Our smartphones are seriously awesome and our lives are probably way better since we have them around. We can talk to almost anyone we want, anytime we want, and we can text, call, email, or use social media. But that doesn't mean that we should be on our phones every single moment of our lives because there are a lot of things in the world and there are a lot of circumstances where we don't actually need them. We've become so super reliant on our phones, it's a real addiction, and it's kind of a problem. The Internet is only 25 years old (if you can imagine that!) and people were living in this world for a long time before that... without iPhones. Yup, we know, it's hard to believe that, but it's honestly the truth. People managed to get by and even thrive without iPhones. Remember that! Keep that phone nearby, of course, because you need it, and having a phone on you is just common sense when you're heading out. But here are 16 reasons to spend a little more time away from your phone. Yes, you will survive, we promise.
16 They Mess With Your Sleep
Smartphones emit some super bright light, which is perfect for reading late night texts or using your phone as a flashlight to find the keys that vanished after you dropped them under your car seat. But that light can also throw off our sensitive bodies and make it harder for us to fall asleep at night. Adding to the whole light conundrum, how many of us sleep with our phones either right by the bed charging or literally in the bed with us? Guilty as charged (ha). The thing is, if the phone is close enough to be grabbed when you wake up in the night then it probably will be out of habit, which again creates the light issue but also can just cause a distraction. You might be just trying to check the time on the clock, but then you noticed a text or an Instagram notification that you have to check of course. Next thing you know you've come too far out that restful state you were in and toss and turn for a bit. It's going to be a hard habit to break, but try charging your phone on the other side of the room so you can't do this. It'll also force you to physically move to turn off your alarm.
15 They Make You Less Productive
It turns out you're not as good at multitasking as you think you are. No really, it's not even your fault, it's just a human brain thing. We're really good at convincing ourselves that we're good at this, but we actually just create situations where we're putting more effort into things rather than streamlining them. When we multitask, we're switching back and forth quickly between different thoughts, but there's a cognitive cost to that. When we multitask, we have a harder time filtering our thoughts, which means that we keep thoughts we don't need, which ends up slowing us down and making us work less efficiently. It can feel good to multitask, but that's only because when you check the phone you get a hit of dopamine, and then your body is inspired to keep switching between other small tasks for more dopamine, which makes it feel like we're being rewarded for all of our hard work. One study found that efficiency drops so much when you are multitasking that it reflects an IQ drop that's similar to the IQ drop one faces after missing a night of sleep of smoking weed. Yikes.
14 You'll Be Less Annoyed By Social Media
People on social media can be pretty annoying. Of course, there is all kinds of wonderful stuff going on there and it's such an awesome way to share information, but there is also a lot of annoying stuff going on. How many times have you wanted to pull your hair out over that annoying friend from high school posting something annoying or insulting or stupid once again. All. The. Time. It's not like you can make the annoying posts silent, so you suffer through reading them and maybe even screenshot them to pass on to your best friend about how annoying they are, and she of course agrees, and then you end up thinking about how annoying this is way too much, and then what have you done the past ten minutes? Not much besides throw yourself off your own game. Who actually cares what that annoying person is doing or why? You probably don't at all, and when you spend a little less time looking you might find that you really don't care and you actually feel a lot more calm when you're just not paying as much attention.
13 You Will Have Less FOMO
Hey, if you don't know what anyone is up to, you won't feel like you're missing out! Fear of missing out is defined as "a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent." It's real, and it can be a pretty confusing emotion, talk about being pulled in two different directions. But it doesn't have to be that way if you can just cut down on what you're exposing yourself to. Of course, you shouldn't start ignoring your friends when they call or text unless you want to irritate said friends, but if you cut down on your phone time, in general, you might be able to cut down on your time spent on social media. If you've already committed to staying in for the night for example, maybe don't keep refreshing your Instagram every ten seconds to see how much fun everyone else is having. That sounds like a given but we get totally addicted to our social media and don't even think about it when we're checking it. This is evidenced in the moments where you exit out of an app and then accidentally go right back because you didn't even care enough the first time for anything you saw to make a real impact. Habitual we are.
