Think about how much attention you devote to your phone. Do you ever:

  • Read or respond to a text message while having a face-to face conversation with someone?
  • Look at your phone when your child or significant other is conversing with you?
  • Take a non-urgent phone call when you're physically present with other people?
  • Scroll through a social media app during lunch when your coworkers are eating at the same table?
  • Procrastinate the work you need to get done by using apps on your phone?

These are all behaviors that are counterproductive and can be harmful to your interpersonal relationships.

According to Deloitte, 85 percent of Americans own a smartphone and they check their device an average of 52 times a day. While that may not seem like an outrageous number, think about how many minutes you spend on your phone once you wake it up. According to one estimate, this can work out to more than three and half hours a day.

If spending less time on your phone sounds like something which could bring you more peace and an increased ability to pay attention to what's actually happening in your physical space, there are a few tricks which can help.

1. Turn off "raise to wake"

Most likely, your phone is set to alight every time someone picks it up. This is a distraction which likely entices you to find something to click on. Instead, make it so your phone stays dark when it's picked up. Just go to Settings >>> Display & Brightness >>> Raise to Wake. Shut it off. If you actually need to see your display again, just press the power or home button and everything you need to access will be right there, as usual.

2. Turn off notifications

Shut off all notifications except those which involve actual people trying to reach you. You should especially shut off email notifications because of the plain fact that you will always have new messages, so it's a waste of your attention to know every time a new message lands in your inbox. And if you have a fear of missing something on social media, just know you can check your app whenever you want. Facebook or Instagram pushing you notifications all the time is an unproductive and mindfulness-killing hook for your attention. To turn off notifications, go to Settings >>> Notifications and click through every app loaded on your phone. Each one has an Allow Notifications button which you can slide off.

3. Set your display to grayscale

This one is for people really serious about spending less time on their phones. The iPhone's colorful display absolutely begs to be tapped on, so when you make it black and white the temptation almost turns into a repulsion. If this hard-core hack is something you'd like to try, just go to Settings >>> General >>> Accessibility >>> Display Accommodations >>> Color Filters. Just make sure the latter is clicked.

Published on: Jan 28, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.