Wasting time and being distracted are just two hindrances to managing our time well. We all have things that distract us or cause us to waste time. There are as many different types of distractions and time wasters as there are people. The key to eliminating them from your life is to figure out what distracts and causes you to waste time.
I would bet, though, that the number one distraction and time waster for most people is their cell phone. I know it is for me. In fact, I’ve recently become aware of how anxious and keyed up I get when I’m on it a lot. It has been too easy to fall into the habit of keeping my cell phone beside me all the time. When I do, I’m always tempted to look at it even when I have no reason to.
Checking my cell phone all the time has become an addiction for me. I know this not only because of the physical reaction it’s causing but I can actually see how much time I’m wasting on it.
I use the app Moment to monitor my cell phone usage. Each week I get a report that tells me how much time I’ve spent on different apps on my phone. I have discovered that the two apps I access the most are Facebook and my favorite game. Reality hit when I realized that I’ve been spending anywhere from 9-10 hours per week on those two apps alone. Sometimes even more time than that!
This discovery has led me to begin to take some drastic steps to limit my phone usage. I mean, seriously, how much of that time I wasted on those two apps could have been used to further my goals and do something productive?
Maybe you are struggling with your phone usage, too. Here are a few tips I’ve discovered as I’m beginning the process of putting the phone down.
Designate a place to keep your phone
As I mentioned above, I have gotten into the habit of keeping my phone by my side all the time when I’m at home. This made it too easy to pick it up and be distracted by it.
Now I leave it on the kitchen counter when I’m downstairs. The only times I move it are if I go upstairs to my office or when I go to bed at night. Since we don’t have a landline, I feel I need to keep it close enough to answer it if it rings.
It has been a game changer to leave the phone in a place where I’m not tempted to check it all the time. I’ve found that if I really need to look at something online, I can use my computer. I’m not tempted to surf the internet as much when I’m on my computer. Usually my computer time is very focused so I don’t spend a lot of time on it.
I would suggest you look for a place to keep your phone where it’s accessible if you need it but far enough away from you so you’re not tempted to check it all the time.
Find something else to do
When I’m tempted to pick up my phone I ask myself, “Is there something else I should be doing?” Usually the answer is yes. There is always something else I could or should be doing.
One of the times I’m tempted to get on my phone is when I’m waiting. Maybe I have a few minutes before I leave the house to go to an appointment so I check my phone while I’m waiting to leave. Or I notice I have a few minutes before the dryer gets done so I spend that time checking my phone. There are always little tasks that can be completed even if you have a small window of time.
Maybe you’re like me, though, and there are bigger tasks to complete. However you just pick up your phone for a minute to check in and then realize an hour has gone by. By asking myself what I should be doing instead of picking up my phone, I’m better able to redirect my attention and can get to work on what needs to be done.
Take a Sabbath from your phone
For the last couple of weeks, I have been intentionally trying to observe a true Sabbath time each Sunday. I try to get all my work done before Sunday so all I have to do is go to church and then relax and recharge for the rest of the day.
One aspect of observing the Sabbath is intentionally staying off of my phone as much as I can. I try to limit my total time on the phone to under an hour. Surprisingly it has not been as hard to do that as I thought it would be.
If you’re struggling to keep your phone usage under control, then consider taking a break from it. Put it in a place out of the way and find other things to do that recharge and energize you instead.
It seems impossible that we can shake the habit of checking our cell phones all the time. But I’m living proof that it can be and it can be life changing.