Is your phone a net gain or net loss in your life?

I love having a smartphone. I’m old enough to remember the world before cell phones (even the flip phones!), and they make life easier in so many ways.

And yet. My phone is also a huge distraction and I can’t help but wonder: is it a net gain or a net loss to my life? I think it’s a net gain, but it all depends on how you use it.

How phones save time

Here are some ways I find my phone hugely beneficial:

  • Texting is quicker than a call.
  • GPS!
  • I have quick access to information, including contact information.
  • I always have something to read with me.
  • I’m never without my calendar.

How phones waste time

And yet…

  • My phone can be a distraction from activities which move me toward my goals.
  • My phone–and others’–can interrupt my thinking process and conversations.
  • I have to pay attention to make sure my phone is charged.
  • I turn to my phone for distraction when I have a few minutes instead using that time to think.

And of course, there are other benefits. I love music or audiobooks I can listen to in the car or elsewhere. I’m not a podcast listener, but I know many people love them. There are tons of apps that can benefit your life, from budgeting to exercise to, yes, prayer.

I want you to use your phone as a way to have a more meaningful life, not a less meaningful life.

Here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Make decisions about how you are going to use your phone. One example: I’m experimenting with turning to a daily prayer app instead of Facebook when I have a few minutes.
  2. Turn off notifications on most apps. This goes double for news headline notifications. Don’t let other people’s priorities and anxiety become yours via your cell.
  3. Carve out some time in your day when you are not available to anyone by phone or text.
  4. Read a book on your phone instead of scrolling through Facebook.
  5. If you are waiting, once in a while intentionally choose not to turn to your phone and just look around or think. Let your mind wander.
  6. Try a habit formation practice to slow yourself down (a la Stanford researcher B.J. Fogg). “When I pick up my phone to call or text someone, I say a prayer for that person.”  “When my phone buzzes with a message, I take one breath before I check the message.” “When I plug my phone in to charge, I give thanks.”
  7. Put your phone upside down when you are having a conversation (especially with someone you love).

How do you find your phone a blessing? What are your challenges in using it? (You might be addicted, or you might hate it.) Comment below and let me know.

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