The way smartphones have created an addiction is by the buzz or the ding that sounds for every notification. People crave for it.

We are now in the smartphone era where people carry at least one phone. We have thousands of apps which serve different purposes. Your friend is just a text away, a television arrives at your doorstep with just a few taps and you can reply to an important email while you are in the shopping mall.

Smartphones have helped people do things which were impossible a decade ago. However, as goes the same with any technology, it comes with its own repercussions which many do not realize or agree with.

Smartphones for a majority is a form of distraction. People end up spending hours on apps and other activities which add no value. The phone has now become an addiction where people feel uncomfortable without it. When the battery shows below 5% with no access to a charger, a chill runs down the spine of many and a jolt is literally felt in the body.

In most cases, charging the phone after 2 hours makes no significant difference, however the panic that is caused is more than that of a natural calamity.

There is no surprise that power banks are selling like hot cakes.

These days people feel the need to click pictures or take videos on priority. People at a concert are busy taking a video of the whole event. The video in most cases won’t even be watched again. Instead, living in the moment and enjoying the show would be more memorable and leave you with a better story to tell.

How smartphones hurt your productivity at work

How many times have you been distracted by an insignificant distraction by your smartphone? Have you been in a meeting where your phone beeped, distracting you and everyone else impacting a free flow of thoughts or the discussion? If you have a discussion with a team member placing your phone on the table(face up or face down), it is a problem to rectify.

How notifications create an addiction

The way smartphones have created an addiction is by the buzz or the ding that sounds for every notification. People crave for it and have to peek into their phone.

In most cases, it is a notification that your bank has a better credit card for you or a group message that today is the day when the earth, Jupiter and the center of milky way galaxy are aligned in a straight line. However, the need to check the notification is felt immediately.

When you are in situation where you hear your phone buzz in a distance and circumstances prevent you from checking what it is, a level of uneasiness is felt. You feel relaxed only after you have read what it is.

Some feel the need to check their text while driving. Even if the text is as unimportant as “what are your plans for the weekend”, some people even feel the need to reply immediately even if the weekend is a few days away and their instant reply makes no difference to the plans.

Research says that texting and driving is equivalent to driving under influence, if not worse. The amount of accidents caused due to usage of phones is the proof of this.

Science explains the reason behind this by attributing this to Dopamine, a chemical released by the neurons. Every time you hear a buzz and check what it is, a dopamine rush is felt in your body. Dopamine, when released into the body, leads to a feel-good factor. This is the same feeling that you get when you complete a pending task. Dopamine in itself is highly addictive. Dopamine is what creates the addiction to completing one task after another which is the positive side of it. On the other side is the addiction that goes behind dopamine which can create negative effects too.

What notifications do to you

If you look at it rationally, over 90% of those notifications do not need your immediate attention. Is it a priority to know if a follower of yours liked your recently posted Instagram picture? Even if it was someone whom you secretly had a crush on, that could wait. No one would come running into your arms just because they liked your picture.

How important is it to get notified about a joke that a person whom you barely know sent to a group? When Tinder tells you that you could swipe right again, it does not mean that swiping right immediately will bring you and your soulmate together(if Tinder even serves that purpose).

Notifications are a distraction. Ask yourself, how often has a notification been really urgent? How many times have you been completing an important task or having a conversation with a loved one only to be distracted by an useless notification?

The urge to check the news feed

Social Media have realized the human addiction behind the need to check the news feed every now and then. It is a common practice to browse through the news feed on Facebook or Instagram when you feel distracted.

Ask yourself, how important is it to know where your distant relative is flying to or what your one time acquaintance had for lunch or where your ex-colleague is intoxicated downing a few shots of tequila?

What news feed does to you

What most people are unaware is that checking newsfeed leads to exhaustion of energy. This is because even when you are going through the news feed, you are forced to make a decision. The decision could be as simple as: should you click on some post or should you like or comment on it.

Nevertheless, it is still a decision to make and every decision leads to fatigue and consumption of blood sugar . When your blood sugar levels are low, your ability to make good decisions is paralyzed.

Try reading news feed for a couple of hours and you will realize the amount of energy that your brain ends up draining in the process.

How to get over the smartphone addiction?

The intent of the article is not to educate people to stop using smartphones or the leisure apps on it altogether. It is well known that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

After a notification is heard, resisting the urge to check what it is, is a difficult battle to win against yourself. Therefore, the idea is to reduce notifications as much as possible.

Turn off group notifications:

There is rarely an occasion where any question asked in a group chat is a question of life or death. If it is, know that people have your phone number and they will call you. You could turn on notifications of very few groups on if there is a dire need.

Turn off social media notifications:

Turn off notifications of most apps unless you see a need to attend to it immediately. For example, if you are a blogger and you feel that every comment must be responded to immediately, it is your discretion to turn it on.

Convince yourself to turn off notifications from apps such as Instagram. I cannot think of one single person who needs to urgently look at an Instagram notification.

Turn off read receipts:

If you turn these own, the sender is aware that you have read the message. This compels you to reply. Also, in some apps like What’s App, if you turn read receipts off, you will not know if others have read your message. This stops you from stalking people. If a person read your message and chose to not reply, there is nothing you can do about it. Knowing it only makes it worse. Maybe he/she was busy and you might even needlessly react. In this case, ignorance is bliss.

Stop reading newsfeed every now and then:

Resist the urge to look at news feed time and again. This does not mean that you should not look at it at all. Do it at your leisure.

Reduce text notifications:

I cannot turn off my text notifications completely because some of them need my immediate attention. However, this also creates a lot of notifications from marketing SMS. Every time you receive one, tag it to Do Not Disturb. Though I have not been able to eliminate unnecessary text notifications completely, today I receive very few.

Do not check your phone as soon as you wake up:

Stop checking your phone immediately when you wake up. What if you woke up 30 minutes late? If it was that urgent, people would have called you. The purpose of this is to take a step towards getting over the addiction of the smartphone.

Keep your phone away while you sleep:

Stop placing your phone underneath your pillow while you sleep. This would wake you up unnecessarily when a beep sounds. This breaks your sleep cycle and if it happens multiple times at night, you wake up the next day without enough sleep.

You may place it at an arms distance if you manage a critical project which requires you to pick calls 24/7. Do so if you really think it is necessary. Let people know that they should call you at night for any urgent issues.

Outcome: When your phone beeps, you should be sure that it is something that needs your attention.

When your smartphone is used for the right purposes without it being an addiction to unnecessary things, it can do wonders for you. When smartphones stop distracting you, the amount of productivity boost that it provides is colossal. It might not seem much, but I have personally felt the change just by reducing the notifications. A clutter free and unperturbed mind can get more things done quicker than you imagine.

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