Quick! What’s the first thing you do upon waking?
Snooze the alarm? (Guilty.) Check your messages? (Guilty.) Erm… Play a random TED-ED video explaining why Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” is effing brilliant? (Guilty. But hey, in my defense, that piece of classical music really is a masterpiece. Heck, I’m listening to it now while writing this.)
If you’re anything like me and you do all of the above once you open your eyes in the morning, I’m afraid you’re spending far too much time on your phone.
Let’s get this out of the way: smartphones are great. They pretty much combine mp3 players, mobile phones, cameras, calculators, and personal computers into one handy device. Short of using it to do household chores like cleaning a toilet or doing the laundry, there isn’t much your Apple or Android phone can’t do these days.
However, smartphone addiction is all too real, and it’s been observed to cause mental health issues among teenagers. It’s also been estimated that the average user reaches for their phone 110 times a day, making it all too easy for many of us to while the day away without being productive.
So, in the interest of welcoming the New Year with a new you, how can we effectively wean ourselves off our phones? Here’s how:
1. Use a real alarm clock.
Putting the snooze on your smartphone is a no-brainer since it’ll wake you up again a few minutes later. When you factor in how people tend to scroll through their feeds after rubbing the sleep from their eyes, frequent tardiness comes as no surprise, Filipino time or no.
Too many of us already wake up with our phone in our hands, so if you want to cut down on the tech overload, this would be the place to do it. Using a real alarm clock rather than your phone will not only save you from hating your favorite song, but it’ll get you out of bed in the mornings rather than keep you there.
2. Get rid of excess apps.
If you scroll through your phone right now, I bet you’ll find a lot of applications you barely even use. We can even argue that having the Facebook app on your phone is a bit much since who needs to check their personal account every fifteen minutes? (The Messenger app, of course, is a different story.)
Once you’ve removed a fair bit of time-wasting clutter on your phone, you’ll be less likely to give in to the urge to whip it out every so often.
3. Customize your notifications.
Living with smartphones has conditioned us to react to every pinging sound that our mobiles give off, so it’s pretty standard to fall into that vicious cycle of checking, commenting, and heaven-knows-what-else.
The good news is that you can disable in-app notifications via your main settings menu so that you don’t get notified each time one of your Facebook friends post a live video of, I don’t know, their dog pooping or something like that.
You can even take it further by assigning ringtones to your important contacts. These don’t just let you know if it’s your mum, girlfriend, or pizza delivery service calling, but they also clue you in on whether you should pick up the call immediately or simply let it ring.
4. Stop bringing your phone with you into the bathroom.
Did you know that you can cut down on toilet-squatting by 75% if you leave your phone outside? As a bonus, that also gives you a nice, quiet space that’s free of technology, so it’s a win-win!
Seriously, though, poop-covered phones are gross, so try bringing a magazine or reading the back of a shampoo bottle the next time you need to do a number two.
5. Refrain from looking at it during mealtimes.
Your phone, that is. The dining table used to be a sacred space where people would get together to discuss their day over some nourishment. Let’s bring that back, shall we?
And if you need more convincing, keeping your phone in your pocket at dinnertime reduces the risk of it getting splattered with spaghetti sauce, or worse, submerged in someone else’s glass of water.
6. Turn off your email when you don’t need it.
Hit “Settings,” go to mail, and then switch off the constant toggle of work emails once you’ve officially started the weekend. You won’t get notified, and no new emails will pop up in your inbox afterwards, although you can choose to apply this only to your work mailboxes in case you’re waiting to hear from the “hot singles in your area.”
Just don’t forget to turn the notifications back on once the weekend is over, alright?
7. Go off-grid on occasion.
Nipping off to the corner store for some instant noodles on a Sunday afternoon? Jonesing for a fifteen-minute walk to clear your head before going back to work?
Leave the phone at home or at the office then, mate. You won’t die, I promise. You might even find the experience rather freeing.
Smartphones aren’t inherently evil. They’ve made it easier for us to do a lot of things on the go (you can even send money on it, try our app!), and most importantly, they keep us connected to loved ones near and far.
Still, being on our phones too often and for too long can make us miss out on the things that actually make life worth living. Sure, killing it at Clash of Clans is awesome, but chatting face to face with your friends and family, sleeping well, and not worrying about how your life isn’t as picture-perfect as that #onfleek Instagram star’s seems to be is even better.