A study done three years ago reported that the average American checks their smartphone 150 times per day.
Another study showed that many people, regardless of age, check their smartphones every 15 minutes or less and become anxious if they aren’t allowed to do so.
And a separate study in which people had their devices taken away and were asked to sit in an empty room and think preferred to instead pass the time by reaching for the sole form of electronic entertainment in the room: a 9-volt battery administering a “severe static shock” when touched.
Digital distractions are a growing problem. More and more of us are becoming disconnected from the things that matter most because of how connected we are to our devices. In order to live the life we truly desire, a life filled with meaning and deep, authentic connections with others we must learn how to minimize these digital distractions.
Here are five keys that will help you overcome the digital distractions in your life:
1. Limit your screen time.
The New York Times reported that the average American spends about eight hours a day on some kind of screen. Some of this is work-related, but much of it is not.
Overcoming digital distractions begins by limiting our screen time. Turn the TV off. Put your phone away. Decide that screen time in your home ends at 8pm on weekdays. Setting limits like these is the first step to reclaiming your life from the stuff you own.
2. Only follow the people you really care about.
Most sites allow you to do this without the people you’re unfollowing knowing you’re unfollowing them, so you don’t have to worry about hurting their feelings. You can’t stay connected with everyone. It’s OK to be picky about the people you choose to follow. Focus on the ones you care about the most.
3. Disable notifications.
Turn off the real-time updates to your email, feeds, and social media sites. Set a couple of times each day where you check in on these sites. Use the “Do Not Disturb” function on your phone during those times when you need to concentrate. Doing this will let you spend the rest of your time focusing on the work and people who matter.
4. Put your phone away when your with people.
This is a big one I see most people (myself included) struggle with. Many of us appear like the people in the image at the beginning of this post. Make it a personal rule that your devices go off when your with other people. On that rare occasion when you are expecting an important call, let the person know so they won’t feel like you’re ignoring them for your phone.
5. Declutter your files.
Carve out a couple of times each year where you go through all your apps and files on your hard drive and in the cloud. Eliminate the ones you don’t need or want. This will free up space on your devices, allowing them to run faster and find things for you quicker.
Technology is here to stay. It’s become an essential part of our daily lives. But we don’t have to be ruled by it. How we manage our devices is up to us. Using these five keys will allow you to prevent your technology from keeping you from what matters most.