Do you spend too much time on your smartphone? According to the New York Post, the average American checks his or her phone almost every 12 minutes, adding up to 80 times per day. In fact, most people are tempted to check their phones after just 10 minutes, and 60% feel stressed out when their phone is unavailable for use. Americans are very attached to and distracted by their smartphones, which can result in many negative effects, including loss of motivation, insomnia, anxiety, depression, decreased face-to-face interactions, and distracted driving.

With so many available functions on smartphones, Americans have endless access to information and support from Google searches to GPS navigation. Think about the many purposes you have for your smartphone. For example, ask yourself if you could get around without your GPS app. If not, you’re not alone. 41% of people wouldn’t be able to, either. With the world at our fingertips, the temptation to spend time on our smartphones can be strong.

Thankfully, there are many ways to cut back on smartphone usage, and there isn’t a better time to set new goals than before the start of a new year. Practicing healthy smartphone habits can result in a happier, more productive lifestyle, and will help you become more mindful in your relationships, hobbies, and work. Follow these practices to reduce smartphone usage for 2019.

1. Turn Off Notifications

Push notifications are very distracting. From social media mentions to text messages to emails to alarms, smartphones are constantly buzzing. Notifications can be difficult to ignore; many people like to experience the instant gratification of seeing who liked their new profile picture or reading texts right away. However, you can easily limit these interruptions by turning off push notifications for specific apps that distract you while you’re focusing on work or engaging in a conversation. Go to your settings and turn off notifications for social media apps, messaging, and email during times of productivity to see how your concentration can greatly improve.

2. Keep Your Smartphone Out of Bed

The last thing many people do before falling asleep is check their phone. However, the blue light from your screen can interrupt your sleep cycle if you use your phone in bed two hours before going to sleep. You will sleep much better and feel more energized the next morning if you keep your smartphone out of reach when trying to sleep. To start even healthier sleep patterns, let your phone charge overnight in a different room, and use an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake up in the morning to prevent yourself from scrolling through social media as soon as you wake up.

3. Set Limits

Apple and Android have caught on to the outcomes of smartphone addiction. Their new technologies include options for limitation on your device. iPhone users can now set time limits for specific apps and schedule periods of downtime away from their screens. Just go to “Settings,” “Screen Time,” and start setting limits for yourself. iPhone users can access this feature with iOS 12. Android’s Pie software allows users to set time limits on certain apps, view how often you check your phone, and how much time you spend in certain apps as well.

4. Start a New Hobby

Do you feel inspired to try something new and keep pushing the idea aside? If you can’t seem to find the time to incorporate hobbies into your life, your smartphone use could be to blame. If you spend hours scrolling through social media, don’t be ashamed, but think about how you could better spend your time by joining a community basketball league, learning how to cook, or volunteering in your community. You’ll feel much more accomplished by learning a new skill or getting active than staring at your smartphone for hours each day.

5. Accomplish Daily Goals First

Motivate yourself to not let your phone distract you right when you wake up. Instead, set the tone for a constructive day by hitting your daily goals before opening any notifications. If you work during the day, a great rule of thumb is to not check your phone until lunch time. You’ll be much more focused on your tasks and be less disrupted throughout the day.

6. Replace Screen Time With Healthier Activities

Think about your current routine. Do you set aside time to see your family and friends in person? Are you happy with your physical abilities? If your smartphone is distracting you from engaging in valuable experiences, start filling your time in healthy ways, like reading, having face-to-face conversations, exercising, meditating, painting, or baking. Practicing meaningful habits with less smartphone use can enhance your lifestyle and overall happiness.

7. Move Distracting Apps Away From Your Home Scree

Your most frequented apps likely exist on your home screen for easy access. You may even unconsciously pick up your smartphone and open these apps out of habit, resulting in accidental distraction from productivity. Limit your smartphone usage and increase concentration and awareness by moving your most enticing apps away from your home screen, or delete the apps altogether. Instead of keeping your home screen stocked with social media apps, keep educational and more purposeful apps at the forefront, like those for learning and reading.

8. Turn on Grayscale

Modern smartphone technology is visually appealing. The colorful display of apps and aesthetically pleasing layouts make our phones pleasant to look at. A great way to decrease smartphone usage is to turn on Grayscale to make your phone less desirable to see. Grayscale is a black and white display of your phone, so all of the vivid colors that you typically see on your screen are not there when grayscale is enabled. If you own an iPhone, locate “Accessibility” under your settings. Then, go to “Display Accommodations” and turn on “Color Filters” to access Grayscale. For Android users, locate “Vision” and scroll to “Grayscale” to turn on this option.

9. Turn on Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb is a great feature that smartphone users can enable to avoid distraction from text messages and phone calls when they don’t want to be notified. Android and Apple have recently taken Do Not Disturb to the next level with added options. Android users can now set a daily schedule to prepare their phones for bedtime. At night, Grayscale and Do Not Disturb can turn on at the time of your choosing to make your screen less appealing and mute notifications while you snooze. iPhones users have similar options such as “Do Not Disturb During Bedtime,” which will dim your screen and hide notifications through the night. When you wake up, your phone will read “Good Morning” with the daily weather until you open your phone to see any missed notifications.

10. Hold Yourself Accountable

Track your progress by installing time tracking apps, like Mute, QualityTime, or Moment, to set personal goals and report how well you follow them. Seeing how much screen time you actually engage in throughout the day can be alarming. But once you accept that you should spend less time on your phone, you can put these healthy habits into place and start monitoring your smartphone use for a happier, more productive you.

Limiting your smartphone usage and avoiding distractions will greatly benefit you on and off the road. By staying away from your phone while driving, you will be much more aware of your surroundings and decrease the chance of a crash. However, being alert behind the wheel isn’t always enough to prevent a car accident. Do you have a reliable car insurance policy in place? If you want to save money on your auto insurance, make sure to contact ABC Insurance Agencies. Call 800-708-0123, click, or visit a friendly agent near you to discuss the best policy for you. There’s always a better choice – we’ll find it!

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