It’s time for a diet… from your phone.

As marketers, we are expected to be always on.

Always available, accessible and responsive.  We’re expected to stay current on trends, industry news, competitors and clients.  We’re also expected to be clear communicators, critical thinkers and savvy debaters.  However, what most people don’t realize is that those expectations are often at odds with each other.  How can we communicate clearly when we only think in hashtags and 140 characters or less?  How can we have a meaningful and thoughtful debate without going straight to Google to settle it? A recent post I read really brought this point home for me.

Studies have shown that our phones can make us more anxious and less happy, yet we are more addicted to them than ever before.  Be honest- how many times do you check your phone in a day?  In an hour?  I never really noticed how addicted I am to checking my phone until recently.  I actually counted — I picked up my phone to check e-mail/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc. more than 30 times in a 60-minute span.  It’s excessive, and I think I’m not alone.

So what do we do about it?  Some would say that this technology is a gift- one that generations before us didn’t have and we should be grateful for the opportunity to have endless entertainment and information at our fingertips.  And I agree — in part.

Others may see this as a wake up call and attempt to change their behavior.  Being overly reliant and addicted to anything is not a good thing. “Everything in moderation,” my Mom always says. And Mom is always right.

I think the challenge is that we overuse our phones in places and at times we shouldn’t. The bathroom. The bedroom.  The living room. Instead of picking it up and expecting it to entertain you….. Relax. Be present where you are. You don’t need to be entertained by it all the time. 

There are times and places where using your phone makes sense. Paying for your coffee using an app; scanning an item’s barcode in-store to get more information, comparing prices and reading reviews; using a digital coupon at the checkout – these are all examples when the phone can enhance your experience, not detract from it. 

Perhaps the issue is not that we’ve become overly reliant on our phones – it’s that we aren’t being smart about how (and when) to best use them. We need to go on a diet… No more binging on it, compulsively checking it or using it as a way to cure boredom. Instead, let’s use it in moderation, and in places and at times where it makes sense.  

What do you think?  Can you, or would you, consider a mobile “diet”? 

Here are a few steps to get you on your way (courtesy of Jeremy Vandehey of Medium):

  1. Keep it in your pants. Literally. Leave your phone in your pocket and resist the urge to use it 30 times an hour.
  2. Brain first, phone second. Can’t think of something? Try. Sit and think about it a bit before you default to Google for answers. Or, use it for something useful, like shopping.
  3. Hide and delete. Rid yourself of the apps that aren’t necessary.
  4. Never push, Always pull. You don’t really need to be alerted every time some likes your Facebook post.
  5. Delivery is free if it’s a mile or less. Stop Ubering or Lyting everywhere. Get out and walk whenever possible.
  6. Buy a watch. Don’t use your phone to check the time. It’s too tempting to do other things once you pull it out.
  7. No phones in the bedroom or bathroom. Use those rooms for their intended purposes.