Updated March 1, 2018 . AmFam Team
Ever glance down at your phone and, before you know it, 20 minutes have passed? You’re not alone. From work emails, social media, reading the news and listening to music, it can often feel like you’re staring at a screen for the better part of every day. Needless to say, cutting back on aimless scrolling and funny cat videos is a common New Year's’ resolution for many people — but it’s not always an easy habit to break.
There are many reasons we spend so much time on our mobile devices. No matter what you’re doing, it’s all about making conscious choices and finding balance between your phone and the world you live in.
So why is it difficult to kick a technology dependence?
That’s what we asked Sarah Young, leadership development specialist at Zing Collaborative (Opens in a new tab), a firm that helps people and organizations realize their full potential. Her advice? You don’t have to completely cut yourself off from your smartphone in order to have a healthy relationship with technology.
“I don’t believe we need to break up with our phones,” explains Sarah. “Our phones, after all, allow us to connect with others and build and develop relationships.”
So what’s Sarah’s secret to striking that perfect balance?
“We need to consciously be in a relationship with our devices, which means being very intentional about when and how we are interacting with technology, and the purpose behind the interaction,” Sarah says. “I believe that the issue isn’t with using technology, but instead with mindlessly using it, or using it from a place of unconsciousness rather than consciousness.”
Here’s a few simple ideas and rules to consider when you’re planning a new, more attentive relationship with your phone. Take these to heart, and you’ll have some tools in place to combat the compulsion. More great ideas on rethinking your day can be found in our section on building a healthier you.
So how exactly does one stay mindful while using technology? Here are four simple ways to start.
Check in. Before impulsively reaching for your phone or automatically tapping your email or social media apps, stop and take a second to evaluate why. “Ask yourself, is there a clear purpose?” Sarah advises. “If not, consider setting the device aside.” For more advice on managing your online activity, take a look at our article on social media safety.
Contribute. Do ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling without engaging others or contributing to a discussion? “If we aren’t contributing or having a conversation with others through technology, it could be a sign that technology isn’t the right solution in that moment,” says Sarah.
Rethink the selfie. Instead of smiling into the camera for that perfect selfie, most of the time it’s best to put down your phone, look around, and take in the beauty around you. Sarah cites her last vacation as an example, explaining, “Many people were missing the beauty that was happening in real life because they were posing behind their cameras and selfie sticks.”
Consider a break. “Research shows that people who are happiest, healthiest and live the longest have routines that help to offset stress,” says Sarah. “We have the opportunity to do the same by incorporating little technology breaks throughout the week.” Designate time that you stay free of technology, like during a walk after work, reading before bed, or during your morning coffee.
So remember, the next time you’re feeling that itch to check your phone, stop and think if it’s really necessary. Airplane mode isn’t just for flying — it can help to put a little space between you and your phone. Setting it to airplane mode can give you the freedom you’ve been craving. And with all that extra time, explore the space around you, do what you love, and congratulate yourself on breaking the habit!
You can build a new model of interacting with the your phone by creating smarter, more mindful patterns every day. As you’re moving towards these new goals, take time to consider revising your policies with an American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab). Change can be a good thing. And adjusting your insurance to reflect your life today is important, too.