Cultivating healthy phone boundaries

We have a powerful tool right at our fingertips: our phone.

It’s an amazing source for connection, business, and entertainment. It’s also an unfortunate source of distraction as I’m sure we’ve all experienced. How many hours have you wasted mindlessly scrolling Instagram or checking your email for the 104th time? For me, it’s way too many to count.

I love those apps on my phone, but there’s a time and a place for using and enjoying them. I knew something about my habit needed to change when I was beginning and ending my day on my phone. That kept me up too late and took away precious time I could/should be using for other more important things.

Boundaries needed to be determined. 

The boundaries have been set and my relationship with my phone is so much healthier. To help make the boundary setting easier for you, I’m sharing nine tips that I used to make it happen.

Use an actual alarm clock, not your phone.

I’m not as self disciplined as I need to be first thing in the morning. If I use my phone as my alarm clock, it’s way too easy to just open it up and play with it in bed. That’s not how I want to use my first moments of the day. Spend the money and purchase an alarm clock — it’s well worth it.

Charge your phone away from your bed.

Since your phone is no longer your alarm clock, you can move it away from your nightstand. Put your phone to “bed” at your designated time and let it charge there. Ideally this is outside of your bedroom, but at the very least across your room. Removing it from your immediate space will keep you from mindlessly using it.

Set and respect time limits.

I highly recommend limiting your screen time. I’ve found it’s easiest for me when I create concrete “rules” (like no phone after 10pm) because it takes the thought out of it. Set time limits that work best for you. The blue light emitted from our devices negatively affects our sleep, so take that into consideration when choosing your phone’s bedtime.

Apple released a built in app called Screen Time and it’s the best! You can set time limits for certain apps, big ones for me being social networking and productivity (apps like email). It tracks your usage and will actually “lock” apps if you’ve gone over your limit. I have my time limit set from 10pm-10am so that I’m giving myself plenty of time at night and in the morning to take care of myself and have a break from my phone. If you have an iPhone, this is a must! I’ve heard of other apps and websites that do similar functions, but I love that it’s just built into the phone’s software.

Unfollow/unsubscribe/delete.

Clean up your digital life. Are you following someone you don’t enjoy seeing? Unfollow. Are you getting emails that you always delete? Unsubscribe. Are there apps on your phone that you never use? Delete. You’ll spend less time on your phone when you’re not having to sort through so much extra stuff.

Turn off push notifications.

If you’re anything like me, you feel a sudden need to check your phone when a notification comes through. The point of push notifications is to grab your attention and make you click through to whatever it’s notifying you about. Use your phone on your own time and desire, so say goodbye to those push notifications. You can check in when you want and the notifications will still be there.

Practice social media/phone free time.

It’s a great habit to practice social media free days and phone free time. For my husband and I, date nights are generally phone free. We don’t mind a quick Instagram story to share something cool we’re doing or grabbing a photo to document the fact that we dressed up. BUT we don’t want to be the couple that’s spending their whole dinner with faces in the phones. The best things in life are experienced away from our phones.

Schedule posts in advance.

You might be someone that runs a small business and absolutely needs to use your phone — I totally get it! Try creating and scheduling your posts (social media, blog, podcast, etc) in advance and then set aside some time to engage on that post once it’s live. You’ll be more intentional with your time and actually free yourself from feeling like you need to be glued to your phone.

Enjoy phone free hobbies.

Get outside. Read a physical book. Play a board or card game. Take your dog on a walk. Put the phone down and enjoy. And don’t feel the pressure to pick up the phone to share about what you’re doing with all your friends. It still happened even if you didn’t share it.

Seek accountability.

Accountability can be with another person or with your phone itself. The Screen Time app I was talking about provides a huge source of accountability for me. It literally “locks” my apps at a certain time so I can have downtime. It’s helpful to share your goals for healthy boundaries with someone else because they may have good ideas to overcome your struggles and can encourage you to be phone free when you’re together. I believe accountability is always a good thing when we’re talking about something we want to improve.

There ya have it! Nine tangible tips and my favorite tool to help you cultivate healthy phone boundaries. Is this an area you struggle in? Which tip will you implement first?

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