‘It’s relentless,’ the god-like figure says to me. ‘From 7 a.m. things are coming in. All day – even when I’m in meetings, mealtimes. Until late at night. It’s the 24-hour news cycle.’
I’m talking to a top figure in an elite organisation: someone I respect and trust.
In fact, this person is almost a household name. Most people would see him or her as someone who has risen to the top through an awesome combination of intellect, charm and hard work. Yet this person is struggling to cope with information coming in on one device – a Blackberry.
What chance do the rest of us have? You may be addicted to multiple devices.
When Blackberrys were first introduced, people called them Crackberrys. No wonder. Ten years later, our smartphones are one hundred times more addictive – an addiction as strong as alcohol or gambling, as the video below (watch it later!) points out.
What can you do?
I set out some initial thoughts on how to smartphone detox last year, inspired by a savvy 21 year-old (now 22) and some Sipsmith gin.
I failed to follow my own advice. It obviously wasn’t good enough. Let’s try again.
Your steps to smartphone detoxing are as follows:
(i) you should acknowledge that you are addicted; and that this is a problem;
(ii) you should want to do something about it, and make a note of actions you will take;
(iii) you should, like an alcoholic, decide initially to do without your smartphone for short, manageable periods;
(iv) you should put your smartphone in another room for 15 minutes. Make sure the sound is on, but turn off all notifications (Facebook, Instagram, e-mails, Twitter etc – google if you’re not sure how to do this). Leave the smartphone out of sight, but within hearing distance. If someone needs to contact you urgently, they can call you and you can answer the phone;
(v) you should slowly increase the smartphone-free period to 30 minutes or longer;
(vi) at first, you will be surprised how often your hand goes to your empty pocket or that place you keep your phone. Give yourself a pat on the back or a chocolate or other treat each time this happens and you do not get up and go to your phone;
(vii) you should, if e-mails or Tweets or Facebook posts are part of your job or existence, schedule them. Say to yourself: “I will issue a Tweet at noon at at six p.m.” This puts you, not your phone, in charge;
(viii) you should schedule treats, such as watching TV, going for a walk, reading a book, browsing my excellent blog site or going out with someone, and insist to yourself that during this pleasurable activity, you will not look at your phone or respond to buzzes or other alerts;
(ix) you should watch the video below. I don’t agree with all of it (the “millennials” I know have just as good an attention span as previous generations) and I don’t believe this guy – did he really just extemporise all that? But he makes some good points about addiction and what Mindfulness aficionados would call “living in the moment”;
(x) you should get started right away – not tomorrow or next week or in half an hour, but now;
(xi) you should let me know if this helps, or if you have any better ideas. You can use the comments form, below. Your feedback may help others to become a little more god-like.