How long do you think the average work email goes unread? 10 minutes? 5 minutes? 1 minute?
Try 6 seconds.
From Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked: “In reality, 70 percent of office emails are read within six seconds of arriving.”
Well, people average 3 hours a day on their phones. In the pre-smartphone era that number was just 18 minutes. And what happens when you ask young adults if they’d rather have a broken bone or a broken phone?…
There’s a study that was done asking people, mainly young adults, to make a decision: if you had to break a bone or break your phone what would you prefer? Forty-six percent of people would prefer to have a broken bone than a broken phone. But even for the fifty-four percent of people who say they’d prefer to have a broken phone, it wasn’t a snap decision. They agonized over it.
And if you have kids, this issue is even more serious. Children don’t learn empathy and emotional intelligence from screens. And Adam says kids now spend 20% less time playing face-to-face. Guess where that time went? Exactly. Okay, so what do we do about it?
1) “Don’t” Say “Can’t”
When you make the commitment to change, tell yourself, “I don’t check my phone more than once an hour” as opposed to, “I can’t check my phone more than once an hour.”
2) Proximity Is Destiny
When you don’t absolutely have to have your phone by your side, put it somewhere you can’t easily reach it. Across the room is a good option.
3) Use A “Stopping Rule”
Ever said you’re going to “just check your phone real quick” — and then an hour goes by? … So a “stopping rule” can prevent endless checking.
4) You Don’t Break Habits. You Replace Them.
Proximity is destiny, right? When you sit on the couch, make sure the phone is far away and a book is within reach. So now you’re not just gritting your teeth trying to not check your phone. You’re substituting a good habit for the bad one. When you want to check your phone, you grab a book instead.
5) Dr. Jekyll, Prepare For Mr. Hyde
You’ve seen some version of this movie: the main character knows he’s going to turn into a werewolf after nightfall so he barricades the door and chains himself in the basement. This way, when he transforms into the monster, it won’t be able to harm anyone. (Yes, you’re the hero and the monster in this story.)
By making smart decisions in anticipation of a problem, you make sure that future-you doesn’t do anything stupid like addictively checking your phone (or mauling some hitchhikers.)
So the long term solution is not about the phone. It’s about getting closer to that special someone and spending more time with them. And letting that bond soothe the worries you’re running to your phone for.
So if you’re reading this on your phone, text or email that person. Let them know you care. Set a time to see them.
And then put the phone away.
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