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How Not to Let Smartphones Make Us Dumber but Smarter

How Not to Let Smartphones Make Us Dumber but Smarter

The more we use smartphones, the dumber we become.

Research [1] has found that having a smartphone physically nearby actually causes us to perform worse on tasks than those who’s smartphones were in another room. In other words, the mere presence of your smartphone reduces your cognitive capacity even if you’re not conscious of the affect.

Smartphones are the largest source of attention pollution

While smartphones provide us with convenience such as the ability to connect with people within seconds, they also facilitate the development of bad habits like having too much entertainment and procrastinating. Entertainment is great for the short term, but it’s a massive drain on our time and has a massive impact on our long term growth.

Whether we want to admit it or not, smartphones are the largest source of attention pollution.  If you check them or not, push notifications are there to remind us of who’s messaged, emailed, liked our status or latest Instagram photo. We get these at all hours of the day and night as a flashing beacon to check our phone, meaning it’s difficult to complete a task without interruption and distraction compared to years ago when this wouldn’t have been a problem.

People are so addicted to smartphones because of the fear of missing out

Even without any notifications to nudge us, we never forget to check our phones, thanks to FOMO or the fear of missing out. This is when we feel that sense of anxiety that we aren’t up to date on the latest news or posts especially on social media, and it causes us to robotically check our smartphones mindlessly.

The problem with FOMO is that we fear we’re missing out on the things that actually don’t matter. Our lives won’t change if we don’t see the latest updates on Facebook.

However, this is causing us to miss the things in life that actually do matter. We waste a vast amount of time that could be spent working on our strengths and weaknesses, widening our knowledge and personal growth or improving our health.

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This is like feeding the brain junk food while letting it be starved of the essential nutrients it needs to sustain its optimum health and thrive.

How not to make your smartphone turn into a “dumbphone”

We can’t completely avoid using our smartphones. This is unrealistic. But there are ways we can avoid our smartphones turning into “dumbphones”.

It starts with identifying particular types of apps that immediately turn a smartphone into a dumbphone. These are the apps that:

  • Have no clear purpose. They don’t provide a concrete function and you can’t tell what you’ll get out if it at the end.
  • Are bottomless. There’s no definite end to these like you’d find with a book or a movie. Rather they’re designed to keep you using them for as long as possible usually in the form of a game.
  • Are addictive. When you don’t use them regularly you feel uncomfortable and FOMO comes to the surface.

Don’t delete them, just make them less accessible

While deleting these apps and going cold turkey may seem like the answer, it’s actually better to make them less accessible.

The more we suppress ourselves by deleting the apps, the more difficult it’ll be to stop thinking about using them.

Instead, a better way (if you use an iPhone in this example) is to gather these apps together into a folder and move this to the last page of your phone’s screen. The magic of this is that you’re creating a choice and when you’re brain is mindful of this choice it feels less tempted to open the apps. The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ concept is also pretty powerful here.

    Create a folder and name it as “Time wasters”
      Put the folder on the last page

      How to further make your smartphone really SMART

      So you’ve managed to reduce access to these time-wasting apps and it’s freed up your time to focus on better things. Now it’s time to use your smartphone to facilitate your growth.

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      Go from the passive to the active approach by using RSS feeds

      Using RSS reader apps can dramatically increase the quality of information you receive through your smartphone. On other platforms, if you have a particular interest and want to get the latest updates you might get inundated with 100 news stories on a subject where only 2 of them are actually applicable to you. With RSS feeds (or Really Simple Syndication feeds), on the contrary, the right information will be filtered for you based on your needs, dramatically cutting down on precious time.

      The good news is most websites have these but Feedly is a great example of an app that allows you to gather vast amounts of content in one place making it convenient for you to find. It links to many different media channels across different platforms allowing you to keep up to date.

        Learn new things through a wide variety of apps

        There are a plethora of apps that help you learn and grow in almost any subject.

        Khan Academy provides so may options for subjects to learn about, from history to science, finance to humanities.

        Wokabulary and Duolingo are two great apps for learning new languages. But whatever you want to learn whether it’s guitar, drawing or coding, there are relevant apps to help you achieve your goals.

          Duolingo (left), Guitar Lessons by Guitar Tricks (Middle), How to Draw – Free Drawing Lessons (right)

          Make use of your phone to track your lifestyle and improve it

          Our smartphones are with us everywhere we go so it’s a great way to track what we do. Once we have a better overall understanding of how we’re choosing to live we can tune and improve it.

