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Monday 25 September 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# live a better life
It's time to take this evening off using your phone*
*As best as you can – that’s what we’re asking on the third day of the first week of the process.

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SO FAR THIS week, with Live A Better Life we’ve taken a quiz about our phone use, and started monitoring how we use our phone.

Today, on the third day of the series, we’re giving you the permission to do nothing.

Nothing on your phone, that is.

shutterstock_602511173 Shutterstock / Shutterstock / /

The focus tonight is on trying to have a phone-free evening.

Now, if that sounds impossible to you, ask yourself: Can I really not spare even the hour before bed without my phone by my side?

Whether you do it from the second you arrive home from work, or just the last hour before bed, the aim is to try to have at least one continuous hour tonight free from phone use. Put your phone down in another room, and enjoy your evening.

Yes, it might be difficult

Dr Larry Rosen, professor emeritus at California State University, and author of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, told that taking time away from your phone can be difficult.

“When we removed phones from students in a study, those who were light users of their smartphone did not get more anxious over a 60 minute period where they were not allowed to do anything (to induce boredom and the urge to check in),” he said.

Those who were moderate users of their smartphones showed no change in anxiety until about 30 minutes into the period and then showed an increase that levelled off. Those heaviest smartphone users showed an increase in anxiety within 10 minutes which kept increasing throughout the hour-long period.

How to take a tech break

shutterstock_563256799 Shutterstock / siro46 Shutterstock / siro46 / siro46

Dr Rosen also offered a tested way of scheduling tech breaks, saying that his most common advice is that “the person needs to regain the art of attention rather than letting the device guide that attention”.

Here’s how to undertake Rosen’s tech breaks:

  • Give yourself one minute to check all devices currently in use, particularly focusing on what most distracts you (communication, social media, news)
  • Then close all unneeded websites/programs/apps (don’t minimise them on the computer, close them to remove the notifications)
  • Set an alarm on the phone for 15 minutes and turn the smartphone upside-down and put it close at hand.
  • Upside-down removes the notifications from interfering and distracting you and close by serves as a signal that you will be checking in shortly.
  • When the alarm goes off check anything nonessential to the work you are doing for one minute and repeat the process until you are comfortable with not checking in so often.
  • Then increase to 20 minutes focus time and then try to get it up to 30 minutes or more.

This evening, each time you’re drawn to your phone, remind yourself of the benefits of not checking it when you don’t need to (of course, if someone rings or a major emergency pops up, that is all A-OK. We’re talking about mindless phone use here – do you really need the phone while watching TV?)

You could use the spare time to chat with friends or your family members, read a book, do some sketching, play with your kids, do some mindfulness, or have a bath.

Let us know how you’re feeling about this in the comments. 

Live A Better Life: The series so far>

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