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20 Things You Should Do Instead of Reaching Your Smartphone During Downtime

20 Things You Should Do Instead of Reaching Your Smartphone During Downtime

Are you suffering from nomophobia (no-mobile-phone-phobia)?  This is the term used to describe an addiction whereby you feel real fear at the thought of being separated from your smartphone. If you are suffering from this, then you are a nomophobe. An astonishing 66% of the UK population is already addicted. One figure of 84% globally has been mentioned. There are already rehab groups for nomophobia in California and other US States.

Look at the shocking video where the bride insists on pulling out her smartphone as she is getting married. Unbelievable!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDVQvme5tb0

Now look at the mental and physical health risks:

  • Relationships will suffer. Friends and loved ones want to connect and engage with you.
  • Your performance at work will be affected negatively
  • You will not be able to concentrate at school.
  • Smartphones are full of germs—I mean you put it on any surface you find, don’t you?
  • You will lose your concentration. Pedestrians who are on their smartphones were more than four times more likely to be unaware of lights at crossings. Don’t mention drivers please, as it will only put my blood pressure up!
  • Poor quality sleep. Artificial light from screens affects the melatonin production which induces sleep.
  • Any virtual addiction can alter your mood and is dangerous. See Dr. Greenfield’s book called Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyber Freaks, and Those Who Love Them. 

So, if you are looking at it 150 times a day or worried that this might become a serious addiction, try these 20 things instead of reaching for your smartphone :

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1. Admit that your smartphone has taken over your life.

This is always the first step in any addiction cure. You have to face up to the fact that you have a problem. Now that you have recognized that there is an issue, resolve to do something to change all that.

2. Get a smart phone addiction app.

It seems ridiculous, but there is an app for that! These help you to put your smartphone on pause as if you were travelling by air. They also give you feedback on how long you managed to stay disconnected so that you can do better the next time. Other apps can disable your web browser, reject phone calls and send auto text messages.

3. Don’t reply to emails instantly.

Warn your colleagues that you are not going to answer emails straightaway and that you will only check for urgent ones every 3 or 4 hours. This takes some of the pressure off you and you can relax knowing that they are not going to expect an instant reply.

4. Choose face-to-face interaction whenever possible.

A good rule of thumb is that if an email correspondence involves more than four exchanges, it is time for real face-to-face interaction. You benefit from communicating with a real person again and as an added bonus, you can leave the smartphone on your desk. The world is not going to end while you are away from your desk!

5. Relax with friends.

If anyone uses their iPhone or smartphone when invited to dinner at my house, they are never invited again!  We do make exceptions for bad news and apocalyptic events!  Try leaving the smartphone at home when going out to do shopping or when relaxing with friends.

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6. Get back in touch with the present.

Instead of reaching for that phone, which will only tell you some pretty boring details from your latest Facebook post, tweet or text, try a few mindfulness exercises. Just take time to smell, listen and taste something. Take a mental note of what you are feeling as you engage with the real world again.

7. Never take your smartphone to bed.

Switch it off and dedicate yourself to much more pleasurable and physical activities such as sleep and sex.

8. Pick up a real book or newspaper.

The joy of reading something is immense. Yes, I know you have all those ebooks on your ereader, but connect again with the pleasure of turning a page, touching and holding a real book made from trees, rather than tungsten. It is really therapeutic.

9. Go for a walk.

Instead of sitting down and discovering that the world has still not ended, go out for a walk. Get fresh air and start breathing again. No, you don’t need your smartphone for this activity.

10. Use predictable time off.

Laura Perlow has some useful tips in her book Sleeping With Your Smartphone.  She has suggested the technique which is called PTO (predictable time off). Here, groups of colleagues or friends can set boundaries and limits for when they all switch off their smartphones so that real work can get done.

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11. Set time limits for yourself.

When faced with any task at home or at work, try to switch off the phone and tell yourself that you are allowed to check it only after the task is completed. This is what I always do with my email addiction when writing these posts. It usually works, but not always!

12. Keep your smartphone out of sight.

Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes. If the smartphone is on pause or silent mode, then you might get a chance to watch a film, listen to music or even cook something nice for supper.

13. Use a weaning off process.

Some experts do not agree with keeping the phone out of sight. They recommend that you keep it in view as part of the weaning off process. You start by resolving to not use it for 15 minutes and gradually increase the periods, but keep it in your line of vision. That is the challenge. Try what works for you best. It is a great feeling when you can go without for several hours and your anxiety and fear levels drop. Then it begins to dawn on you that life goes on and that you can be a real person without that dammed device.

14. Try downgrading.

If all the distractions and technological wizardry are simply taking you over, try downgrading to a simpler model. A friend of mine did this successfully and also found that the absence of a touch screen led to a much less frustrating experience when sending texts.

15. Don’t take risks.

If you find that you need to concentrate on anything, whether it is driving, crossing the street or simply writing an email, resolve to switch off or at least put away your smartphone.

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16. Reach out.

Now instead of sliding your fingers across a yucky screen, why not reach out to a real person? Somebody you have not called on recently or who needs a shoulder to cry on? Yes, you can use the smartphone but only because you are engaged in a real conversation.

17. Stop slouching.

Normally hunched over the smartphone or PC?  I bet your shoulders/wrists/thumb joints are feeling the strain. Try this exercise in the video below. It did wonders for my painful shoulder due to a RSI (repetitive strain injury). I got mine from writing posts for Lifehack!

18. Be grateful.

Sit down comfortably and think of 5 people or things in your life that you are grateful for. These can range from your cat to your 42 carat diamond ring.

19. Make a list.

Well, actually two lists!  One is of all the things you have achieved in your life or in the last week. The other one is to start listing all the other things that still have to be done.

20. Imagine you are back in the 1980s.

Sheer bliss. There were no smartphones then. I wonder how on earth they spent their downtime?

Do you think you can get over your addiction? Tell us about it in the comments and also any hacks that you might like to pass on. Oh, excuse me, must dash, my smartphone is calling me!

Featured photo credit: Smartphone mania/Krocky Meshkin via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart 10 Reasons Why People Are Unmotivated (And How to Be Motivated) 12 Secrets To a Super Productive Meeting You Should Know What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It 10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

More Time Management Techniques

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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