- Posted by Peter McHugh
- On April 24, 2019
How to stay sane and get a day’s worth of time back
I love my iPhone, and I bet you love yours, too. These little pocket miracles allow us to do incredible things. We use them for almost everything in our life. But, as Uncle Ben from The Amazing Spiderman says, “With great power, comes even greater responsibility.” It’s been a decade since we welcomed these little internet machines into our lives and they’ve morphed into an actual extension of our bodies. Many people don’t leave their phones more than an arm’s length from their body, 24/7.
It may seem that we’re addicted to our phones because we’re on them too much, but it wasn’t until the new operating system updated a while back and gave us all the screen time app that I realized we’re not addicted to our phones; we’re just unconsciously using them.
Let me give you an example.
When I checked my stats after the first day of use with the app installed, it tracked that I had picked up and opened my phone over 160 times in one day! ONE-HUNDRED and SIXTY instances of completing a physical activity and I couldn’t accurately recount one of them! Nevermind trying to remember why I opened my phone in the first place.
Why does this happen? When we take a passive approach to our daily life and fall into whatever happens next, we’re living in a state of “reaction,” rather than “action.” More plainly, we’re just waiting for things to happen and dealing with whatever happens because we don’t have a plan of our own.
How much time are we spending?
During my first week using the app to track my screen time, I averaged 3.5 hours per day. It doesn’t sound that bad because, after all, I use my phone for phone calls, messaging, social media, YouTube, and email. That’s a lot of stuff that I’m getting done, so three-ish hours isn’t that bad.
It’s not until you multiply that by 7 days and get 24.5 hours of screen time a week that it becomes hard to swallow.
In other words, for 1 full day out of a total of 7, you are scrolling through your phone. You now have a 6-day week (yikes!).
How many times do you run around feeling rushed and wishing there was more time in the day? Without even realizing it, you’ve spent an entire day’s worth of time looking at your phone, often unconsciously.
This article isn’t at all about giving up your phone, because I genuinely believe the cell phone is the greatest invention of an era and incredibly useful for managing modern life. But, I do want to point out that for one day a week your face is staring blankly at your phone. So when you feel stressed out or exhausted about not having enough time in the day to be successful, you can look at this and smile, because you’ll realize that there is more than enough time. Let’s face it — you’ve already carved out a full day to play with your cell phone.
Don’t be Reactionary Larry
Let’s compound the fact that you weren’t present, aware, or conscious for the majority of those hours spent on your phone. When you are acting mindlessly, you are approaching life in a reactionary state. Being reactive means that you’re at the whim of the very next post, topic, email or phone call and whatever it may be is going to determine your emotions, attitude, and energy for the rest of your day. All it takes is seeing a post of an old friend, an ex-colleague or a news headline to hijack your thoughts and shove you directly down the rabbit hole. All of this happens in your mind, while in real life you’re just waking up, brewing your morning coffee or waiting for a client meeting to start.
Why do we live in this state of reaction? Why are we so passive about allowing the onslaught of media and content we can’t control rule our days and weeks?
Don’t stop using your phone. Just make sure that when you do use it, you’re doing it intentionally to accomplish something. If you’re going to open your phone to scroll through Instagram, then do it, but be present while doing it. The point here is to take control of your emotional state and avoid falling down the social media crapshoot.
Stay out of The Rabbit Hole and avoid “Scroll Thumb!”
Pay attention only to those things that make you feel good. We naturally give more attention to the negative things that affect us and less attention to the good things that happen. Strange right? Well, we have an instinctual need to compare ourselves, judge ourselves and others, to get validation on who we are and to find out what we’re worth. It turns out, that need is just our ego, and our ego is a devious instigator who likes to rile up our emotions.
When you’re scrolling a social feed unintentionally, it’s easy to fall into the never-ending rabbit hole of negative thought and judgmental emotions. As I said before, it just takes one photo or comment to set you off emotionally, and it’s almost like you’re thirsty for it. For some reason, we yearn for that personal shock factor to help us feel relevant or to acknowledge that we have a sob story, too. We all have it tough in one way or another. The human experience is not an easy one. So why do we allow ourselves to ingest all of this noise that can seriously take control of our mood, feelings, relationships, and energy? The truth is, we aren’t choosing to let this happen consciously, but it is our choice to make a conscious decision to change it.
Your mood doesn’t magically change when you close your phone. Once you’ve materialized negativity through your emotions, it can consume you. That is why it’s incredibly important to begin to view your phone simply as a tool to accomplish a task. That task could very well be for entertainment, and that’s fine, as long as that’s what you’ve planned to do.
Also, if you’re ever in physical pain, either hand cramping or you have a case of scroll thumb, this is a sign that you’ve been using your phone mindlessly. For the sake of our hands and thumbs, please practice intentionality with your phone and you’ll find that you’ll be less stressed and have less physical pain.