You’re about to start cooking dinner when you have a question about the recipe… what can you substitute for tarragon? So you pull out your phone to type your question into Google. But what happens first? You see a new text message, notifications from 3 different apps… By the time you’ve finished checking everything out you’ve completely forgotten why you originally grabbed your phone in the first place.
Does that sound like something that’s happened to you? It’s probably happened to most of us!
We have so much to do, yet our smartphones tend to grab our attention and hold it for longer than we’d like to admit. Most of the time we don’t even notice the way our phones take over our minds. We don’t realize how addicted we are (technology is almost as addictive as gambling) and how much it influences our decisions.
How can we avoid reaching for our smartphones so often?
The trick to helping yourself break your addiction to your phone is by questioning it. Before you pick up your phone for one reason and then begin mindlessly scrolling, answer the 5 W’s.
Next time you’re about to grab your phone, mindfully ask these questions:
Are you with people whom you should be paying attention to?
Are you checking your phone to communicate with someone that isn’t with you?
This one question could be the only question you need to ask yourself. If you’re with someone, a friend, a significant other, a date… then keep your phone away. Even if you see this person every day, it can still harm a relationship if you’re both constantly looking at your phones throughout the day and not actually spending time enjoying each others’ company.
What are you planning to use your phone for?
If you don’t have a good answer for that question, then you don’t need to look at your phone. Many of us will mindlessly pick up our phones and begin scrolling without any intentions—we don’t know what we’re doing. On the other hand, if you have a specific task you’re planning to accomplish it’s less likely that you’ll get distracted by other notifications and apps.
It it urgent? Can what you’re about to do wait?
Sometimes, yes, it is urgent and can’t be done later. But the majority of the time it’s something that can wait—and if it can, then do it later!
Are you happy with where you’re at right now?
This could refer to either your current situation or the actual physical location. This can be a great mindful way to check in with yourself and make sure you’re headed down the path you want to be in life.
Are you trying to escape an uncomfortable situation, boredom, or stress?
Sometimes we just don’t want to deal with our emotions and find it easier to ignore them by focusing on something else—like our phones.
Ask yourself these questions the next time you reach for your phone. I bet you’ll discover that what you were about to do wasn’t really all that important in the present moment.