The other day I got SO MUCH DONE my body was literally buzzing. I felt like I’d won a pulitzer prize or lucked out at a Zara sale (both big wins). Why? My phone was nowhere to be found. On purpose. I decided it was my sweet little iPhone’s day off. Because she deserves it as much as anyone else, right?
This led me to wonder…
How on Earth do we get anything done almost every other day of our lives? How are we supposed to be productive? According to a recent study by ComScore, the average American adult (18+) spends 2 hours, 51 minutes on their smartphone every day. And can we really keep it up without impacting our health, from our mental alertness to our real-life engagements… not to mention our ability to exist anxiety free without our fingers wrapped around a smartphone?
There’s an app for everything — from finding love to buying burritos to mellowing out with meditation. It’s no wonder our phone feels like an extension of our mind and body.
As a productivity addict, here are six ways to stay sane and centered… and enjoy life in living color:
1. Enjoy your errands.
I love using wait times at the bank, Walgreens, and Whole Foods to write emails. But at least once a day, when I walk my dog, post a letter, pick up a bottle of Pinot, or even nip out for a mani, I leave my phone on charge.
As soon as I step out sans phone, I notice and appreciate the smell of the air, the light of the sky, the hilarity of my dog sniffing every tiny thing on the ground… and I feel the delicious sensation of my body just loosening up. It feels good. Your inbox can survive without you for 30 minutes, I promise.
The worst that can happen is you miss an Instagrammable moment. You’ll live. And yep—you’ll actually be living, not just documenting. Enjoy it.
2. Go push free.
Yup, you can lose all those buzzing, useless notifications that distract you every few minutes. Aside from texts and calendar reminders, I no longer get any of these.
I have to proactively check my apps to see if I’ve received an email, a tweet, a WhatsApp message, a friend request, or an alert about someone sharing something lame on LinkedIn. This means I see stuff I don’t really care about maybe just once per day. It’s liberating. The world can wait—I’m enjoying my tea!
It’s how to be productive my friend. That involves you losing your reactive state.
3. Kick it old school.
When was the last time you bought an actual book, put your feet up, and dove on in? The same goes for a magazine or the paper. Instead of scrolling or swiping on a Sunday morning, why not grasp something real—in ink? Sometimes there’s no substitute for paper.
As much as it pains me to admit that exercise has yet another benefit—I prefer anything, even cleaning my oven, to working out!—the one thing I really appreciate about spin class is the “no phones allowed” policy.
This gives me 45 minutes of undisturbed Me Time, no exceptions. It feels almost naughty and indulgent to be unreachable, even if only for a little while. I use this time to repeat my affirmations and visualize achieving my goals, instead of checking my texts and Facebook updates.
5. Give yourself a curfew.
I opt for an “electronic sundown,” which is when you put all your devices away an hour before bed. You’ll probably sleep better, too! Do some stretches. Light some candles. Journal. Talk to your spouse or roommate. Meditate. There’s so much more to life than stuff involving a screen! It’ll also set you up for a productive day tomorrow.
6. Buy an alarm clock.
They are $10. If nothing else, when you wake up let the first minutes of your day be phone free. Actually taste your coffee. Set an intention for the next 24 hours. Breathe. It’s a major win if you’ve just started the morning with no external influences. Talk about how to be productive! And it’s the perfect start to a productive day.
7. Do something productive – like napping!
Speaking of sleep – napping feels counter-intuitive to productivity but it actually boosts it. The national sleep foundation states,
A short nap is usually recommended (20-30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.
I love what Michael Hyatt says, “Everyone I know who naps regularly says the same thing: Naps are a secret productivity weapon.” What can you skip out on to give yourself 20-30 minutes of shut eye today?
This isn’t some innate gift. If you aren’t already, you can learn how to be productive…
Please, tell me in the comments below… What will you do this week to let go of your device for a bit and inject some you-time into your life? And don’t stress; you’re not breaking up with your phone. You’re just taking some time away from each other. And all relationships benefit from a little space.