12 ways to spend less time on your phone this year

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There's literally nothing worse than meeting up with a friend, family member or date, just to watch them glare at their phone every few minutes.

Granted, things come up and emergencies happen, but every day isn't an emergency and every notification, email or text doesn't require immediate attention.

A lot of people talk about using their phone less and socializing more but what does that actually look like in practice? After working in tech, remotely and for myself, I am no stranger to feeling like I need technology to survive, I mean, it's how I make a living!

Consider this a how-to guide on creating better boundaries with technology and creating healthier habits with social media. These are twelve simple habits that helped me create a better relationship with my peers, instead of my phone.

 

Identify your distractions and write them down

Write down your priorities on a piece of paper. Grab another sheet of paper and start to list out where you spend your time. This should include what time you wake up, commute time, and other small details.

By identifying where you're wasting your time, it's easier to decide how you will take action on riding some of your habits.

 

Use this tool to block distracting websites and apps

I think most people will say they find themselves distracted sometimes due to technology. Whether it's your phone, computer, or tablet, here are a few ways to tackle this issue.

If you have a hard time not using certain websites, try using the app SelfControl. It's a free app for your computer that can block certain or all websites for a certain amount of time. Alternatively, there's an app called Freedom you can use that does the same thing. It exists for mobile phones, tablets, and computers.

One more note on helpful apps, I like to use an app called Flux. It adjusts the brightness and temperature of your computer to match your environment which can be helpful for avoiding harsh lighting that can affect your mood or sleep.

If you like wearables, you can look into Swanwick Blue Light Blocking Glasses to use as the day progresses to better sleep. I have a pair!

After using SelfControl for just a few days, I found it easier to naturally avoid distracting sites.


Delete distracting apps from your computer and phone

Another thing I like to do is identify time-wasting apps on my iPhone or iPad and just delete them. 

There's isn't a reason why I'd need the same app on all devices and some things don't need to be easily accessible on all of my devices.

If you notice yourself losing time to certain apps on your phone, just delete them! You create your own boundaries.

For example, because I need Facebook on my phone in order to use Facebook Live, I keep Facebook on my phone from Monday to Friday. On Fridays, after I finish my live video, I'll delete the app off of my phone and re-download it Monday morning before my live stream. I also log out of Facebook on my laptop.

These two steps are easy ways I avoid Facebook on the weekends.


Change your background to important reminders

Sometimes what I do is I'll make a list of to-do items or a shopping list and I'll make it the background of my phone. This allows me to click the home button and instantly be reminded of my to-do items without opening and scrolling through my phone avoiding potential distractions.

I also take a few moments to delete any apps that I haven't used for a while during this time.


Backup, update, and clear your phone regularly

Because I work online and on social media, I use my phone a ton of photography. This makes my phone storage fill up often.

Each day, I've gotten into a better habit of taking one to two minutes to backup my phone, delete all of my photos from my phone and update the software.

This makes my job and work easier the next day by avoiding any phone troubles that come about when your storage is full. This also saves me a ton of time on frustration and Googling for a solution when I need it the most.

 

Clean phone and computer

Another simple healthy tech habit to develop this year is to regularly clean your devices. Our phones, computers, and tablets are exposed to tons of bacteria, especially if you use it for work.

I like to use tea tree oil and white vinegar on a microfiber towel to clean my devices.


Define your boundaries

I try to avoid technology after sunset, but sometimes it can be hard to follow through on this.

It's important to be flexible but to create your own boundaries when it comes to technology. Maybe, you don't touch your phone until after you watch the sunrise. Or maybe you want to avoid social media until after work. Anything is possible and acceptable.


Consider leaving your phone in your bag or face down when with friends

Something I adapted years ago was placing my phone face down when around friends. Ideally, when socializing, I keep my phone completely out of sight, but if it's on a table or counter top, I just face it down. It's out of respect.

The reason is simple, I don't need to look at my phone every-time I get a notification if I went out of my way to hang out with someone. I can look at my phone later, end of story.


Place your phone on do not disturb

I also enjoy leaving my phone not just on silent, but on do not disturb. Unless I'm expecting a call or need to be notified about a text, my phone is almost always on do not disturb.

Working in marketing, online and remote, there's only so much focus you have from distraction.


Turn off push notifications

If keeping your phone on do not disturb isn't an option, consider customizing which push notifications you keep on. I think push notifications are unnecessary for most people. They're just a distraction. I said it! So be selective.

 

If you’re on vacation and want to take photos, consider carrying a camera instead

When I go on vacation, I rarely have my phone on me. Instead what I do is I carry my Sonya5100 light mirrorless camera to take photos instead. It helps me stay in the moment, while still capturing a snap or two along the way.

 

Not everything needs to be documented and that’s ok

Something I'm happy I shared with my friends that I've traveled with is my true opinion on documenting things.

I love photography and I love social media, but life is too short to experience precious moments through a lens. Some of my most precious moments, months and years of my life don't have a single photo to serve as proof that it happened and that's ok.

Twelve ways to create better habits and spend less time on your phone in 2017.

Twelve ways to create better habits and spend less time on your phone in 2017.

 

How are you creating better habits with technology and social media? Comment below.