How to fight back against digital passivity

"If we want to become more productive or more creative, we need to start putting away our phones more," notes our guest editor, Simon Sinek.

In this article you will learn:

  • How many times we touch our smartphones each day.
  • Tactics to manage our smartphone usage.
  • The number of days it takes to make or break a habit.

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As Simon points out, there are very few moments in any given day when we are without our smartphones. In the shower, falling to sleep, going for a run - you could probably count them on one hand. This addiction to our smartphones is having a profound impact on brains.

According to one study, the typical smartphone user touches their device 2,617 times a day, with the top 10 per cent of people doing so more than 5,400 times. While there are many benefits to the devices embedding themselves within our daily lives, the public is now increasingly aware of their negative effects on creativity, productivity and our mental wellbeing.

On the recent teaser episode for series two of our self-improvement podcast, Live.Life.Better., host Melissa Hemsley discussed how we can bring a stop to smartphones dictating our lives with Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips - authors of Self-Care For The Real World. One simple way to begin, argues Katia, is to introduce a curfew.

"I’ve turned my notifications off and try not to go to my phone at night. However when you’re self-employed it’s funny as you have a tendency to get home and do your emails, or do it in the day when you’re on the go so you don’t have to do it at all at home. It’s not the same as having regular office hours; you have to be pretty disciplined about your time on the phone," explains Katia.

"We need to get away from the hashtag-look-at-the-smoothie-I-just-drank thing… we’d advise people to go for a walk without your phone and really take it all in, listen to the trees, listen to everything around you. It’s about being present," says Nadia.

However, as Melissa points out, for many people the idea of going for a walk and not taking the phone out of their pocket is a difficult one. For those of us used to constantly being on our smartphones, it’s not unrealistic to become a little panicked at the thought of some time away from the device.

"Everything is difficult if it’s new, especially if you’re used to doing things a certain way," notes Nadia. "Like not putting your headphones in, turning on music and being distracted - everything is a bit more challenging the first few times. It does take practice and it’s scientifically proven to help your state of mind to not always be plugged in. So try it, see what happens.

"As we say in the book, it takes 40 days to change a habit. So if there’s something you really want to do, you need to stick to it. Mine was not going on my phone first thing in the morning, so I try and give myself at least half an hour where I have my tea, eat my breakfast and get my stuff done before going to the phone. There’s nothing that can’t wait half an hour. There’s no major emergency that can’t be solved within half an hour, but it is hard at first. I was addicted to checking my phone upon waking - but after practice it’s become part of my routine."

For more self-improvement tips and advice, head over to the Live.Life.Better. homepage or subscribe on iTunes.


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