Killing time. It’s an awful phrase, and one that I catch myself using WAY too often. On top of that, I think its definition in the 21st century is ever broadening. With an incredibly convenient, innovative, vibrating, beeping, annoying “time killer” in your pocket at all waking hours, WE are to blame for quality time lost with family and friends while we are immersed responding to Facebook notifications, playing that god-forsaken pile of crap and frustration- Candy Crush, and looking for every opportunity to post a “selfie” in whatever environment will gain us the most likes on Instagram.

IHOP Cell Phone Meal FamilyRecently, I’ve become so much more aware of how much time I actually “kill” around family and friends. We just finished celebrating Christmas and New Year’s, so I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family. On top of that, my beloved Pop-Pop passed away on New Years day; a cause for more family time.  Of course, when someone like your grandfather passes away, you instantly wish you had spent more time listening to stories, and telling yours (so he can be proud of you, of course) instead of texting, and flipping through social websites and applications.

So I’ve been taking stock of how much time I’m distracted by my cell phone, and how many times I feel it vibrate and rush to grab it from my pocket only to see something that is so completely unimportant in the grand scheme of things.  I was astonished!

The numbers

  • I get an average of 60 push notifications per day on my cell phone…
  • They are from four email addresses, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram, Google+, text messaging, application updates, and GroupMe to name a few.
  • On top of that, I answer at least 5-10 phone calls per day and I tend to answer wherever I am.
  • They last anywhere from 2-45 minutes each. Yeah, I’m a talker.
  • 2/3 of the time I’m in the presence of others when these distractions arise.
  • I take my phone out to flip through the above mentioned applications about 15-20 more times throughout the day, just because I’m not being entertained by someone else.
  • This amounts to HOURS of missed REAL HUMAN interaction each day! (I haven’t been adding up the actual minutes lost with family and friends, because I’d rather not hate myself that much.)

Now I know why they call them “push” notifications: Because it causes you to push real human interaction out of your life.

There is hope! YOU are the one in charge, not your phone! Here are some tips for you to minimize distraction from cell phones so that you may interact with those you love and get to know others.

4 Ways to Kill Distraction, and Spare Your Humanity

Start off slow…Try one of these for 30 minutes today, and increase the time each day to your level of comfort! See how much you like having your humanity back!

  1. A good start: Take your phone out of your pocket/purse and set it to vibrate. Put it on a hard surface, so if someone REALLY needs you they’ll call and it’ll buzz unrelentingly.
  2. This may hurt a bit: Put it in a different room and let that sucker charge. That way when you actually need it it’ll be ready to go!
  3. You may feel a slight pinch: Use the “Do Not Disturb” feature on your iPhone or “Blocking Mode” on Android. (Tip: Works on tablets too!)
  4. You want me to do what?!: Turn the damn thing off.
Phone Stack

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/brixton/

An AWESOME game to play with friends when you’re out to dinner!

Phone Stacking Game rules:

  1. The game begins when you sit down for dinner at a restaurant
  2. Each person puts their phone in a pile, face down, in the center of the table (see image)
  3. No one may pick up their phone during the meal.
  4. The first one to give in and use their phone must pay for the ENTIRE party!
  5. If no one gives in, split the bill normally.
  6. The game is over when the bill comes.

There are also some great software applications out there (like Anti-Social or Cold Turkey)  if you’re guilty of being too invested in social media while at work or school.

So…Start enjoying time with those around you! When you’re in the same room with other carbon life-forms, interact with THEM, talk over dinner, watch a movie together, sing a song, or cuddle up and just enjoy silence. Feed your SOUL not your CELL.

What tips do YOU have for minimizing distraction by your cell phone when in the presence of others? Please share in the comments section below.

I’ll leave you with this thought-provoking video courtesy of YouTuber charstarleneTV

Resources and Inspiration:
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/01/welcome-to-paris.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/01/the-phone-stacking-game-picture_n_1929162.html
http://michaelhyatt.com/075-my-top-10-productivity-hacks-podcast.html