As summer comes to an end and we all get back into the daily grind, it’s important we ensure that we don’t become too dependent on our devices. Disable those push notifications, hide your phone during dinner, and keep your inbox in check, and you’ll have a happier, simpler life in no time.
Buy an alarm clock
There’s a new invasive species attacking beds across North America, causing restlessness and insomnia in its wake. The intruder? Cell phones. According to scientists from the Harvard Medical School, cell phones produce specific light wavelengths that can suppress melatonin, the hormone in your brain that helps you fall asleep. With so many of us using our smart phones as alarm clocks, our buzzing iPhones are just an arms-length away from our pillows. For a better night’s sleep, get a proper, old-fashioned alarm clock and keep your phone hidden in a drawer across the room where it won’t disturb you throughout the night. For those of us who have incorporated checking Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram into our bedtime routine, it will be tough to ditch the phone at first. But keep at it and you’ll be falling asleep faster than ever soon enough.
Go device-free at dinner
Smart phones seem to have found a permanent place setting at the dinner table, becoming as ubiquitous as cutlery. We’re constantly Instagramming our quinoa salads, writing emails, and tweeting our whereabouts when we really should be savouring our meals and enjoying the company of those around us. In fact, a new study from researchers at Virginia Tech found that even just having a cell phone on the table while eating lowers the quality of conversation. Along with missing facial expressions and changes in tone, individuals preoccupied with cell phones were less likely to show empathy and make eye contact. Make dinners a device-free zone—no checking emails or Googling obscure trivia to prove a point—and instead focus on those eating with you.
Disable push notifications
If your phone is always pinging and buzzing, it’s time to disable push notifications before it ruins your relationship. New research from Joseph Grenny, the author of The New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations, found that a quarter of people say EIDS (Electronic Displays of Insensitivity, such as interrupting a conversation to respond to a text message), have caused serious rifts with friends or family members. Disabling push notifications from social media apps will result in fewer disruptions throughout your day, to the benefit of your relationships, and your work ethic—we all know that checking that one unread Facebook message will lead to mindlessly scrolling through your phone before even realizing 30-minutes has passed.
Create an online-free zone
You know that feeling when you think you hear your phone vibrate, but upon checking it you realize it was a false alarm? It’s called Phantom Vibration Syndrome, a very real sensation that’s a surefire symptom of smartphone addiction. Before your dependency (or addiction) to your smartphone gets completely out of control, create an online-free zone in your life. For instance, ban all devices from the bedroom, or make a pledge to keep your phone tucked away during your walk to work and while you grocery shop. From there, you can add online-free times to your schedule. In the morning, go through your full routine before checking any device, and at lunch, step away from the computer. In the evening, give yourself a digital curfew.