Technology / Business technology

Are you a phone addict? Here’s what to do

Our phones help us feel connected to the world – no one disputes this. But when that constant connection fuels a phone addiction, it’s time to take action.

16 May 2016 by

It’s great to be connected. But to be a phone addict? Not so great.

After one too many nights spent alongside my partner where we were both on our phones in ‘scrolly-scroll’ mode, I knew it was time for an overhaul.

I’ve written before about the power I’d yielded to Facebook, and how losing my iPhone made me get a life, but a year later my relationship with the device remains problematic. My experience with technology is that it makes a wonderful slave, but a terrible master. My most recent wake-up call came courtesy of my eight-year-old when she exclaimed: “You are always on the phone!!”

But it gets worse. When I started critically analysing my personal usage, it didn’t take me long to see how my partner also tended to be over-tethered. I realised on some evenings, we’d barely say two words to another. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in disengagement between us.

"I used to love reading but since becoming an iPhone addict, would devote no attention to books "

Before addressing this, however, I needed to exert willpower over my situation first. Here’s what I did.

Put the iPhone to ‘bed’

Before, I could spend entire evenings attached to a device, especially to social media, which is designed to make it hard to put down the phone. Now, half an hour after the kids are asleep, I take the phone to the kitchen and plug it in overnight. This gives me a brief window of time online, but also puts a firm deadline on when that window closes.

Went from digital to analogue

With the phone safely in another room, I get stuck into a book. A physical thing with pages and everything. I used to love reading but since becoming an iPhone addict would devote no attention to books. Sticking with the boring bits, following a story from A to B, engaging with the author … all of these are skills the online world doesn’t cultivate. I’m loving flexing my reading muscle again.

Got an old school alarm clock

For years I’d use the phone as an alarm, which means I’d sleep with it beside the bed (along with 62% of survey respondents). This meant time on the phone would begin from the moment I opened my eyes.

I decided to stop being okay with that.

The purchase of an old school alarm clock was a game changer. Because I love me a bit of cognitive dissonance, I shared my pledge to get the iPhone out of the bedroom* on Facebook under the hashtag #lessscreentime and a friend remarked:

“I just read your post after my iPhone alarm clock has gone off! I picked up my phone & checked FB which is pretty standard. The thought even went through my mind, “I don’t think that this is the best thing to do upon waking”. I need to buy an alarm clock!”

Yes, you do, my friend, yes you do.

Turned into a judgemental ratbag

Fuelled by the righteous zest of a born again, I’d make snipy comments to Johnno like “haven’t you finished the internet yet?” or call him Gollum and the phone ‘The Precious’. Then one night I snatched his phone and hid it, and forced him to play backgammon. Nowadays he’s on board with the ‘phone in the kitchen from 8pm’ idea, but it took a conscious effort to break the habit. It probably helps that he’s really good at backgammon.

Notwithstanding the tone of this piece, I think it’s incredibly important to talk about the way we use technology. I find myself wondering that just because we can, it doesn’t mean we should. I have broken a FS hiatus to add my voice to the many articles I’ve noticed popping up (online of course!) on this topic. I’d love to think as a society we are mature enough to collectively explore how to be technology’s master and not its servant.

Do you have a healthy relationship with technology? Tell me about it and I’ll come down from my high horse to have a read.

 

*Also phones in the bathroom? ALL THE NO’S!

Sam Leader

is a director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

Comments

  • I’m such a slave to my phone.

    A KonMari declutter in March found me driven to declutter digitally too. So I deactivated FB for 8wks without a second account for my business page -and I’m ready to delete my FB account & business page. I feel that this FB cleanse is bringing me one step closer to digital freedom.

    Love your idea of getting an old school alarm clock & phones in the kitchen from 8pm. Thanks for sharing that tip Sam.

    • Thanks for your comment, Merryn. Such a good point to remember to declutter digitally! I love the sound of digital freedom. Good luck with the alarm clock/phones in the kitchen strategy.

100,854 people use Flying Solo to help them create a business with life. Do you?

Connect with Flying Solo

Explore the benefits of membership