and eyes are on your phone, they are not on the road. Driving is one of those places where you do not want to mess around. Sometimes I hear the excuse “Well, I need my phone for directions, my GPS is on it.” To that I say: what did people do five years ago? You would carefully map out your route before you left the house, or you would pull off to the side of the road as you looked at a map. The same rule should apply today. When driving—close off your phone so that you are not even tempted to look at it. Your life and other people’s lives are at stake.

4. Get Real

When you are with a real life person sharing a conversation, a meal, or a cup of coffee, they are a real life form. A real person right there in front of you to engage with. Are you telling me that your virtual friends and virtual text conversations are more important than the real life person in front of you? Not only is this THE rudest thing on the planet, but it breaks down friendships and can ruin relationships. Even if you say to a friend “Oh I just need to check that,” They may respond “Oh, that’s OK.” But the truth is it’s not OK. What you are saying is that the virtual message is more important than them. They have taken time out of their busy life to meet with you, and share real life time with you. By turning your attention away from them you are inevitably saying “You are not as important.” It’s really a sickness that we are so addicted to our phones that we ignore the people we are with to hang out with virtual people over Facebook, Twitter, and text messages. Come on people—it’s time to get real.

5. Don’t Lose Sleep Over It

If you find yourself up late at night playing on your phone, whether it is video games, Facebook, or text messaging, you are losing precious sleep over your addiction. The moment you stop putting energy into caring for your basic needs and pour your time and energy into your phone, you are allowing the phone to dictate your health and well-being. If you catch yourself in this scenario, my advice is to power off your phone an hour before bed time to ensure that your last hour is spent in a meaningful way, and that you get to bed on time to start the next day afresh. Your phone is just not worth losing sleep over.

Now it’s your turn. Do you find yourself in one of these scenarios? What’s your plan of action to ensure that your phone isn’t dictating your life? Please share in the comments below, and let’s inspire each other to live healthier, happier, more meaningful lives by not caving into a phone addiction.

The biggest obstacle to productivity is connectivity. Disconnected Productivity: 9-Step Program to Cure Email Addiction

Featured photo credit: Johan Larssonvia Flickr

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