Advertising
Advertising

The top 10 lessons I learned using my smartphone for only 60 minutes a day

The top 10 lessons I learned using my smartphone for only 60 minutes a day

For the last three months I have only used my smartphone for one hour a day; a tall order considering my smartphone is like another appendage to me. Actually, scratch that – before this productivity experiment, my smartphone was like tapestry, so interwoven into my life that I couldn’t dream of living without it. If I came up with a crazy thought, I would pull out my phone to tweet it out. If I saw a book I wanted to read, I would snap a picture of it with my phone to refer back to later. If I wanted to pass some time at the bus stop.. well, you get the idea.

There is an adage that says great design is invisible, and that holds especially true for my smartphone. Over the last few years, my iPhone has done everything from wake me up in the morning to track my sleep when I went to bed, and over time it became so interwoven into my daily routine that it became invisible to me; such an essential part of what I do and who I am that I couldn’t imagine living without it.

Until I started this experiment.

I’ve boiled down everything I learned over the last 3 months into the 10 points below. This productivity experiment wasn’t as tough as meditating for 35 hours over a week, or living as a total recluse for 10 days, but because it lasted so damn long, it sure wasn’t easy (I used my phone for as much as 3-4 hours a day before starting this experiment). Here are the top 10 things I learned using my smartphone for only 1 hour/day for 3 months!

    10. You meet interesting people when you’re not always on your phone.

    Shortly after I started this experiment, I met a man named Michael at the bus stop, simply because I didn’t have my headphones in. A similar thing happened a couple of other times throughout the experiment.

    Advertising

    9. Your smartphone is a teleportation device.

    Your smartphone is like a little black hole in your pocket that sucks you into its vortex dozens of times every day. If you pick it up when you’re in an elevator, on a bus, or going for a walk, it sucks up 100% of your attention as you use it, essentially hijacking your attention until it has teleported you to your destination. I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, but I’m leaning toward bad. Just as a practice like meditation can help you work out your attention muscle, I think losing control of your attention, like when you become completely absorbed in your cellphone, can do the opposite.

    6

      8. Because of smartphones, people are bored a lot less often, and that’s a shame.

      I find that my best ideas come from completely out of the blue, especially when I’m bored. When your mind is bored, it looks around for excitement and ideas in new places. Your brain also chews on ideas when it’s bored. In my opinion, leaning on your smartphone when you’re bored is, at least in the long-term, a pretty unproductive thing to do.

      7. Using your smartphone distracts you way more than you think.

      Studies have shown that “the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk”. But the thing is, people don’t only use their phones when they drive. They use them when they’re talking to you, when you’re in a meeting with them, when they’re walking down the street, and when they’re working. Know how much of an attention suck a smartphone can be, because people could be paying a lot less attention to you than you think.

      6. Your smartphone is stimulating, but it dilutes your interactions with people.

      If you gave me the choice between having a nice coffee with someone or sending a bunch of tweets back and forth, I know which one I’d pick after this experiment. Texting, Twitter, and Facebook are fun and addictive, but if you really want to invest in your relationship with someone, meet with them in person instead.

      Advertising

      5. When you meet with someone in person, you should shut your phone completely off.

      Absolutely nobody you meet cares (or can see) what you’re doing on your phone. When I had coffee with a few friends throughout the course of this experiment, the first thing I did after I sat down was shut my phone completely off. Shutting your phone off when you’re with someone is a great way to show them they they’re important to you, and that you’re ready to give them 100% of your attention.

      Top_view-1024x640

        4. When people get nervous or anxious about a situation they’re in, they almost always pull out their phone.

        The next time you walk into an elevator, make a make a mental note of how many people pull out their phone, especially if there’s only one other person in there with you. When people are anxious about a situation they’re in, they almost always fidget with their hands and minds.

