[Photo credit: mizoguchi.coji]
Phones now have the capacity to do so much that you can even run a business from them. You have access to more news, information and people than ever before. However, they can be addictive and that addiction can be unhealthy and dangerous. With the increasing capacity of phones to do more and more, I believe now, more than ever, there needs to be a greater emphasis on promoting phone/life balance.
Each time your phone beeps with a notification, it breaks your attention ... leading to poor mental clarity and reduced creativity.
It’s amazing how far the simple telephone has come. During the recent school holidays, we were in the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, laughing at the old phones our grandparents had when we were kids. As a child, I remember being excited to ring someone on my grandparents’ phone. The phone they had was one of the ones where you used your finger to turn the dial. It was attached by cord to the wall and the thought of carrying a phone with you in your pocket was space-age.
Now, not only can you carry your phone with you, you can schedule your life, run a business, and see people on the other side of the world while you talk to them in real time. It truly is amazing just how much the human race has developed technology in the past twenty years.
Having your phone on you and being able to pretty much do everything while on the move is great. It’s extremely convenient and allows you to have a lot of freedom. However, the curiosity to view notifications when they arrive and the desire to respond to them, as well as the capacity to access anything from music to the latest news, creates a clingy dependence on your phone and a sometimes dangerous relationship.
Times When You Should Keep Your Phone Beyond Arms Reach
- While Sleeping.
If you use your phone as an alarm clock as I do, keep it beyond arms reach so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. This will reduce the likelihood of hitting the snooze button in the morning. It will also reduce the impulse to use it when lying in bed. I actually put my phone on airplane mode when I go to sleep. I don’t want to be disturbed. Sleep is so super-important and I consider it non-negotiable ‘me’ time.
- When sitting on the couch.
Couches aren’t very good for your body - in particular your spine. Sitting on the couch is a luxury. Sitting or lying on the couch is nice when you just need to flop but couch-time should be kept to a minimum. If your phone is within arms reach, it makes it easy to get caught up scrolling through Facebook, checking emails, or playing games. This leads to spending more time on the couch than you need to. The more time you spend on the couch, the more time you spend in a position which is not good for your spine.
- At work.
If you have a job where you sit a lot, it can be beneficial to move your phone beyond arms reach. When it rings, receives a message, or a notification, the simple act of getting it will help you move more throughout the day. Remember, extended periods of time sitting is a contributor to obesity and other lifestyle diseases. The more you can get out of your chair and move around, the better.
- While driving.
Obviously, using your phone while driving is illegal. Have you seen the Mythbusters episode where they prove that it’s just as dangerous as drink driving? I suggest you check it out if you haven’t. Your brain is wired to seek and be curious. For some people, receiving notifications is too big of a temptation. They reach for their phone thinking it’ll just be a glance. As you know, circumstances can change in an instant on the road and ‘just checking’ your phone is never safe. The whole process of ‘just checking’ becomes much more dangerous when the notification, or message, appears seemingly important in that moment. With the evolution of voice control, it is now easier than ever to ask Siri, for example, to do things for you. Put your phone on the back seat and ask her instead.
- When doing anything that requires focus.
If you’re doing something that requires focus and attention, move your phone away. Each time your phone beeps with a notification, it breaks your attention. This leads to poor mental clarity, reduced creativity and increases stress and fatigue. When I write these blogs for example, I move my phone away to remove the temptation of accessing it. I also turn the notifications on my laptop off and now that I have an Apple Watch, I have to put that on airplane mode too. Technology is great and I love it, but gee whiz it can be a huge distraction.
Being a slave to your phone can cause an unhealthy and even dangerous addiction to it. Keep your phone beyond arms reach to help you sleep better, move more, sit less, keep safe and focus deeper.
What rules or etiquettes do you follow for your phone?
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