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          Tracking what you eat can be one of the best ways to get more healthy. Most of us can’t remember what we ate for dinner last Tuesday but apps like MyFitnessPal will do this for you.

          Other areas of your life can also be covered using your smartphone’s current apps such as writing down your daily moods which can improve your well-being.

          Make good use of practical apps

          There are many amazing apps that can fire up our imaginations or simply help us to live a better life. Either way, they can be used to replace any current apps that waste your time.

          Decibel 10 turns your smartphone into an accurate noise meter. It’s fun and interesting to see how much noise you’re being exposed to.

            PackPoint is a useful one for travellers. It helps calculate what you need to take on a trip according to the length of time, where you’re going and what you’ll be doing there.

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              Waterlogged will help you drink more water by accurately allowing you to measure your containers. It also includes other drinks such as tea, coffee and soda.

                Forest can show you exactly how much time you waste on social media and procrastinating in general. With this app you grow your own tree but the catch is it’ll wither and die the more you move away from the app to check other unnecessary ones.

                  While our smartphones are getting a bad rep, it really is down to us to use them to our full advantage. Replace those apps that bring no added growth to your life and make use of the access to apps that can enhance your knowledge and well-being.

                  Reference

                  More by this author

                  Leon Ho

                  Founder & CEO of Lifehack

                  50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster What Is a Habit? Understand It to Control It 100%

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                  Last Updated on November 19, 2019

                  7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy

                  7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy

                  “Busy” used to be a fair description of the typical schedule. More and more, though, “busy” simply doesn’t cut it.

                  “Busy” has been replaced with “too busy”, “far too busy”, or “absolutely buried.” It’s true that being productive often means being busy…but it’s only true up to a point.

                  As you likely know from personal experience, you can become so busy that you reach a tipping point…a point where your life tips over and falls apart because you can no longer withstand the weight of your commitments.

                  Once you’ve reached that point, it becomes fairly obvious that you’ve over-committed yourself.

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                  The trick, though, is to recognize the signs of “too busy” before you reach that tipping point. A little self-assessment and some proactive schedule-thinning can prevent you from having that meltdown.

                  To help you in that self-assessment, here are 7 signs that you’re way too busy:

                  1. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Took a Day Off

                  Occasional periods of rest are not unproductive, they are essential to productivity. Extended periods of non-stop activity result in fatigue, and fatigue results in lower-quality output. As Sydney J. Harris once said,

                  “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

                  2. Those Closest to You Have Stopped Asking for Your Time

                  Why? They simply know that you have no time to give them. Your loved ones will be persistent for a long time, but once you reach the point where they’ve stopped asking, you’ve reached a dangerous level of busy.

                  3. Activities like Eating Are Always Done in Tandem with Other Tasks

                  If you constantly find yourself using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments, it’s time to lighten the load.

                  It’s one thing to use your time efficiently. It’s a whole different ballgame, though, when you have so little time that you can’t even focus on feeding yourself.

                  4. You’re Consistently More Tired When You Get up in the Morning Than You Are When You Go to Bed

                  One of the surest signs of an overloaded schedule is morning fatigue. This is a good indication that you’ve not rested well during the night, which is a good sign that you’ve got way too much on your mind.

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                  If you’ve got so much to do that you can’t even shut your mind down when you’re laying in bed, you’re too busy.

                  5. The Most Exercise You Get Is Sprinting from One Commitment to the Next

                  It’s proven that exercise promotes healthy lives. If you don’t care about that, that’s one thing. If you’d like to exercise, though, but you just don’t have time for it, you’re too busy.

                  If the closest thing you get to exercise is running from your office to your car because you’re late for your ninth appointment of the day, it’s time to slow down.

                  Try these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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                  6. You Dread Getting up in the Morning

                  If your days are so crammed full that you literally dread even starting them, you’re too busy. A new day should hold at least a small level of refreshment and excitement. Scale back until you find that place again.

                  7. “Survival Mode” Is Your Only Mode

                  If you can’t remember what it feels like to be ahead of schedule, or at least “caught up”, you’re too busy.

                  So, How To Get out of Busyness?

                  Take a look at these articles to help you get unstuck:

                  Featured photo credit: Khara Woods via unsplash.com

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