Updated: Dec 20, 2020
Many of us can sometimes feel that creeping addiction with our digital device. During my time as a CEO and Director, I was responsible for a 24/7 service which meant I was never really off duty. With 15 years of working at this level, those habits of always being contactable and wanting to feel on top of things meant that each time I picked up my phone, I'd be cycling through the same few apps every few minutes, often in the full knowledge that nothing would have changed!
It was really easy for me to fall into this habitual loop. I loved my job, I didn't ever really feel any distinction between work time and home time and it gave me a sense of comfort that I was there to help people out quickly as and when needed.
That being said, after a while, even though it never brought me stress, I did notice I would not be as 'present' in the moment as perhaps I could be. Moving into coaching, being present is essentially a core skill, and I have therefore been focussing really hard on breaking some of these habits that linger from corporate life and leadership.
I would love to tell you I have been amazingly successful, but sadly, my love of tech, connectedness and the ability to kid myself that I am doing something productive is quite impressive! (Just to reassure you all, I am not checking my phone whilst coaching!)
I was determined to find new ways of breaking the cycle. Here's a list of things that have helped me reduce my digital enthusiasm:
Reduce the number of notifications that individual apps can push to you. I found just turning off the sound and badge for email notifications saved me at least 10-20 pick ups a day.
Pop your phone on to charge in a different room to the one you're in... and leave it there! Just the bother of having to get up is enough to discourage absent-mindedly cycling through apps.
Delete those pesky time wasting apps. Yes Facebook and Instagram, I'm looking at you! You can always check them on your browser, or re-install them if you need them. It's just an added inconvenience, so you'll only check them when you need to.
Use the screen time function to set limits to individual app categories. That means you can email your clients to your heart's content, but you can't watch those fluffy kittens on YouTube.
Do other stuff that requires your attention. Walking, going to the gym, swimming, scuba diving, cinema, theatre... Anything where using your phone is either impossible or terribly frowned upon.
Use a smart speaker at home to add reminders, give you the weather, call people etc. It'll stop you going 'Ooo, I'll just check Twitter'
Finally, if you still can't resist the temptation of those kittens, I've found something which will take away my phone for an agreed period of time and no matter how much begging, it won't give it back. No, I haven't invited a militant behaviour coach to my home... I've found a clever cookie jar with a timed lock on it! This crafty little device has a little digital clock on the top and you can select anything from 1 minute to 10 days by rotating the dial. Once the desired time is showing, just depress the button and it gives you a five second countdown before locking. (You can cancel the lock in those 5 seconds just by pressing the button again.) Once that lock has whirred into place however, there's no way to open it again until the timer has run out.
Okay... It's robust but not indestructible, you could smash it, but that would be a bit wasteful!
If you'd also like a little extra help on reducing your phone use, cookie eating or confiscating the kids game controller, then maybe this device is for you too? Link below!
Lockable Cookie Box
Thanks for reading! Really hope the content is useful (even if you did read it on your phone!) and feel free to leave a comment with the techniques that have worked for you.