I would love to say that my smartphone use is completely under control, but that would be a bold-faced lie. While I’m much more conscious of the times that I might get distracted, the temptation to look at my phone still persists. It’s just so darn easy to pick up my phone and mindlessly scroll through Twitter while I’m sitting at the kitchen table having a snack. That being said, it’s definitely not the ideal way to spend that time and could be significantly improved.
My vision for how I would rather be living looks a little different from what is actually happening now. I imagine myself only using my phone, social media, and email for about an hour per day total. Every day at the same time I sit down, maybe around 2 pm, and spend an hour scheduling social media, checking up on friends, writing and replying to emails. Then I put my phone away and go about my life, writing, making videos, playing piano, and working.
I know that it can be difficult to create boundaries with our technology, but it’s doable and so incredibly beneficial. There are three key places where putting down the smartphone makes a ton of sense. Science even backs me up on this one, at least for most of it. With that in mind, the three places smartphones should be put away are the:
There are many things that happen at the kitchen table but the most common thing — at least should be — eating. First of all, there is significant evidence that distracted eating is horrible for us. When we use our phones at the table, especially while eating, we’re paying less attention to the food we’re consuming. That means we enjoy our food less, we tend to overeat, and consequently not even remember what we ate. Turns out, having a strong memory of eating leads to less snacking later on after the meal.
None of this is even considering whether there is another human being at the table. It’s been shown that spending time together while eating has incredibly positive benefits, and if our attention is given to a smartphone or TV, it’s simply not the same. This is when we should be spending time with our family, friends, whether over food or not. If you’re flying solo, take the time to eat mindfully, enjoy and appreciate the food. The phone takes us away from enjoying what’s in front of us.
As a part of my recently discussed morning routine I decided that I wouldn’t use my phone for the first hour of every day. Previously, I did this: wake up, mindlessly scroll through emails, news, and social media until rolling out of bed maybe 20 minutes later. Later in the day, I’d realize I had deleted something that I’d actually need to respond to or deal with.
When we wake up, we’re setting the tone for the entire day. It’s where the phrase ‘waking up on the wrong side of the bed‘ comes from, right? Why allow extraneous information and external consequences outside of our control to affect our mood and excitement for the day to come. Wake up, do your routine, start the day strong. You can deal with whatever lies on the other end of the glowing screen once you’re up and ready for the day.
The bed is a sacred place and must be treated as such. Study after study has proven that sleep is practically a performance enhancing drug. Whether or not you believe it, the blue spectrum light from tablets and smartphones actually messes with our ability to fall asleep, and in fact, might be killing us.
Glowing screens don’t belong in bed, pretty much ever. Read a book, talk to your spouse or partner, or perhaps consider the vastness of the universe.
Did you know that a googolplex is not only a real number, but in fact a number so big that if every grain of sand on Earth were a whole other Earth full of grains of sand, there would still be less than a googolplex grains of sand in that whole situation? Think about that for a minute.
I’m not going to do any googling to give scientific data for this one, but stay with me here. Often, a bathroom break is one of the few times we get to walk away from our desks, our computers and zone out for a minute. I think we have this fear of what will happen if we allow our minds to be bored. That twitch to pull out our phones the second we sit down? That’s our mind just triggering the habit of constantly being entertained, stimulated and occupied.
There is a reason that we tend to think of odd ideas or solve various problems while in the shower (literally called shower thoughts). It’s because our phones can’t come in there with us yet, and goodness help us when they finally can.
We need to stare at the wall more, wonder why that one tile is out of order from all the rest, and just notice things in general. I never thought I’d be advocating for mindfulness during bathroom breaks, but it really does make a ton of sense. Plus, there actually is evidence that sitting on the toilet too long does all kinds of bad things, but I’ll let you Google-fu that yourself if you’re interested.
To be clear…
The world isn’t going to end if you do in fact use your phone in any of these places, but life is going to get better if you don’t. You can count on being a little more mindful, a little healthier, and find more satisfaction from the time spent at the table, in bed and well, I suppose in the bathroom too.
Have you banned smartphone use in any particular ‘zones’ of your house? If so, where?
Post image from Minimography.com.