It is now virtually impossible to remove smartphones from our lives. They wake us up in the morning, alert us to meetings, enable us to stay connected to those who matter and remind us to pick up milk on the way home. They’re our entertainment and business centres rolled into one, and the obvious truth is that they’re here to stay.
Despite their benefits and ability to keep us connected, smartphones get a bad rap, particularly because we seem to be spending more and more time using them. Research from the University of Derby showed that the study’s participants spent an average of 3.6 hours per day on their phones. Considering that the average adult spends just under seven hours sleeping, it’s not difficult to see why this number is alarming.
Research suggests that using our phones all day long isn’t a good idea. According to an article from Psychology Today, spending too much time looking at our screens (for example, when gaming or surfing the Internet) can have a detrimental effect on our health. For one, it’s been found that a high amount of screen time can cause changes to the structure of our brains; it can cause grey matter atrophy, as well as mess with the white matter’s ability to communicate. It was also found that staring at a screen too much can lead to poorer cognitive performance.
Health issues aside, the news also isn’t good – for example, a Kent State University study showed that the more you use your phone the less fun you have in general. Despite all this, however, it would be hard to imagine life without smartphones. In terms of business, they are invaluable, helping us to stay connected when and where it matters. Additionally, a study found that smartphone apps help us save a lot of time – an average of 88 minutes each day. The research by ClickSoftware showed that messaging apps helped to save more time than others.
So, with studies demonstrating that being tied to our smartphones 24/7 can be detrimental to our wellbeing, but the undeniable reality that they’re here to stay, the key is to become more conscious users. Here are a few handy tips to get you started.
Figure out your smartphone usage
As a first step, it is useful to find out how long you’re glued to your phone each day. Apps such as Moment for iOS calculate this for you; it can also alert you whenever you’re using your phone too much.
Deactivate unnecessary notifications
Is it really necessary for you to be notified every time your aunt Betty retweets something The Rock has posted on Twitter? Probably not. Luckily, most of our smartphones give us the option to control just how many (or how few) notifications we receive from each of our apps. Less is more, in this situation.
Don’t use your phone as an alarm
Most of us are guilty of this: hitting ‘stop’ on our phone’s alarm in the morning and then instinctively opening Instagram in order to browse through photos of puppies and avocado on toast. Overcome this early morning time wastage by using a standalone alarm clock instead.
Don’t bring your phone into your bedroom
Eliminate any temptation to scroll through your social media feeds before you go to sleep by charging your phone in any room but your bedroom. This will also reduce the temptation to log on if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Use airplane mode
This is a great tip for whenever you want to completely disconnect but you still have your phone with you. Turn airplane mode on whenever you’re at dinner, at the gym, watching TV or in any social situations and you’ll soon find that you’re using your phone less than before.
Join a coworking space
Alternatively, unplug from your phone by joining a coworking space and connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs face-to-face over coffee or at a networking event. Being self-employed can mean a lot of hours spent alone, so it’s only natural that we reach for our phones more when working from a café, but there is no real substitute for direct human interaction. To find out more how a coworking space can help you to reach your goals, visit www.ourspace.work