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Why You Should Reduce Phone-Time And How

by Chloe Lee |

I love my phone, and I appreciate how it is not only used for communication but can also be used as a navigation tool, for all sorts of fun entertainment, to learn and to capture memories. This gadget has made the lives of millions easier, and it allows us to work more effectively and efficiently, too. To a large extent, I need my phone. However, I realize that an over-dependence on this device has also left me restless and unfocused in other areas of my life.

1. It has affected my sleep

Maybe your grandmother was right about nagging you to stay off your phone because we are now seeing some adverse effects of over-relying on our beloved 6-inched high-tech mirrors. Firstly, studies have found that using your phones right before bedtime has affected our sleep. I found this to be very true, we might think that scrolling through 9gag at 2 am is going to help us fall asleep, but exposing your brain to stimuli at that hour is the equivalent of feeding a baby some grape juice, it leaves our head noodles on a sugar-high.

2. It has affected my ability to focus

This invention has made everything very convenient, too. If we needed to know the correct spelling of a word or if we are looking for the latest café to go to, or if we need inspiration for a party theme, done, done and done! However, when things get remotely difficult, I am unable to focus on the task because my brain is so used to fast outputs. It gets difficult to concentrate or focus on my work because my brain wants an easy way out (and then I am suddenly procrastinating and playing MapleStory M).

3. It has caused me agitation and irritation

Personally (and this was the main epiphany), I also found myself mindlessly swiping through pages after pages of content that wasn’t benefiting me. Sometimes I come home from work wanting to just let my mind go blank before I know it, I’ve been on the app for hours – not learning a single thing nor entertained by a single post. In fact, I feel agitated or irritated from being on the platform and this is because I am constantly comparing my life to those of others. Users are making very unrealistic comparisons to the seemingly glamorous lives of others, constantly worried about who is watching and what people think of us. Influencer or not, long hours on social media platforms have fostered anxiety for a lot of us.

As such, in pursuit of being more mindful and purposeful in all areas of my life, I decided that managing my screen-time would allow me to detox and be more aligned to what I hope to achieve on a personal and professional level. If you think you would like to have a better sense of control over your content-consumption and phone usage, here are a few things you can try:

The brick method

For one hour a day, think of your phone as a brick. You can adapt this and apply it based on your daily routines. For example, if you have a morning routine, leaving your phone untouched for an hour might freshen you up for the day. If you have trouble sleeping, try setting a cut-off time an hour before you intend to sleep and see if lower levels of exposure to random stimuli would help you rest better. Even when you are at work, sometimes you receive texts that are not essential or urgent, and by putting it away, you are allocating undivided attention to deliverables you need to complete.

Turn off notifications

For me, I use the “Do Not Disturb” mode that silences all notifications or calls from 10 pm to 7 am. I know that if the matter was urgent enough, they would have thought of different ways to reach me. You can also set automatic replies on how senders should expect delays and provide alternative ways to reach you (such as providing your landline/partner’s number for emergencies).

With work arrangements now being more and more flexible, people tend to work beyond standard 9 am-5 pm hours and you may receive requests at odd hours. However, you are under no obligation to urgently attend to their needs (unless it’s urgent) – you are allowed to relax. If you are a senior or manager at your company, it would also be helpful to realize that your messages/emails at odd hours might pressure your subordinates, even though that was not your intention. Instead, you can schedule the email replies for later or include a note saying that they are not expected to respond immediately.

Leave your phone behind

Especially at the dining table, enjoy the company of your friends or family and begin connecting with people in real life, not just virtually! Some people have also developed the habit of using their phones in the toilet, not only does it serve as a grooming ground for bacteria, but long periods of sitting on the toilet bowl might also lead to constipation or worse, haemorrhoids.

Delete and replace

Sometimes I take social media breaks and delete the Instagram app on my phone to detox (but I usually have to reinstall it because I am a content manager for a campaign). I feel like long hours on the app exposes me to a lot of social pressure, and suddenly I am whipping up a Dalgona coffee even though I hate coffee. On top of deleting the app, it is important to then replace it with healthier habits – I tried different hobbies and started reading more often, which I felt improved my mental well-being.

There is no denying that our phones have certainly made our lives easier, and social media applications have allowed us to connect to people thousands of miles away from us. However, if you feel lethargic from using your phone too much and feel like you are over-depending on it, perhaps it is a good time to take a step back and try releasing your grip on the device. The most important thing is to find a balance in everything we use or do.

You can learn more about the writer on Instagram.

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