Let’s face it, the digital age is wondrous. Technology is continuing to develop at an exponential rate.
And with the evolution of the internet, social media and smartphones, we’ve never been more connected as a society. We can speak face-to-face to an old pal in Australia, drop our boss a quick note and grab ourselves a date – all within a few clicks of a button.
Sure, this means that there are many benefits of living in a digital world. However, there are also some downsides. (Black Mirror, anyone?)
As Matt Haig describes in his latest amazing book, “Notes on a Nervous Planet” (*), technology has a habit of over-cluttering our already-cluttered minds.
You see, our brain only has so much capacity. It finds it super difficult to handle multiple thoughts and ideas at once. Especially if you’re constantly jumping from one app to another, and not letting your brain truly focus on one thing.
That’s why it’s important to put your phone down sometimes for the sake of your mental health.
In fact, read on for 10 phone tips that will help you avoid information overload and successfully live a life that doesn’t rely on technology.
1. Don’t Feel Like You Always Have to be There
Firstly, is anyone else as rubbish at replying to texts, Snapchats and WhatsApps as I am?
And then do you also get certain members of your tribe yelling at you because you haven’t got back to them in weeks and they’re worried that you’ve forgotten they exist?
If so, don’t worry. In Matt Haig’s new book, he explains how we don’t need to succumb to the pressure of responding to phone messages instantly. He says that we should choose not to feel that obligation and simply let them wait.
Why? Well, if your loved ones truly care about you, they’ll be understanding of your busy lifestyle. And they’ll trust that you’ll get back to them eventually.
2. Turn Off Your Notifications
Speaking of the pressure to respond instantly, this mostly comes from the influx of phone notifications we receive on a daily basis.
That’s why you should just switch them off if you need to. Especially if you’re in a work meeting, trying to help your mate move house without interruptions or just sick of all the pinging.
Personally, I’ve done this several times with Twitter and Instagram and it’s so refreshing to feel like you’re not being distracted all the time.
Why not try it for yourself?
3. Limit Phone Time to Once a Day
Additionally, I’ve only been going on social media and answering messages just once a day for the last 12 months.
In fact, I have 30 minutes of “phone time” every night. And that’s it.
And do you know what? It feels great. I no longer feel like I’m overwhelmed with phone activities or on my phone too much.
If you want to take a leaf out of my book, start limiting the amount of time you’re on your phone every day – and you’re bound to live a simpler, happier life.
4. Don’t Be On Your Phone Right Before You Go to Sleep
Phone tips 101: I understand that a lot of us use our phones as an alarm, but try not to be on your phone right before you go to sleep.
Sure, I used to be guilty of doing this. However, I stopped when I learned that the blue light emitted from our phones can mess with our sleep melatonin levels.
The result? It keeps us awake for longer and lowers the quality of our sleep. And that’s not ideal when we need sleep to function as human beings!
5. Stop Multitasking On Your Phone
As I mentioned before, our brain can only work optimally at a certain capacity and constant multitasking can overload it.
In fact, multitasking can also make you lose focus and increase your stress levels. And who wants that?
Instead of jumping from one app to another all the time, make mono-tasking your new best friend.
What’s mono-tasking, you ask? Well, it means focusing on one thing (or one app) at one time. And it’s revolutionary.
6. Don’t Look At Your Phone When You First Wake Up
If you want to avoid feeling in demand and start your day feeling refreshed instead, don’t check your notifications as soon as you wake up.
I know most of us scroll through Facebook first thing in the morning like the daily newspaper. That said, by doing this, you’re setting your mind up to be cluttered before you’ve even had your breakfast coffee.
Instead, de-cleanse yourself from the phone bug before you start your day and only check your phone during your designated phone time.
And you’ll be amazed at how much this helps your mental health.
7. Be Present At Social Events
Okay, hands up – how many people are guilty of being on their phones when they’re supposed to be socialising with their friend/family member/colleague? (Delete as applicable.)
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re checking on the progress of your sick Aunt, that’s a bit different. However, if you’re scrolling through social media purely to see what’s going on? Shame on you!
I know we’ve all done it, but try to make a conscious effort to stop giving your phone more attention than the people you’re supposed to be spending time with.
I mean, you can go on your phone during phone time later. But you don’t have as many opportunities to socialise in person with the ones you love. Think about it.
8. Remember That Our Ancestors Coped With Being Phone-Free So We Can Too
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we all functioned perfectly fine as a society before phones and technology rocked our world.
To put it bluntly: having a phone in our pocket is not the be-all and end-all.
And it’s important to remind yourself of this when you’re crying into your cocktail because your phone died before you had chance to take photos of you and your friends on a night out. Or when you’re having a strop at work because you left your phone at home and you won’t be able to check Facebook in your lunch hour.
(Been there, done that, got the T-shirt…)
9. Indulge in Regular Digital Detoxes
Now, I know we’ve talked about being phone-free for most of the day, but what if you were phone-free for longer periods of time?
Whether you have one on a week-long holiday or just a weekend getaway for your pal’s hen do, a regular digital detox is paramount for our sanity in this era.
It just makes you feel so at ease knowing that you don’t have a phone to deal with.
Sure, it’s a more simplistic lifestyle, but sometimes you just need a bit of calm in your life so that you’re prepared to deal with the especially hectic times. Right?
10. Keep In Mind That Your Phone is an Inanimate Object
Last of my phone tips but certainly not least: don’t forget that your phone is just an object at the end of the day. It can’t hug you hello or listen or give you advice on your problems like a human can.
One of the best phone tips from Matt Haig’s book is not to bother talking to your phone or swearing at it when you’re angry. And avoid throwing it across the room.
Why? Because it honestly won’t know what on earth you’re doing.
Instead, put your phone into perspective and remember that it’s just a phone at the end of the day. A useful tool, perhaps, but it doesn’t really hold any value in the grand scheme of life.
It’s the people around us who matter, not inanimate objects.
Phone Tips for the Digital Age
There are many wonderful things about technology. Having said that, there are also some not-so-wonderful things about it too.
In this day and age, it’s easy to let your phone rule your life. Even if you’re a person who doesn’t exactly need phone tips, sometimes we all need to remember to put down our phones to stay more connected to society, and to offline life.