Clever ways to beat your smartphone addiction

Breaking the habit of repeatedly checking your phone can be hard. These tricks and apps will enforce some self-control.

The frustrating thing about a phone addiction is that unlike actual substance abuse, the solution is not to quit cold turkey. Instead, we have to find ways to use this technology responsibly, fighting apps overtly designed to steal our time.

Here are ten habits that help you control your smartphone use.

  1. Stop checking your phone when in line

For most of us, this is exactly what mobile phones are for. But if you want to lean into the boredom that’s essential for creativity and reflection, then stop checking your phone just because you are not doing anything for a minute. This might mean keeping your phone in a different pocket, so you can’t pull it out quite so unconsciously.

2. Turn off the notifications

Turn off all notifications that don’t require immediate action. You can probably leave calls and texts on, but turn off everything and every app with a `follow’ function. Turn off your email notifications too. When you download a new app, disable notifications.

  1. Don’t use your phone in bed

Establish a no-phone time in the morning and evening. To enforce it, use Freedom (iOS) or Offtime (iOSAndroid) to turn off all access to domains like Facebook, and Instagram. That way you can pick up your phone to check for important updates, while shielding yourself from your social feeds.

4. Stop checking your phone in the car

Stick your phone in the glove compartment. Android handsets come with a driving mode that switches you to voice controls. iOS 11 also includes an automatic `Do Not Disturb While Driving’ mode. If Google Assistant isn’t enough, download Drivemode for Android for a `no-look’ interface that automatically launches when you start driving.

5. Break the `checking’ cycle

Once you have checked your email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and so on, it’s tempting to start the loop all over again.

Instead check just one app at a time. Train your self to put your phone down after your intended action. Close apps as soon as you use them. And hide all your distracting apps off the home screen.

6. Choose an end point for your browsing session

Put your clock app on your home screen. When you open your phone, set a timer for how long you want to spend on your phone. Use QualityTime to limit how long you spend on specific apps. Also, try turning your phone off when you are done using it. This may be drastic. But try it just for a day and see the result.

7. Move your phone elsewhere when you watch TV or read

When you are out and about, it makes sense to keep your phone in your pocket. But when you get home, take it out. Leave it to charge, and try treating it like a home phone. The less often you check your phone, the less you get sucked into Twitter.

8. Don’t expect a quick fix

It’s difficult to find the right balance. We appreciate the advantages of a smartphone, and most of us use it more than we want to. These tricks work as long as you are paying attention to them, and apps keep finding new ways to invade your space. So, keep finding ways to trick your brain out of bad behaviour .

Original article at


11 Tips For Tech Etiquette In Office You Need To Know

As tech invades more and more of our personal and work lives, it is increasingly important that you are aware of these tech etiquette in office tips.

1. Mobile Phone Use

Everyone talks loudly when they are on a mobile phone–fact. There’s no avoiding it, as noise on either end often makes being heard and hearing others difficult. Good tech etiquette in the office suggests that you should consider doing the following:

– keep the call short,

– move to an area where you will not be disturbing others,

– arrange a call on a landline (better call quality means less shouting).

2. Social Network Use

Unless you are the social network tzar for your company or it’s part of the job, tech etiquette in office suggests that you should keep your social network use to a minimum. Find out about what is permissible by having a read through any IT policy and procedures. Take care to note whether your computer use is being monitored and limit social networking to accepted points in the day (usually lunch break).

3. Surfing The Web For Fun

Leave surfing the web for when you are at home or on breaks. Surfing web sites that interest you may help kill a few hours, but it also can prevent you from getting things done. Avoid this distraction at all costs and focus on the task in hand.

4. Device Charging

It is bad tech etiquette to unplug a device that is charging for someone else. Chances are, you will forget to plug the thing back in and may cause your colleague issues when they are out on the road or in a meeting. Instead ask to swap the charging device out or hunt for another plug socket.

5. Instant Messaging Abuse or Misuse

Instant Messaging (IM) has become an increasingly popular way of helping colleagues stay in touch. Less formal than an email, it allows short, sharp communication that otherwise might have needed a phone call. Be to keep your messages short and to the point sure when you are using IM. There is no harm in having your personality shine through in your messages, but steer clear of waffle and joke messages as you are likely to get ignored by colleagues when you actually need them to respond quickly.

If you receive a message, it is expected that you should reply quickly and succinctly–assuming that you are not in a meeting or having a person-to-person conversation.

And don’t use it to keep up to date with friends on the company dime.

6. Using Laptops in Meetings

Keep your laptop use in any meetings to a minimum. Only use your laptop for the benefit of the meeting and don’t start working on something else. If the meeting is focused and keeps to an agenda, there is no reason you should need use this as an opportunity to surf the web or respond to email.

