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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.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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