Enjoy your smartphone — but don’t let it become your master!

Why I am limiting my iPhone usage in 2016

Like many of you, I’m still figuring out how to get meaningful value from my smartphone without becoming a slave to it. I feel like I made some real progress in 2015, but I know there’s still room for improvement this year too.

One of the best decisions I made last year was to switch off almost all push notifications on my iPhone. Only emails and text messages from close family and friends, and important reminders and appointments, ever buzz me or appear on my lock screen now.

There is so much freedom in not getting buzzed on my iPhone and Apple Watch with every new like, comment, or tag on Facebook and every mention on Twitter. And why did I ever think there was value in getting a push notification for every single new email?

If you haven’t yet tried radically reducing the amount of notifications you get on your smartphone, I highly recommend it. If it isn’t critical, don’t let yourself be disturbed. Life will feel so much more peaceful!

The other way in which I tried to manage my use of technology better last year was by making better use of the Do Not Disturb feature my iPhone has. This allows me to set a timeframe when no notifications of any kind will come through to me.

Up until now, I’ve used this to ensure I don’t get disturbed while I’m sleeping. But one of my goals for this year is to take this further. I am going to shut off all notifications at least one hour before I go to bed. There is lots of research making it clear how damaging smartphone use before sleep can be. It’s time for me to stop ignoring it!

The research also suggests that looking at a smartphone first thing in the morning isn’t a good idea. On a practical level, I have critical reminders that I need to see, but I have chosen now to limit my iPhone usage to just that in the mornings. I don’t need to check Facebook, Twitter, Slack, or my emails in the first hour of my day.

Those who know me well understand how much I love my technology. Having the latest Apple gadgets brings me a lot of pleasure. I’m about as far as you can be from being a technophobe! But I also appreciate the need to be careful with how I integrate technology into my life. I need to constantly ask: is my smartphone serving me, or am I serving it?

Taking time to think about the use of smartphones in our lives is I think important. It isn’t about finding one right way that will be the same for us all. But it is about being intentional in our use of them and making sure they are adding to our lives and not stealing from them.

So my advice? Enjoy your smartphone — but don’t let it become your master! And that means assessing how we use it and the role it has in our lives on a regular basis.

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