12 You Can Protect Your Body
Forget the claims that smartphones can give you cancer or something, I don't know about all that and don't really want to think about it because I'm not going to stop talking on my iPhone. There are other more immediate forms of bodily injury that can occur from using smartphones. There is something called trigger finger that used to occur in factory workers that made repetitive movements with their hands all day, but now we're seeing it in the average person thanks to the amount of time that we're spending on our phone. The thumb gets a lot of use scrolling and typing, and when that veers into overuse it causes an inflammation of the tendon that's in place to help with the bending and the flexing of your thumb. When it gets inflamed it causes pain as well as swelling. I am not kidding you when I say that I have experienced this, and I blame the swiping motion of dating apps and my single status for having to use them in the first place. It goes away if you just chill out, but in severe cases, some people might require surgery to release the pressure. No thanks.
11 You Can Increase Random Social Interactions
We're so used to having our phones in our hand all the time, which means that when we're in an elevator or waiting in line, we'll probably turn it to beat the boredom or be "productive" and check an email or two. But those wait times are usually pretty brief anyway and probably don't require that you find such an extreme distraction. How about looking at the people around you, or perhaps even talking to them. A lot of people think they're in their own world when they're on their phone, similar to how we tend to think when we're in our car. But we're not, we're actually sharing a world and the fact that there are other people in it is the only reason that we have phones and social media to distract us anyway. A two-minute conversation can literally change your day, even if it's just because a kind small was exchanged for no reason other than that two people felt like recognizing each other's existence. Don't underestimate the power of brief but real social interactions.
10 You Can Learn Directions
When you have your phone on you at all times, it means that you can look anything up at a moment's notice. This is super convenient, life changing, and I wouldn't want it any other way. But it also affects your memory because it makes you less likely to file things away in that brain of yours. A good example of this is using a map on your phone to get somewhere. You don't have to remember any street names, freeway exits, or directions whatsoever to get to the same place multiple times, so you don't. In the past, you might have written down some directions to follow as you went and then after a time or two it would be locked into your memory, because why wouldn't it. Even if you missed a turn here and there the act of doing that would serve to reinforce the directions. Learning the route made it easier for you. But with an app to talk to you as you drive, you don't have to pay attention to a damn thing besides not crashing and the new Drake album you're blasting.
9 You Can Protect Your Love Life
There are a lot of reasons why your phone should be taking a backseat when it comes to your dating life. One very obvious reason is that when you're spending time with someone it's only polite to give them your attention. It's actually a really good sign that you like someone if you forget to take your phone out on a date... or even think about anything that might be happening on it. If you can't stop thinking about your phone or wanting to text other people when you're with someone, it might be a sign that you don't enjoy their company as much as you thought you did. One time I was hanging out with a guy and picked up my phone so he started texting me from three feet away. He wasn't the love of my life. And one time I dated someone who I thought was the love of my life, and I could have thrown my phone away for all that I cared. Additionally, the less time you spend trying to waste on your phone the less time you'll spend talking to and stalking people who you don't really need to me talking to.
8 You'll Feel Calmer
Having your phone set to allow push notifications can mean getting important email and messages on time. It can also mean that your phone never stops lighting up because someone just liked your photo on Instagram, you have a new match on Tinder, one of your Bumble matches is about to expire, Yelp is for some reason letting you know about some event you don't care about, Facebook mentioned that so and so who you haven't seen since middle school has a birthday, Poshmark wants to encourage you to buy a purse/kick ass, and 13 of your friends are texting. That's all great, but if you don't put the phone away, or turn it over or something, that's all you're going to be seeing all day. Heaven help you if you keep your ringer on. Seriously think about how chaotic that can be, and distracting. Like WTF?! When you take a step back from that constant reminder that something else is happening you have a better chance of just being where you are and creating a sense of calm in that place. Which is necessary for reducing stress, of course..
7 You Can Create More Time In Your Day
If you don't have enough time in the day or always feel like you could use another work day in the week (even though you don't want one), you should probably find some ways to create more time in the day. Of course, we'll never be able to accomplish everything all at once and life takes a lot of prioritizing and commitment to get everything done, but it's a lot easier to do that when there are fewer distractions around. Let's be honest. You probably feel like you don't spend enough time on your phone to cut any of that time out, but do you know how much time we actually spend on social media? Some reports have suggested that teens spend like nine hours on social media, but the most addicted age range is actually between 25 and 54. The average American is awake for 15 hours each day... and spends 4.7 hours on their smartphone. Holy crap. That's almost a third of the day. No wonder you don't feel like you have enough time for your other hobbies or getting ahead on work... because you don't!
