I love having a smartphone. I’m old enough to remember the world before cell phones (even the flip phones!), and they make life easier in so many ways.
And yet. My phone is also a huge distraction and I can’t help but wonder: is it a net gain or a net loss to my life? I think it’s a net gain, but it all depends on how you use it.
How phones save time
Here are some ways I find my phone hugely beneficial:
- Texting is quicker than a call.
- I have quick access to information, including contact information.
- I always have something to read with me.
- I’m never without my calendar.
How phones waste time
- My phone can be a distraction from activities which move me toward my goals.
- My phone–and others’–can interrupt my thinking process and conversations.
- I have to pay attention to make sure my phone is charged.
- I turn to my phone for distraction when I have a few minutes instead using that time to think.
And of course, there are other benefits. I love music or audiobooks I can listen to in the car or elsewhere. I’m not a podcast listener, but I know many people love them. There are tons of apps that can benefit your life, from budgeting to exercise to, yes, prayer.
I want you to use your phone as a way to have a more meaningful life, not a less meaningful life.
Here are a few tips to consider:
- Make decisions about how you are going to use your phone. One example: I’m experimenting with turning to a daily prayer app instead of Facebook when I have a few minutes.
- Turn off notifications on most apps. This goes double for news headline notifications. Don’t let other people’s priorities and anxiety become yours via your cell.
- Carve out some time in your day when you are not available to anyone by phone or text.
- Read a book on your phone instead of scrolling through Facebook.
- If you are waiting, once in a while intentionally choose not to turn to your phone and just look around or think. Let your mind wander.
- Try a habit formation practice to slow yourself down (a la Stanford researcher B.J. Fogg). “When I pick up my phone to call or text someone, I say a prayer for that person.” “When my phone buzzes with a message, I take one breath before I check the message.” “When I plug my phone in to charge, I give thanks.”
- Put your phone upside down when you are having a conversation (especially with someone you love).
How do you find your phone a blessing? What are your challenges in using it? (You might be addicted, or you might hate it.) Comment below and let me know.