Less distracted by your mobile phone

I shook my head back and forth in amazement. Why would you leave everything on your mobile phone on if it is your intention not to use it? Why would you make it so difficult for yourself?

I watched a documentary. It contained a piece where a teenage boy had agreed not to use his mobile phone for a week. It is in the kitchen. Switched on and online. After a few days he sees a notification from the corner of his eye that catches his attention and of course he can’t help but look. After that he becomes completely absorbed by his mobile again.

Not wanting to watch your mobile while you hear and see all kinds of things happening there is very difficult. And unnatural. We humans are made to respond to stimuli. And all apps aim to constantly grab our attention.

You can teach yourself to be more aware of your own reaction to stimuli. By observing your own behavior. Through meditation. Practicing mindfulness.

But of course you can also just ensure that there are fewer stimuli.

I myself am always working on figuring out how to best stay in balance. How to keep hearing myself in this busy world that wants attention on many fronts. And after years of practice, trying and fine-tuning, I know the following things help me with my mobile phone use :

  • The internet on my mobile is turned off by default and I sometimes consciously turn it on.
    Someone once asked me why I don’t switch off my mobile phone more often, but that is really different for me. First of all, I want to be available when someone calls me. And secondly, I feel that my energy is drawn to my mobile as long as the internet is on and therefore messages can potentially come in.
  • Almost all of my notifications are off anyway.
    Except Whatsapp. Because bleeps and moving things on a screen only distract me and anyway: is it really necessary that I know immediately when I receive an email? Someone likes an Instagram photo? I received a message on LinkedIn? The answer is: no.
  • I don’t need my mobile for everything.
    For example, I have a separate alarm clock. I listen to music via my laptop, stereo or tablet. I also have a paper English-Dutch dictionary (I read a lot of English books and every now and then a word comes up that I don’t know).
  • Offline Sundays.
    I have them intermittently. The last few months almost every week. A day like this helps me to use my mobile phone and the entire internet more consciously on other days. Because I change the habit of immediately needing/wanting to do something online. And it gives me peace of mind not to have the option to watch a movie or an episode of a series for a day anyway.

A mobile phone and social media are simply addictive. At the same time it makes a lot possible and it can be extremely useful, and fun. Often you just don’t realize how much it takes up your attention, until you spend less time on it.

How aware are you of the amount of attention, time and energy you spend on your cell phone?

The documentary I watched is called “The Social Dilemma“. This documentary includes interviews with technical experts who have worked at companies such as Google, Facebook and Instagram and who have become aware of the dark side of their own creations. It shows how social media reprograms civilization (also offline!). Recommended!