6 You Might Get Bored And Do Other Stuff
When you cut down on your phone time, you're seriously going to create more time in the day. If you have stuff to do, well, you will actually have the time to accomplish it. If you don't have stuff to do, you totally might get bored, but when you don't give in and pick the phone back up you will be forced to spend time doing something else with that time. (But sidebar be real, you have plenty of other stuff to you, you just don't feel like it. When you don't feel like doing something that needs to be done that's a really good sign that you should do it anyway and cut down on that to do list before it gets out of control.) Might you do the dishes instead of following a group text that doesn't even involve you? Might you decide to go for a hike instead of stalking Kylie Jenner's best friend's lip and eyebrow transformations over the years, or go talk to your neighbor in person because you aren't commenting on Facebook posts, or read a book because you're not taking selfies with the new SnapChat filters?
5 You'll Drive Safer
Plenty of people out there are texting and driving, or taking SnapChats while driving, or doing whatever else we do on the phone... while driving. Hopefully, you aren't doing this, but enough people are that it's a real problem. Obviously, this is so dangerous that it's absurd, but we tend to think that things aren't going to go wrong. But that's reckless thinking, we're certainly not invincible. And taking your eyes off the road even briefly can have dire results for anyone else you might happen to meet in the meantime. Even if you're not actually on your phone while driving but you feel the need to catch it at every stoplight, you're still doing some distracted driving. Your mind is elsewhere and you are actually feeling the pull to check your phone as a distraction. But from what? You're already engaging in an activity by driving and you're probably listening to music while you do. Do you really think you need to be more entertained than that while you drive the 20 minutes to work? Unless there's an emergency you're not going to miss anything by just staying in your own zone.
4 You'll Learn To Be Alone
You might physically be alone some of the time but when you have your phone connected to you at all times you can use it as a crutch and not really take on that feeling of being alone. Why on earth would you want to, you might ask? Well, at the end of the day, we only have ourselves no matter how many people are around to love and communicate with us, and it's a good thing to keep in mind. You want to know that if your phone breaks you aren't going to get lost or freak out because you suddenly feel like you might as well be on Mars. Staying present with yourself is the best way to get to know yourself, and in really getting to know yourself you figure out what's great about you, what could use a little help, and what you might do about any of those things. Trusting yourself, your intuition, and your capabilities creates a key base point to build the rest of your life around. If you want a stable core and base level, you have to figure out how to build and sustain it.
3 You Can Learn To Time Block
The concept of time blocking is a productivity hack drawn from the concept of Parkinson's law, which states that "work will simply expand to fill the time available for its completion." You've experienced this when you're on a deadline you get stuff done but when you're not it can take weeks or never even get completed at all. The problem is that we often have a certain amount of freedom of time for accomplishing things, especially if it's a personal creative project or something. There will never be a deadline unless you set one. Time blocking is one tactic that can be used to get around this mental barrier. The guy who came up with this concept suggests that you can become 50 percent more productive when you set out a specific time blocked schedule ahead of time and that it's possible to complete an average 60 hours of work in a 40 hour work week when you're utilizing this tool. Try spending just ten minutes at the end of the day to block out goals for the following day and see what happens. You might notice that none of those blocks include "check Instagram."
2 You Can Make Room For Inspiration
There's a concept that the process of manifestation requires a gap in the thoughts where you stop trying to control everything, which is what a lot of people strive for or experience when they do yoga. Even just brief moments where we can stop judging, worrying, hoping, and overthinking everything allows a bit of freedom in our consciousness for new things to come in. Ideally, those new things will be thoughts that are actually inspiring or helpful to you. Certainly, there are plenty of inspiring things to see on your phone, that is without a doubt. But you also have to figure out a way to create that uninterrupted space in your space to really be able to recognize or piece together that inspiration. You've probably noticed that you have some interesting thoughts or realizations in the shower which is why that happens. You're relaxed, and you're not distracted by anything besides the same legs that constantly need shaving. It's a calm routine, and in that there's room for inspiration to seep in. Try to cultivate that environment in other places as well.
1 You Can Get Comfy With Your Thoughts
When you're on your phone all day, you're spending a lot of time internalizing other people's thoughts. That's all well and good, and actually one of the things that's really powerful and cool about smartphones and the Internet in general. That connection and inner dialogue. However, you don't need to take it all in at the expense of your own thoughts. Who knows what has been influencing your own thoughts lately. You won't actually know until you take a moment away from those outside influences. Try just sitting and thinking, or writing your thoughts down on paper as opposed to making a note on your phone. The process is different to the brain, so you might get different results on what happens next. When you take the time to allow your own thoughts fully form, you will be more likely to remember tasks, trust your intuition, and keep track of what you need to get done. As counterintuitive as it sounds, letting go of some of the electronic connection can truly change the way you think.