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Break Bad and Curb Your Addiction to Smartphones

Break Bad and Curb Your Addiction to Smartphones

We live in a generation that’s tech-crazy, tech-savvy, tech-hungry, and desperately distracted. The flip side of technology is its ability to blur the lines of reality. Case in point: Social Media is a viable alternative to real, personal interaction. It’s easier to build relationships online with people of various interests and social circles, guilt-free. The thing is, these relationships are somewhat disposable.

This can’t discredit the contributions of technology to awareness and connectivity, but there’s a disconnect when people start paying too much attention to 7-inch screens instead of the boundless world that’s literally in front of them. You’re guilty of this if you take too many selfies, using the beach or canyon as backdrop. Each minute you spend focusing on digital documentation is a minute lost savoring the moment.

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The Truth About Smartphones

Smartphones are practically downscaled computers, and many of the devices available nowadays will put the desktop computers of yesteryear to shame. Portability and mobility is a blessing and a curse, and if you can’t imagine yourself without your smartphone, not even for a few minutes, then it’s time to rethink your dependence. Nip the problem in the bud before it becomes an addiction. Here are solutions you should try out to wean yourself from your smartphone and your insatiable attachment to it.

1. Use it When You Need it

Decide to use your smartphone only when necessary, even if this is easier said than done. You just can’t have too many apps on your device, and there are even more available for download, including apps that’ll turn your smartphone into a digital Swiss knife. As it turns out, your decision will make all the difference. Restrict, or limit online activity to your laptop, a bulkier contraption people seldom use nowadays. At the very least, use your smartphone for its basic functions—making calls and sending messages, in case you’ve forgotten.

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2. Set Boundaries

Recover and maintain your boundaries. There’s a reason why phones are switched off on airplanes, at movie theaters, classrooms, and boardroom meetings. There are things that deserve priority, like your safety and everyone else’s personal space. Besides, people used to get by without all those on-the-go emails and online statuses, and it’s unlikely you’re missing something important for the next twenty minutes. Turn off your smartphone when necessary; you’re still on the grid, and everything will come rushing in when you come back.

3. Meals First, Socialization Second

Can you imagine a day when you tucked away your phone during dinner or during lunch? Some people even have the nerve to flip out their phones in the middle of an engaging dinner date. Dinners are meant for meals first, socialization second. You can tap-tap at the touch-screen to your heart’s content if you’re dining solo, or if you don’t mind your meal getting cold by the minute. However, do yourself and your companion a favor by tucking your phone away and focusing on the meal instead.

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4. Stop and Smell the Roses, Literally

When was the last time you spent time in the great outdoors, took a leisurely walk at the park, or watched children skating at a frozen lake? When was the last time you did these without bringing along a smartphone, tablet, laptop, even a digital camera? The great outdoors is best experienced raw and spontaneous, and it’s better if you only have the basic few tools to document the entire thing. Digital cameras can be necessities, so long as you focus on the experience and the documentation. The best thing about the outdoors is the absence of network signal, though, leaving you no choice but to sit on your hands the whole time.

5. Hold the Updates for Later

Don’t you just love social media sites? Most people do, anyway. Posting updates on Facebook, Twitter, and a plethora of other sites establishes your online presence, to your real and online communities, but you’ll be amazed how these little indulgences sap your time and productivity. These are serious distractions if you steal a peek at updates every so often at work. Moreover, if you’re one of those who considers social media as a second life, a few minutes of indulgence easily stretches out to thirty minutes, to hours on end. Your community will thrive even if you don’t post-share that dancing cat video, the one you just can’t get enough of.

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6. Real People Got Game

Smartphones have downscaled interaction, and technology also did the same to gaming. Although you’re often part of a larger community when you’re in an online game, the connection is different compared to playing Monopoly or Uno with friends and family. Have you ever played Jenga online or on mobile? The virtual game is a dud compared to the actual game, isn’t it? Nothing beats the thrill of playing group games with real people, people you can actually reach out to and touch, fist-bump, and give high fives to.

7. Position Yourself Away From GPS

The convenience of GPS has become a necessity, and many are now dependent on this technology whenever they’re scouting the beaten and off-beat paths. It’s even easier to check out a store’s location online before you head out and visit the mall. These perks numb our sense of adventure, though. There’s a special thrill that comes when you’re lost in the wild. Besides, you’ll eventually find that shoe outlet, and you might even pass by the competition, find deals sweeter than you intended to pay for. GPS is helpful when your position on the planet is of the utmost importance, but unless you’re lost at sea or amidst a lush rain forest, then everything is just indulgence.

8. Don’t Text and Drive

There’s a running joke about seatbelts and helmets, these being invented to protect something that even dares to defy the odds by speeding and challenging the rules of physics. Using smartphones and electronic devices takes negligence to the next level, though. Sure, your car has cruise control and you know the routes like the back of your hand, but the vehicle and the driver behind, beside, and in front of you may not. If you really value your life and the lives of those with you, then you should drop the phone and take the steering wheel and gear shift seriously.

Of course, these are just suggestions to help you curb your addiction to smartphones. You’ll find other ways to curb your smartphone addiction, and it’ll dawn on you that the device isn’t as essential as you imagined. If you’re not convinced, take out your smartphone, grip it like a bar of soap, and consider if you’ve become dependent like it’s another limb, a third arm if you will. If you are, let it go and spend some actual “me” time, away from the distractions and trivialities of technology.

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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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