By Kurt Frost
Our smartphones are often seen as a distraction or a necessary evil to keep in touch with our larger world or as a fun escape. Rarely do we treat these devices as mindfulness tools. This is exactly what yours can be if you take some time to consider how you can use it with your health and well being in mind. With some tweaks to the layout, settings and apps you download, along with some mindful re-commitment to your working relationship with it, your smartphone can be a great asset to keeping your focused and calm. We could all use a little more of that!
Below are a few tips to get you started on the path to mindful smartphone mastery. I will post more going forward, so keep checking back.
Decide what you want to use your phone for.
Though your smartphone is really just a mini computer, you really shouldn’t try to use it for all of your tasks. Some things are much better done on a tablet or laptop. Instead of using it as an everything device, think about what activities your smartphone can uniquely do the best for you.
If social media is a black hole you can get sucked into repeatedly throughout the day, consider only accessing those sites via your laptop. You can always add these apps back again later if you decide you cannot live without them. Just don’t sell short any opportunity to make your smartphone more mindfully in line with the things that matter most to you throughout the day.
Liberally use do not disturb to keep your focus.
If you always keep your ringer and notifications on, then you are basically telling your smartphone, and everyone else, that you are available all of the time, at a second’s notice. This contributes to feeling more stressed. Turn on the do not disturb mode on your device when you are having important conversations with others or doing deep work.
If you want to make a more radical, mindful move, try keeping your smartphone in do not disturb as a default and then mindfully check it throughout the day for messages and notifications. You can always turn it off if you are waiting for an important call, but the point is that you can choose how to consume the information from your smartphone and not be at its mercy when it has something new to give you.
Use reminders to keep yourself on track.
Every smartphone has some version of a reminders app. Add several reminders to the beginning, end and throughout your day to gently bring your attention back to where you want it. For example, you can add a reminder to do a short meditation in the morning or evening or to stop for a few deep breaths during a chronically stressful part of your day. Don’t rely on your brain to keep track of all of this for you. It will only add to your busyness and stress.
For more enhanced features, like being able to easily set hourly reminders or get mindful messages randomly sent to you throughout the day, there are multitudes of other apps you can download.
You may also wish to add your email using the link below to sign up for the newsletter for the Mindful Smartphone series. In it, I will not only post the latest blog posts but occasionally share new content and updates on my work to help you use your technology more mindfully.