If you find yourself in meetings where you could be more productive elsewhere, do your bit and excuse yourself. Don’t start messing about with your laptop and distract others in the process.

7. Printer Supplies

If you happen to run the printer out of toner or ink, do not leave it for someone else to replace. Do it yourself. If you end up using the last of the printer supplies from the stock cupboard, make sure you tell or email the person responsible for ordering replacements. Don’t assume that someone else will sort it. Same goes for paper or if you see any unusual flashing lights on a printer (they usually mean something).

8. Large Print Jobs

If you are going to send a large print job to a printer that will clog it up for more than a few minutes, do this:

– print on a printer that is rarely used, so it will not be noticed

– print at a time when others won’t mind,

– print after you’ve given your colleagues a warning.

9. Work Email Is For Work

Don’t use your work email to keep in touch with friends and family. This is for use for work only and can help you keep a good separation between work and home life. With the proliferation of great email services available from the likes of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo there is no reason why you would need to use your work email in this way. Instead set up a separate account.

10. Bringing Viruses To Work

Easier said than done. Make sure that any computers at home have up-to-date antivirus protection and regularly scan any USB drives that might come in contact with both work and home machines. Better still if you can avoid it, do not use USB drives for moving data between devices; instead, use cloud services, as these have built in virus-checking to prevent you from inadvertently spreading viruses on these services.

11. Get To Know Your IT Policies

Spend some time reading the IT policies for your work place. Whilst there are common threads across most businesses, there will be some nuances that are particular to your job and working environment. Your employer is entitled to monitor your IT use if explicitly stated within policies that are reference by your employment contract. So getting to know what you can and can’t do may at least save you a little bit of embarrassment or it may save you your job.

– by Gary Judge

Originally at



Fri 06 Dec 13

The More Time We Spend Online, the Less Time We Spend Working

What are we choosing not to spend time on to make room for the hours we all spend each week on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the like? While numerous articles have worried that such screen time might be coming at the expense of face-to-face socializing, a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests, happily, that that is a relatively small part of the tradeoff. But managers won’t find much comfort in the study’s conclusions. More than anything else, the leisure time we spend online comes at the expense of work.

In the paper, Scott Wallsten of the Technology Policy Institute attempts to measure the offline activities that are crowded out by our online recreation throughout the day, using data from The American Time Use Survey, a government survey that, since 2003, has been asking U.S. citizens how they spend their time. While there are several caveats to the research, it provides a quantitative view of what we do less of to make time for leisure activities online. For every additional minute the average American spends online recreationally, they spend roughly 16 fewer seconds working, nine fewer seconds watching TV, and seven fewer seconds sleeping.

Now for some caveats. In the time use survey, not all common online activities are collected in a single category, and some of the most common ones, including email, online gaming, and videos, are grouped with similar offline activities. (So, for instance, someone watching Netflix counts as “Watching TV and video” and someone playing video games counts in a broader games category.) The category of “computer leisure time,” which Wallsten uses to approximate online leisure time, mostly includes newer online activities that didn’t exist when the survey was created in 2003, including, notably, social media use.

In addition, the study deals with multitasking by asking respondents about the “primary” activity they were involved in at any moment in time, which one could argue fails to capture the use of computers and tablets alongside other offline activities.

Finally, time spent online and the offline activities it replaces vary significantly based on age, income, and other demographics. Not surprisingly, younger people spend more recreational time online, accounting for a higher percentage of their overall leisure time.


Other differences include the fact that women don’t let online leisure time crowd out household activities, whereas men spend eight seconds less on them for every extra minute online. And, somewhat disturbingly, 15- to 19-year-olds spend 20 fewer seconds on educational activities for every extra minute online.

While interesting, none of this will comfort managers concerned about lost productivity as employees spend more time online.

“If you imagine the tradeoff between watching Netflix and watching standard cable TV, that represents a huge fight within the video industry but it still might not affect the size of the economy,” said Wallsten. “But if you’re talking about it coming out of work time, then that could be a significant negative effect.”

And yet he cautions that such concern might be overstated, adding that “the numbers are still small enough that it’s conceivable it has no net negative effect on productivity.”

Indeed, other studies have suggested that workers can be be more productive when given regular breaks to browse the web. Moreover, for some workers at least, time spent on social media can improve work-related knowledge and skills.
If anything, managers should worry about that smaller chunk of sleep that gets crowded out by time spent online. The paper notes that those who can’t sleep might be spending more time online rather than time online causing people to sleep less. But if our online activities are in fact taking time away from sleep, that would mean a real impact on productivity.

– by Walter Frick

Originally at



Thu 24 Oct 13