Smartphone Addiction: This is How I Stay Focused

Smartphones are extremely powerful but they can have devastatingly adverse effects on productivity.

The problem is that these devices are loaded with notifications, vibrations, sounds and banners all screaming for your attention.

Text Messages.

Phone Calls.

Emails.

Facebook.

Instagram.

YouTube.

Appointments.

News.

Dating Apps.?

I think you get the idea.

By default, all notifications and alerts are turned on so not only do you hear something, you also feel a vibration and your phone displays a Banner Notification on the home screen.

Sound, Touch and Sight all get activated.

That’s 3 out of your 5 senses.

No wonder our immediate reaction is to grab our phones!

Luckily our phones don’t emit the smell of french fries or cookies or else we’d be doomed.

Most of us already know deep down that we’re addicted to our phones but many of us don’t actually do anything about it.

The other issue is that if we get distracted, we don’t continue right where we left off.

It can take a while to regroup and regain your focus.

So a 2 minute distraction can actually turn into a 20 minute productivity derailment.

And considering we get several notifications per hour, this can lead to some pretty unproductive days.

I’m by no means perfect but I’ve implemented a few changes that have helped reduce my distractions.

A lot of what I’m about to lay out is based around the 4 Laws of Behavior Change from James Clear’s Atomic Habits book.

If you haven’t read this book, I strongly recommend that you do.

I enjoyed it so much that I read it 3 times…

Understanding this Bad Habit

We can agree that reaching for your phone after you hear/see/feel a notification is a bad habit.

So we need to break this bad habit, right?

Kind of.

It’s not that we want to break or even get rid of this habit.┬áThat’s almost impossible since your brain is wired to react.

You’d be relying on willpower to resist the temptation or urge to initiate this habit and honestly, we’re weak when it comes to this.

But there is something we can do and it has to do with the First Law of Behavior Change.

Rather, the inversion of the First Law.

Make it Invisible.

By deactivating the notifications in the first place, your brain won’t receive the initial cue to start that bad habit.

No notification, no distraction.

So for me personally, I keep my phone on silent for most of the day.

I also disable notifications for emails and apps.

No sounds. No banners. No vibrations.

I do keep banners on for text messages but since my phone is in silent mode, I don’t hear them.

I also don’t see them because I keep my phone face down behind my laptop where I can’t see the phone.

Seeing the phone also acts as a visual cue which leads to a craving to pick it up and start checking apps aimlessly to see if I missed anything.

This means that I check my phone on my time. Not when a notification tells me to.

This way, I can work on the task I have set out to accomplish free of distractions.

But Won’t I Miss Important Things? What if Something is Urgent?

Yeah, sure. But is everything critical?

No.

In fact, a very, VERY small percentage of notifications that you would get are time sensitive or critical.

There’s even a setting in your phone that allows you to pre-program a few phone numbers or contacts so when they call 2 times in a row, it will play your ringtone even if your phone is on silent.

Crisis averted!

No Phone in the Bedroom

This one is a biggie. So many people bring their phones to bed.

Scrolling through your Instagram feed is the new bedtime and wakeup ritual.

I keep my bedroom for relaxing and sleeping.

I keep my phone in the other room charging.

No Phone in the Morning

This one might not work for everyone but I don’t touch my phone until I’ve accomplished the first thing on my list for the day.

Sometimes this happens by 10am or sometimes it doesn’t happen until noon depending on the task.

Do I fail occasionally?

Of course.

But I’ve noticed a pattern.

On the days that I check my phone in the morning before completing my first task, I’m generally not satisfied with how my day went.

So I know that checking my phone sets the wrong tone for my day.

This experience helps me stick to this habit because the reward for not checking my phone is generally a productive day.

Summary

So wrapping this up, you can use the knowledge of habits to reduce your smartphone addiction. This is what I do:

  1. Deactivate all notifications, banners and vibrations
  2. Don’t bring your phone to bed
  3. Don’t check your phone first thing in the morning

Over to You

What sort of tactics or techniques are you using to fight smartphone addiction?

Do you disagree with anything I said?

I’d love to hear from you.

Andrew

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