Ah, modern day life and the cell phone. It seems like the two are completely intertwined, so much so that our phone is often the first thing we reach for when we wake up and the last thing we look at before we go to sleep. As a busy business owner being overly attached to the phone is a constant struggle – there are emails to reply to, social media comments to make, candid on-the-go photos to take and so much more!

Studies from ivy league universities around the world are discovering a direct correlation between cell phone use (read: addiction) and depression or anxiety, which is alarming to say the least. Over the past few months I’ve been actively experimenting with diminishing my cell phone time without impacting my work productivity and here’s what I’ve found.

HOW TO STOP YOUR PHONE FROM TAKING OVER YOUR LIFE

1. HAVE A CLEAR COMMUNICATION CHANNEL FOR WORK
Are you talking to too many people in too many ways? For example, do you answer Instagram Dms, Facebook messages, emails, texts and phone calls about work inquiries? If the answer is yes, most of that requires you to be on the cell phone and you probably feel like your head is going to explode.

What I do is redirect the avenues of communication. This means if someone messages me on social media about my rates, for example, I write back with a quick thank you, my email address and an invitation to connect with me through my inbox. From there the conversation is searchable, archived and we can schedule meetings or a formal call as needed.

This keeps communication organized, direct and confined to ‘computer time’ vs ‘phone time.’ Email becomes the priority and all those other messaging apps I get to more leisurely with scheduled social media time in my day.

2. GET A LANDLINE
A what? Yes, I know. It is archaic. In fact when I went hunting for a phone to physically plug into the wall the only model I could find was the kind that had huge oversized buttons intended for seniors who are losing their sight (for real!) The reason I personally adore my fuddy-duddy landline is because it is designated exclusively for the studio.

That’s right, I have an exclusive work-only number.* If I worked for somebody else, I would have a work phone, so I’ve given myself the same luxury. The majority of my work calls are scheduled and happen on the work line. When I leave the studio to go home for the evening, work stays at work and I check my messages in the morning. Thus I free up cell phone time.*

{I’m always reminded of this Friend’s moment with Phoebe when I talk about this. If you want your cell phone to be less busy, take some of the workload off of it!}

* You could always get a second cell phone just for work too if you aren’t into the landline idea — but leave it at work.

** Full disclosure: Of course, I still do have phone calls on my cell with clients I’m working with, but the majority take place on my work line.

3. OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
If there is a bar of chocolate sitting on my desk, staring at me, calling to me all day, you bet I’m going to have that thing destroyed before lunchtime. I can’t help myself! The same is true of cell phones. If I see it out, I tend to pick it up and scroll on autopilot. The solution? When it’s time to be offline, I throw my cell phone in a drawer.

You’d be surprised how not seeing it changes your behaviour. Give it a few days for the practice to sink in. Typically when I’m home or once I’ve made plans for the evening, I toss the phone in a drawer before dinner, maybe check it once a few hours later and leave it be. Suddenly my evening is unplugged and far more relaxing.

“But what if somebody emails you with a work question?” I’m often asked. My reply, “I’ll get back to them first thing in the morning when the work day starts up again.”

Consider hiding your phone on yourself for a couple of hours, even during the workday if you’re mid-project. Out of sight, out of mind really works.

4. PURSUE OFFLINE ACTIVITIES
It’s easy to settle down into an Instagram rabbit hole or Pinterest tour with our phones. We may even call it ‘down time’ to ourselves, but the fact of the matter is that the tiny little device in our hands is still eating away the minutes of our lives!

Instead consider pursing offline activities for truer down time. While that cell is chilling in that trusty old drawer I mentioned before, play a sport, paint, hang out with friends (no phones allowed), workout or – one of my personal favourites – indulge in an extravagant bath. I mean, is there anything better really? I adore Bathorium’s slow release bath bombs because they are ethically produced, Canadian, toxic free and dress up a bath beautifully. Plus, bonus, a cell phone can’t really come in the tub with you lest you drop it into the water!

By training myself (yes, training, because detaching from the cell is a process) to look forward to my offline activities, I found that I craved my cell phone less and less.

5. PUT YOUR PHONE ON SILENT
This is such a simple trick – just put your cell phone on silent. Not vibrate – SILENT! Take out that incessant beeping and dinging sound that it makes all day long and enjoy some peace and quiet instead. If you don’t hear it go, you lose a little bit of that urge to check it immediately to find out what beeped in the first place.

MY EXPERIENCE SO FAR?

Having worked the above five strategies into my life I’ve noticed that I’m calmer, less stressed and that my productivity has seen a significant boost! I’m not a scientist, but I would bet that reducing my cell phone time and changing my cell phone habits is the reason for my clearer state of mind. (Oh, and for the record, I still have days where I’m on the cell entirely too much while simultaneously eating an entire box of chocolates, because let’s face it, I’ve forgotten to put both items out of sight out of mind, and I’m human and that’s okay!)

Is cutting cell phone time something you’re working on? What tips do you have? I would love to hear!

 

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