        3. Using your smartphone is a very low-leverage activity.

        In fact, if you’re like me, most of the things you do on your phone are a waste of time. They involve diluted social interaction, bite-sized status updates, and other things that have a very short shelf-life (but are still stimulating nonetheless). That’s not to say that my smartphone isn’t useful – it is, in fact, it’s one of the useful devices I own. But it’s worth taking the time to identify the activities on your smartphone that will provide you with the highest return for your time, because there are a lot that are a waste.

        Advertising

        8261651344_5b14fdcae3_b

          2. You use your phone way more than you think you do.

          If you hire your phone to do as many jobs as me, I’d wager a bet that you use your smartphone a lot more than you think you do. If I had to guess at the beginning of the experiment, I would have said that I used my phone for 30-60 minutes a day. A few days into the experiment I measured exactly how long I used my phone naturally, and I use it for as long as 3-4 hours a day, simply because I hire it to do so many jobs. That’s a lot of time to spend on something as low-leverage as using your phone. If you’re serious about regaining control of your time, track how much you use your phone. You might be surprised by just how much you use it.

          1. Think hard about the jobs that you hire the things in your life to do for you.

          People don’t want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole. – Theodore Levitt

          The ‘jobs-to-be-done’ theory is a powerful one. According to the theory, you hire every single device, object, and even person in your life to do a certain job for you. You may hire a beautiful, living room painting to provide you with warmth and pride, your morning coffee to provide you with energy and comfort, your spouse for companionship and to feel loved, and this website to make you more productive.

          Throughout this experiment, here’s the funny thing I discovered: The ease of this experiment depended solely on whether I had other devices around me that could do a given job that I would typically hire my phone to do.

          If you’re like me, you hire your smartphone to do a lot of jobs for you. I hire mine to, in no particular order: access twitter, send and receive email, play music, make phone calls, calculate numbers, browse the web, play video games, be my Starbucks card, give me transit directions, tell the time (and act as a timer), be a pomodoro timer, and a whole lot more. Naturally, the more jobs you hire a gadget to do for you, the more your life will be disrupted after it’s gone.

          Advertising

          Thinking hard about the jobs you hire your phone to do for you will allow you to truly see the place it occupies in your life.

          Plus, if you’re anything like me, you might find that there are a lot of jobs that can be done better by something else.

          Thanks to Ryan Wang for editing the feature image of this post. Photo credits, in order of appearance: Caden Crawford (phone and hand), Robert Donovan (closeup of iPhone screen), and Richard Lambert (timepiece).

          Featured photo credit: Caden Crawford via flickr.com

          More by this author

          The Top 10 Things I Learned about Productivity Living in Total Isolation for 10 Days The top 10 lessons I learned using my smartphone for only 60 minutes a day The Top 10 Things I Learned Meditating for 35 Hours over One Week 10 one-minute time hacks that will make you more productive You Can Easily Learn 100 TED Talks Lessons In 5 Minutes Which Most People Need 70 Hours For

          Trending in Productivity

          1 17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process 2 11 Things You Should Minimize for a Better Life 3 Too Much On Your Plate? 7 Ways to Tackle It 4 5 Reasons for Your Facebook Addiction (and How to Break It) 5 The Secret of Success to Achieving Anything You Want Revealed

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on September 24, 2020

          17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

          17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

          In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

          The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

          Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

          1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

          Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

          For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

          2. Use the Pareto Principle

          Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

          Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

          3. Make Stakes

          Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

          Advertising

          However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

          4. Record Yourself

          Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

          5. Join a Group

          There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

          6. Time Travel

          Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

          Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

          7. Be a Chameleon

          When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

          Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

          “Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

          Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

          8. Focus

          Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

          Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

          9. Visualize

          The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

          Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

          Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

          10. Find a Mentor

          Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

          Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

          Advertising

          If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

          11. Sleep on It

          Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

          Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

          12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

          Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

          His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

          Check out his video to find out more:

          13. Learn by Doing

          It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

          Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

          Advertising

          14. Complete Short Sprints

          Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

          One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

          15. Ditch the Distractions

          Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

          Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

          16. Use Nootropics

          Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

          Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

          Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

          17. Celebrate

          For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

          Advertising

          The Bottom Line

          Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

          More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

          Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

          Reference

          Read Next