The internet gives us all of the information in the world. Even though we can learn anything and progress on the path much easier with access to technology, the easiest path is distraction, and the smartphone is how you travel.
Social media is made addicting. Even though we can improve our lives by learning on Khan Academy, Duolingo, or taking free MIT courses, many people spend their time using their phones in ways that do not benefit them at all. You need to consider how much time you spend on zero-return digital activities. These activities will not increase your confidence or provide more opportunities in your life.
The low-effort activity is usually detrimental or low-rewarding. Self-belief is built by overcoming challenges with high-effort.
Your phone should be used primarily as a tool to help you along the path. Consume content about the paths you are following; learn new skills and knowledge that will provide opportunity.
Below are three indications you may be controlled by your phone.
You use your phone for more than an hour a day
Using your phone for one hour a day means 365 hours per year, or 15 days of your life taken. This is fine if spent on productive activities. We want to limit the time we give to social media companies and other distractions.
Statista conducted a survey where half of the responses indicated people use their phones for 5 to 6 hours a day. That equals 76 days a year. Algorithms are used to steal your focus. Stealing your time discretely.
You need to distinguish between your productive and non-productive phone activities. Spending six hours of screen time learning Math or a new language is clearly a good use of your screen time.
“motivational” content is a waste of time. Motivation makes you “feel” like you did something. Watching videos that teach you give you the ability to do something.
Consuming topical information is not knowledge.
You check too many times per day
The average American checks their phone 262 times a day. Checking for business is different than checking for pleasure, but you shouldn’t need to check your phone in case you missed something. Set up constructive notifications so you don’t miss the important things but turn off notifications for everything else.
Each time you use your phone there should be a distinct reason. Not checking notifications(unless they’re valuable), not checking for notifications.
Open up your phone for nothing and you will inevitably find something to look at. Distraction takes us away from the path, away from the good life.
Most of the things you do in life that are worthwhile will be hard. Hard things contain value because not everyone is willing to do them. If you love the path you are on, hard things are difficult for the body and mind but pleasurable to the spirit. Needing to check your phone too often may be because the reality you inherited from your actions does not match your interests.
How many times is it reasonable to open your phone for your circumstances? When are you opening your phone?
You wake up with your phone
Your phone is not your lover; don’t sleep with it.
Having your phone in bed with you is too much power. The Egyptians worshipped Ra, the Sun God, understanding that the sun provides all life. Most sunlight is blue light which is what your phone emits to keep you awake and engaged. Ra goes away at night.
What to do about chronic phone use
Remove (or lock) apps
Remove what you chronically check that adds no value. Removing social media from your phone is a good, albeit extreme step. Understand that these companies spend millions of dollars on scientists whose responsibility is to find how to get you to use social media more; they do not care if this is for your benefit or detriment.
Remove applications you check chronically that do not add value. Removing social media from your phone can be a good thing. Remember, you can do almost everything you can on your computer that you do on your phone; except you don’t have to carry it with you. Carrying too many apps can be too heavy. Life under constant pressure is spirit crushing.
Some people need to use social media for their businesses. If you fall in that category set a limit for how long you can use each app. 20 minutes is a generous allowance to start with that allows more than enough time for posting but not enough to scroll forever.
Be cautious of digital locks because they tend to be unlockable. Some people who need extra help or who have children will purchase physical phone lockboxes like this great one.
Understand that social media is engineered to be addictive by IV league graduates. If you are powerless to it and feel out of control, it isn’t your fault. Entirely. Delete it or lock it.
Create a phone hub in a different room
Have a station for your phone that is fixed in location and in routine. Or if your phone is still in the room with you, you need to MAKE SURE it is not within your reach. Keeping your phone within reach will allow the unconscious reflex of reaching to check for any notification.
When not using your phone you can charge or rest it at the station. The kitchen can be a good spot, or the office as long as it’s out of reach.
When not using your phone you can charge it or keep it at the station. Just put a brick into a kitchen outlet and let that be the permanent spot for your phone when you are home. Or if you need something with a little style you can get a phone docking station.
You should keep your hub out of your room, and ideally wake up with a sunlight alarm, but at the minimum, keep your phone out of reach while you are sleeping. Seeing your phone can be a trigger to check it. If this isn’t obvious already, silence your phone at night. No vibration, no sound, AND FACE DOWN.
We understand some will use their phones as an alarm clock. That’s fine. Consider upgrading your sleep with a sunlight alarm.
Unproductive screen-time is regret at the end.