Want to know who invented pet rocks? Push a button on your phone and you’ll have the answer.
What song is this? Your phone will tell you.
What should I be doing today? Ask your phone.
How wonderful are smartphones?
With those little pockets of technology you can shop, speak, bank, pay bills, research, write, take photographs, make videos – is there anything they can’t do?
I don’t know how I’d live without one. Oh, wait, I did, for more than half my life.
HOW TO USE YOUR SMARTPHONE SMARTLY
Possibly one of the world’s greatest time savers, smartphones are also the greatest time wasters.
Did you know you can track how much time you spend looking at Facebook? There are a bunch of apps for that.
Don’t believe me? Type Facebook time tracker into your phone’s browser and see for yourself. Do you know how much time you spend on social media? You could be shocked. You may be horrified.
I remember the dinosaur days when we all relied on the home landline to speak to each other. It was an exciting time when I got my first answering machine so that I didn’t risk breaking my neck by running into the house from the garden to answer my phone. I could let the machine pick up. Such freedom!
THE SMARTPHONE CURSE
Then came mobile phones and I experienced that sense of freedom once again. Hey, I could talk to anyone I wanted, wherever I was. Unless there was poor reception in that area. Or my phone’s battery had run out.
It wasn’t until my teenage sons all had mobile phones that I realised their curse. If my sons didn’t answer, for whatever reason, I could go from mild concern into a full-blown panic attack. They’re not answering. That means something horrible has happened.
Prior to this, I had accepted there were times they would be out of reach.
I was grateful my sons had reached late teens and relative independence before I became reliant on mobile phones to contact them.
There was a certain sense of control, lost when everyone had a mobile when people had to call the home phone, and often speak first to me, in order to speak to one of my kids. I knew who my sons were talking to. I knew what they were getting up to.
Still, like the masses, I embraced the new technology and rejoiced in each new capability – and still do.
ARE YOU A SLAVE TO YOUR SMARTPHONE?
However, I also recognised how many of us were not using our smartphones smartly.
Instead of allowing these little, magical rectangles to free up our time, many of us were becoming slaves to our phones.
Are you a Smombie? Read, Are All Our Rules Making Us Stupid? to find out.
According to a report by Ofcom in the UK, at least 60 per cent of us consider ourselves to be addicted to our devices and spend more time on them than we intend.
For people whose jobs require a lot of self-motivation, smartphones can be an absolute curse.
You can be right in the middle of writing an important article and the phone rings. Then, you stop what you’re doing, take the call and by the time you’re finished, have completely lost your train of thought.
Maybe you are enjoying precious memory-making moments with your grandkids and the phone rings. You take the call. The grandkids become restless, as little kids will do, and you become frustrated trying to have a three-way conversation. The call ends. You are stressed and flustered, your grandkids are cranky and you have to work extra hard to get back to that beautiful memory-making place.
You’re creating a beautiful piece of art and you hear the familiar tone that lets you know there’s a message or a notification from some social media platform. You stop what you’re doing to investigate. Maybe you get distracted by other notifications and lose track of time. Either way, you’ve lost your flow. And you’ve lost time. You have not been using your smartphone smartly.
THE SECRET TO USING YOUR SMARTPHONE SMARTLY
There’s a big secret to using your smartphone, smartly. Put it on silent. I keep mine on silent, much to the disgust of my family, all the time.
The only time the volume goes up is when I’m listening to music or a video, or when I’m expecting important news – a loved one having an operation, a baby about to be born – that sort of thing.
When I started doing this, I felt the same freedom I felt when I got my first answering machine. The phone doesn’t own me anymore. I own it.
TAKE BACK CONTROL
If my kids need to talk to me desperately, they’ll keep ringing and leave a message. Or they’ll ring their Dad. After all, we managed quite well back in the days of the landline and answering machine.
For people working from home, the ability to take control of their phone, and their time, is essential.
It means you can get on with your work and speak to people on your own time terms. Even if you have clients calling you, as long as you return their call within a reasonable time, they will forgive you for not answering immediately. After all, you could be in an important meeting or at an appointment.
I usually have my phone close at hand. You never know when a wonderful photo opportunity will occur, or when the ability to research something on your phone can save time.
However, I leave it on silent and face down – so I can’t see and be distracted by notifications as they come up. (Some people buy or make sleeves for their phones to stop the distractions and ensure they remember they are in a phone-free time).
Then, when I’ve achieved what I’ve wanted to for the day, I check my phone. It is easy to prioritise what needs to be dealt with first because all the notifications are still there. When the business is completed I can take the time to return calls and actually enjoy the conversation, not feeling torn between two activities.
After all, that, if I feel like it, I can play around on the social media platforms, or even enjoy a game of solitaire, without any stress or feelings of guilt.
Are you using your smartphone smartly?
Wishing you a gleeful week, Tamuria.