SELF HELP RESOURCE - Self Development / Lifestyle Management

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One of the main reasons phone-life balance is so important is because in its absence we sometimes forget to care and extend basics kindness to ourselves and others in our daily interactions.

Our phones are a valuable powerhouse of information: material to read, games to play, ways to keep in touch with friends and family, various apps that help us keep track of how we eat, help us meditate, access new learning and much, much more.

However, it is not OK for people to spend time with someone during a social gathering while the latter is only pretending to listen to them, while actually looking at their phone.

When this happens, the message sent by the phone-user to the other person is that what is on the former’s phone - what attention and pleasure they are deriving from their  phone - is more important and valuable in that moment compared to who is sitting right in front of you. This is a painful feeling and understandably causes resentment in the relationship shared.

There exist several studies that suggest that multitasking while studying or working is a bad idea - it reduces productivity to a large extent. Multitasking, with the aid of electronic interruptions is even more widely documented to affect the work at hand.

It is odd that this logic is not strongly applied in the realm of personal interactions.

One of the things we need to ask ourselves is: what is the root cause of our excessive phone use? What is it about the way we currently lead  our lives that causes us to do this?

Maybe part of the answer is that we all have a major need for some undisturbed downtime for ourselves. Scrolling mindlessly through Instagram stories, Snapchat, Facebook statuses and links allow us to access some form of entertainment with minimum engagement at our end. It’s as if we are able to learn about the lives of others’ without making the effort to interact with them.

In itself, this is not a problem. But to access this pool of data that captures our attention while we are doing something else is an issue to be addressed.

One of the ways to solve this is to treat our free time as special. Simply because it is not structured the way our office hours might be, doesn’t mean that it can’t be approached without care. Our free time is valuable and time spent with others or by oneself, both can be real quality time.

The way to do this would not be prescriptive; it wouldn’t involve shaming a person about their phone use in the manner of an anti-smoking ad for instance. It would involve continuing to use one’s phone for usefulness and pleasure. It would also involve building buffer spaces, finding ways to be mindful about not letting our phone use constantly seep into different parts of our life, having parts of our day where we are conscious about not using our phone at all for some time.

The benefits of doing this are that we will feel deeply rested and energised through the free time that we get. Our minds will be fully engaged in the pleasure and joy that we get and can give to friends and family. Our quality time with them will be whole and not divided or half-hearted.

Our work, sleep, eating, entertainment habits will improve for the better if we stopped allowing the phone to be a constant interruptor or bystander in our lives daily - and surely, that is the point of better, healthier technology?

Latest Comments

counsellorTK on 06 Aug 2021, 18:06 PM

I liked the line:
treat our free time as special
we need to ask ourselves is: what is the root cause of our excessive phone use? What is it about the way we currently lead our lives that causes us to do this?

avneetkc on 23 Nov 2020, 16:36 PM

This is a great article, I enjoyed reading it. I would like to add that one way that I worked towards building such a balance was to put my phone on silent when I was around others. I explored the settings and found that I could mute message and WhatsApp notifications, while having my phone ring when I got calls. I did this because I know that message notifications never really end, and it would not only cause disruption if I was talking to a friend, but it would also distract me and cause me to feel the urge of checking my phone. So far, this has been a very useful method.
- Avneet Kaur