The neediest thing in my life isn’t a person – it’s my phone. It constantly demands my attention through push notifications and little red numbers on the top right corner of apps. My rude awakening came when I tracked how much time I spend on my phone. At my most distracted day I spent 7 hours on my phone. Which means that after factoring in 8 hours of sleep, I spent 50% of my day on my phone. And I don’t even remember what I was doing.
Things needed to change.
Being on the phone is so addicting because social media apps are literally only showing you articles, videos and memes that you like. It’s tough to put down the phone when a cute cat meme pops up on your newsfeed. But the distraction is costly. More time on my phone means less time to create & focus on more important and meaningful tasks.
Creating and contributing to projects makes people happy. So why do we sabotage ourselves by giving in to distractions? The reason is time-inconsistency – a behavioural economics principle that describes our lack of foresightedness. We do things in the present moment that we will regret in the future. So how do we overcome this insanely natural tendency? By taking a moment to notice and be present. The next time you’re on your phone and you realise that you’re almost falling down a spiral of mindless content consumption — take a deep breath and note how you’re feeling in that moment. If reading that article, watching that video isn’t giving you joy or adding value to your day put your phone down.
It’s hard and the first time is the hardest. What helps is thinking about the second & third order consequences of staying on your phone for any longer. Don’t let your natural tendencies sabotage your future happiness.
An easy way to start is by putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode for a few hours every day. Add all the important people in your life to your ‘Favourites’ list so that the phone will ring any time the call or text. All else is not important.
Next, divide your day into focus & rest periods. Numerous studies have shown that people are most productive when they focus in bursts and then fully rest in between focus periods. However, keeping track of the time is counterproductive so the best way to do this is to download a desktop app.
Ultimately, noticing distractions and slowly minimizing them to avoid temptations can vastly increase your productivity and even make you happier.
All you need to do is change the settings.