Do you often feel more compelled to give your attention to your phone than the person in front of you? Conditioned by being busy, we think we’ll get more done and be more productive if we just answer this, or respond to that when nothing could be further from the truth.
Constant distractions degrade the quality of our attention and it’s exhausting!
When you don’t treat your mind with the tender respect it deserves, not only do you destroy your ability to concentrate, your potential for real connection and creativity goes down the gurgler as well.
Yet we persist! We keep pushing through, prioritising technology over people, and training our crazy busy minds to be more distractible and hypervigilant.
Like Pavlov’s dog salivating at the bell, we respond to every text, call, or email, while unwittingly training other people to expect an immediate response.
Technology companies understand our ever-diminishing tolerance for boredom and design machines and products specifically to keep us connected. Getting a like on Facebook, amused by a tweet on Twitter, receiving a text from a friend, cleverly orchestrates another shot of our reward chemistry dopamine, which keeps us coming back for more.
While technology has its uses, many people underestimate the strong-hold their devices have on them. Poorly managed technology can be a huge attention suck, and nothing is as addictive as our phones. I left mine in an Uber recently and felt completely discombobulated. Not only did I have no way of getting home, but I also had no idea where I was supposed to be next. Thankfully, the driver returned it to me. I was so grateful I bought him a box of chocolates.
If you stop to think about it, your attention is your most important resource, and the only thing you have any control over. You cannot operate at your best when you cannot manage your attention, and our attention is finite. Constantly fracturing your attention by giving it to things that do not serve us comes at a cost.
That cost could be your child, your partner, or missing out on your life?
No, I’m not suggesting you get rid of your phone, but if you’re at all concerned about the amount of time you spend on your phone, or it’s getting in the way of your relationships, then it’s probably time to unhook.
Recently I’ve come across some intriguing and novel ways to break up with your smartphone, including equipment that blocks Wi-Fi and timed lockboxes that physically prevent you from accessing your device for set periods.
That we go to such extremes to break unhealthy tech habits speaks volumes. It is so easy to get addicted and so very hard to wean ourselves off.
One of the best ways to get back control over your attention is by practising mindfulness. The more aware you are of what you’re giving your attention to, the easier it is to unhook and choose behaviours that are aligned to what matters most.
Some useful habit hacks for cell phone addiction:
1. Avoid checking your phone first thing of a morning or last thing at night.
2. Turn off as many push notifications as you can.
3. Remove social media apps from your phone.
4. Use aeroplane mode or do not disturb during your peak performance times.
5. Don’t use your phone as your alarm clock. Charge it outside the bedroom.
6. Put your phone on greyscale to make it less appealing.
7. Place a rubber band around your phone to remind you not to check your phone out of boredom.
8. When working, put your phone in a drawer out of sight.
9. Leave your phone out of meetings – the temptation is just too great!