How many times per day do you check your phone?
If you are like the average American, that number hovers around 80 times per day.
Or if you’re a millennial, it might be a staggering 150 times per day!
Chances are you instinctively grab your phone when waiting in line at Starbucks, when bored in a meeting at work, and probably even when you’re stopped at a red light.
Although you might not want to admit it, you could be on your phone for over three and a half hours per day (the average for US adults), which adds up to more than 50 days per year!
The reality is that the average person checks their email 15 times per day, and workers spend 6.3 hours a day checking and responding to emails.
What is this addiction to our phone — and constantly being connected — doing to us?
It making us seriously stressed out.
Nearly one-fifth of Americans say their use of technology stresses them out, and stress levels run highest for “constant checkers.”
Additionally, constant checkers feel disconnected from their family — even when they are together — as a result of technology, and are less likely to meet up in person with friends and family because of social media.
Research shows that people who frequently check their email are more stressed than those who check less often. The effects are worst for people who check email constantly after work hours.
Technology use is a controllable source of stress. And it is wreaking havoc on our health.
Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease in the world.
Your phone — filled with all of your email and social media scrolling — is a verifiable stress-inducing machine.
We need to gain control over our technology if we want gain control of our health and wellbeing.
If you are ready to make a change — and take control of your devices — here are a few rules to live by:
Do not check email immediately upon waking or last thing before bed. This approach is championed by Tim Ferriss who says that email first thing derails your priorities for the day and email right before sleeping gives you insomnia. Putting this into practice has been a life-changer for me.
Schedule 2–3 blocks per day for email, instead of constantly reading and responding as new messages come in.
Never reach for your phone while driving or stopped in traffic. If necessary, pull over to set your navigation or respond to a message.
Try leaving your phone in your pocket the next time you are waiting in line. Look around you and see what you notice when you aren’t buried in your phone.
Leave your phone in your pocket the next time you meet up with a friend. This will work wonders for your relationships. If need be, excuse yourself to take a call that requires immediate attention.
Unplug after work hours. I personally go offline for 12 hours each day — from about 8pm — 8am. I also try to avoid email and social media for one full day each weekend. Keeping this schedule enables me to ‘down shift’ and prioritize my family and my health.
You don’t need to tackle all of these right away. Start with just 1–2 of these habits and see what happens to your stress levels and general wellbeing.
Once you start seeing the benefits, maybe you’ll go phone-free more often.
There is no way to truly experience life if you are head-down in your phone.
It’s time to put the phone down and start living.
Andrew Merle writes about living well, including good habits for happiness, health, productivity, and success. Subscribe to his email list at andrewmerle.com.