It’s ironic, isn’t it?

Smartphones were supposed to be this breakthrough technology that would solve countless problems.

They were supposed to be great tools to help us be more productive, more efficient, and better communicators.

So what do we do when we get one of these powerful devices into our hands?

We play Angry Birds.



Smartphones Can Be Great Tools

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Angry Birds when I tried it.  It’s amazing that a device that fits in my pocket can multitask and handle all sorts of hardware and software applications. But there’s more to a smartphone than the number of games it can play.

Some of the most common uses of smartphones include using them for GPS, for taking pictures, and for tracking your runs.  They’ve become our own personal navigator, photographer, and trainer.

Beyond health apps, there are countless business apps that let us search for real estate listings, update spreadsheets, and even video conference with remote clients.  We take it for granted just how amazing that really is!

So yes, smartphones really are great tools.  But a hammer can still be used to destroy things…


Do You Control Your Smartphone Or Does It Control You?

I kept my clamshell phone for as long as I possibly could.  I could see all of my friends getting smartphones, and then all they would do is stare at their phones.  I didn’t want to be like that.  I wanted to interact with people face to face as much as possible.  I didn’t want to have to fight the temptation (that I knew would be strong) to check my phone every two minutes.  (Also, I didn’t want to have to pay for a data plan.)

Why did I wait?  Because I knew that once I had a smartphone, there would be no going back.

I finally got a smartphone a few months ago, and I have caught myself many times doing the exact thing I said I didn’t want to do.  I was checking my phone WAY too often.

If you have a smartphone, then you can probably identify with the feeling of needing
to see if you missed a message.  What was that notification?  Did someone text me?  Did someone post on my Facebook timeline?  Is it time to check on Farmville?  Is it my turn on Words with Friends?

Of course, we know it’s just a want, but it feels like a need.  Almost like an addiction…


My Name Is Jeffrey, And I’m Addicted To My Smartphone

Whew.  It’s nice to get that off my chest.  Do you have anything to share?  Wait, I didn’t mean on Tumblr, come back!  *sigh*

The smartphone is such a great tool, that we use it for everything.  Even when we don’t need to.  Have you ever used your phone to look for directions to a place, only to raise your head and see that it was right across the street?  I’ve seen it happen.

Many people debate the merits of smartphones, and how technology has changed our lives for the better (or worse), etc.  I’m not going to go into that.  But I will tell you what I think we’re missing out on when we are glued to our phones.


Do You Really Need To Check Twitter Right Now?

Smartphone - Texting

Here we see a man texting instead of talking.

The more often I look down at my smartphone, the more likely I’m missing some part of the world around me.  Earth is a pretty amazing place — and the great thing is that we are a part of it!  We can explore it whenever we want!  That is, assuming we aren’t too busy playing Fruit Ninja…

Not to mention the fact that there are people RIGHT IN FRONT OF US that we often ignore.  Did you miss the chance for your eyes to meet those of a beautiful stranger?  You’ll never know if you’re constantly checking how many Twitter followers you have…

Whenever I pull out my smartphone to check for updates of some kind, that’s time that I should be using to focus on a task.  In this case, I’m less productive because I’m distracting myself with my information addiction.

And whenever my phone dings, it’s an interruption.  Is it urgent?  Probably not.  But I still want to drop whatever important task I’m doing to see that Jared said “hey wuts up” (…don’t get me started on texting grammar).

If you do the math for the number of times you check your phone each day, you’ll be surprised at how much time you’ve given to your smartphone.  So much for it making you more productive.


Save Yourself From Your Smartphone

Step one: Remind yourself that if you aren’t careful, a smartphone is just another timesink.

Step two: Turn off notifications for apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Words with Friends.  If your job doesn’t absolutely require it, turn off Email notifications as well.

Step three: Uninstall as many games as possible.  Especially the ones that have no foreseeable end (like Tapped Out, Clash of Clans, Tiny Tower…).

Step four: Set rules for your smartphone usage.  For example, you can’t use your phone at the dinner table. Or, you can’t play games at social outings.  Ideally, tell a friend about your rules so they can help you follow them.

Basically, make your phone less and less distracting.  Try to use it only for productive or helpful tasks, like calling people (oh yeah, I almost forgot it was a phone, haha), or for GPS.


And So, Owner & Smartphone Lived Happily Ever After

Remember, you have a phone for your convenience.  Try not to let it take over your life!

Do you have any other suggestions for managing your smartphone usage?  I’d love to hear them — leave them in the comments below!

Secret code: DC558ZW99RKN