As Richard Branson said: “Don’t be a slave to technology: manage your phone, don’t let it control you.”
Unfortunately, most people are glued to their smartphones. Here are some worrying statistics about smartphone use:
46% of smartphone users spend 5-6 hours a day on their smartphones. The average adult spends 3 hours and 54 minutes on their mobile devices per day. On average, we pick up our smartphones between 150 and 344 times a day (once every 4 minutes).
During the pandemic, daily smartphone use has nearly doubled among children
Fortunately, one of the most effective ways to spend less time on your smartphone is to have a clear list of productive, healthy, and fulfilling replacement activities.
The more you practice these replacement activities, the less time you spend on your smartphone.
learning new skills
Most people say they “don’t have enough time” to learn new skills or read more books. This is a lazy excuse. The problem is not a lack of time, it is a lack of time management. Every day, hours are wasted on crappy distractions and entertainment.
As Richard Koch, author of The 80/20 Principle, put it: “It is not the lack of time that should concern us, but the tendency to spend most of our time in a low-quality way.”
What if, every day, you traded 30 minutes of mindless scrolling on the phone for 30 minutes of learning a new skill?
Whether it’s learning high-value skills to earn more money, new languages emerging in different cultures, or party tricks to show off to your friends, there are dozens of skills to learn.
When scrolling on the phone provides a temporary high (the dopamine spike is short-lived), learning a new skill will stay with you for years, if not a lifetime.
watch a documentary
I love documentaries. It is not only a relaxing form of entertainment but also educational. A good documentary helps you understand the world a little better, opens your mind, and inspires you to make some changes in your daily life.
Some of the best documentaries I’ve seen recently are:
- 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible
- The Social Dilemma
- Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
- Fantastic Fungi
Create an online income stream
If you’ve ever complained about not making enough money, but still waste hours a day scrolling through social media or news apps, put down your smartphone and get to work.
Instead of passively consuming content on your smartphone, use your time more productively and start creating content. Start producing valuable things. Build a side hustle. Write in the middle. Create a digital product on Gumroad. Start as a freelancer.
Thanks to the Internet, it has never been easier to start a business or create an additional income stream. Never.
Our (great) parents did not have that opportunity. They were forced to work more than 40 hours for someone else. There was almost no other option.
But these days, all you need to make money is an internet connection and a monetizable skill. So instead of being distracted by the Internet, use it to your advantage. Use it to earn more money.
Jack Canfield, the author of Chicken Soup For The Soul, said: “The big problem in America is that everyone spends 2-3 hours a day watching television. If you spend the same amount of time reading, you’ll be in the top 1% of whatever field it is.”
Now, I don’t think many of us have more than two hours a day available for reading. But this is not necessary either.
If you read 15 pages a day, you will finish about 27 books a year (since the average non-fiction book is about 200 pages).
While reading 15 pages can be done in just 20 to 30 minutes a day, the Jack Canfield quote is still relevant. The big problem is that most people spend this time watching TV or glued to their smartphones.
But what if you traded just twenty minutes of mindless scrolling for twenty minutes of purposeful reading? You would learn more, develop valuable knowledge and expand your knowledge.
Some of my favorite books of all time are:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
- The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
- The psychology of money – Morgan Housel
- A New Land – Eckart Tolle
All that time spent staring at a screen could have been spent getting organized. You could have used it to clean your house, prepare healthy meals for the next few days, or plan your entire week.
If you feel like you’re always “late” for the day, it might be worth spending fifteen minutes less on the phone and using it to get organized.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Getting organized is the metaphorical “sharpening the axe”, which makes each day flow more efficiently.
Do something creative
Instead of consuming other people’s creative output (aka content), why not make something creative yourself? Put your right brain to work and do something creative, like:
- making music
- DIY projects
- build/fix things
Studies have shown that pursuing creative projects increases happiness and cognitive functioning while lowering stress and anxiety. Also, creative activities tend to induce a state of flow, which is a powerful state of mind to be in.
This is a stark contrast to the effects smartphones tend to have. Studies have shown that heavy smartphone use correlates with increased stress, depression, and anxiety.
These activities bring me true happiness. They make me much more fulfilled and mentally “rich” than hours browsing social networks, for example.
In short, make a list of your highest-quality leisure activities and refer to that list every time you spend a lot of time on the phone.