Your phone is part of you; it goes everywhere you go. At night, when all the lights are turned off, the soft glow of the screen is the only light source you need. You might even fall asleep with your mobile phone next to you in bed. Nothing brings a smile to your face like the buzz of a text message notification or a new voice mail. And on those frightening days when you realize you forgot to bring your device with you, no matter where you are, you immediately make a U-turn and go back home in a sweaty, panic-stricken haze so you can be reunited with your beloved as soon as possible.
Does this sound like you? If so, you’re part of a growing number of smartphone users who can’t bear to be separated from their technology, according Bank of America’s Trends in Consumer Mobility Report. Things are definitely hot and heavy when it comes to American consumers and their relationship with their phones. An overwhelming number of survey respondents (71%) sleep with their smartphones and roughly 23% said they sometimes even fall asleep with their device in hand. The bond between human and mobile phone is stronger than ever. Survey respondents also said their phone is the first thing they reach for in the morning, coming out ahead when compared against coffee (17%), a toothbrush (13%) and a significant other (10%).
If your smartphone has you in chains (cue Nick Jonas), know that a few simple behavior changes can help you slowly break free. Here are five tips for reclaiming your time.
1. Don’t take your phone to bed
While your phone might be warm and feel nice against your skin on a cold day, you can’t have a real relationship with it. That’s what people are for. Inviting tech devices into your bed will not only rob you of sleep but take you away from spending time with your love (if you have one). Reserve your bed for bedroom activities.
2. Designate a specific time for checking your phone
Resolve to not check your smartphone for updates during times when you need to concentrate (at work, for example). Wait until your lunch or coffee break. If this is difficult, you can try taking an earlier break for the first couple of days until you’ve gotten used to delaying your phone-checking habit. Start with small steps, and before you know it, you may be able to go an entire work day without obsessively checking your phone (well, maybe not an entire work day.)
3. Reserve a “no phone” time
We promise it won’t be as bad as you imagine it will be. Commit to not answering your phone during certain times, like when you’re having dinner with your loved ones. Practice enjoying the company of others and truly being in the moment. Rediscover the lost art of actually having a conversation. (And no texting during lulls in the conversation.)
4. Turn off message alerts
If hearing the beep, whistle, or buzz of your message alerts instantly compels you to check your phone, leading to a marathon text, voicemail, and social media session, turn off the alerts. Don’t feed your message-checking habit by responding to each and every sound.
5. Break your phone
Just smash it. Throw your phone on the ground and just totally trash it. No, we’re just kidding. Instead of breaking your phone, just turn it off during times when you need to recharge. For example, when you’re on vacation or during a long bus ride home. The Bank of America study found that most consumers (38%) never disconnect from their smartphones — even when they’re on vacation. The only way to truly disconnect is to turn the power off and just enjoy the sights and sounds around you.