Take a look around you and you will see so many people’s eyes glued to their phone screens. Social media, checking your email, news notifications, and more: they are killing your creativity. Not only ‘artistic’ creativity but also the creativity you need for problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking.
There are many reasons to love our smartphones: They are cameras and DJs, they allow us to keep in touch with family and friends, they tell us about traffic and weather, they store our calendars and contact lists and they have the answers to every question we have.
However, there is a flip side to it. Our phones negatively impact:
- physical health (RSI, neck/shoulder/back problems, too much inactivity)
- mental health (depression, anxiety and loneliness)
- attention span
- the capacity for deep thought
- and more
Phones, and especially the apps on them, are designed to get us addicted to spend as much time as possible on it. That is exactly how your phone is killing your creativity.
Brain overload is killing creativity
We reach for our phone almost every moment we have nothing do, because it is easy and we’ve made it a habit.
Whenever we’re waiting – for the elevator, for the bus, for your friend to arrive – or just to kill time in between activities: our phone is there to keep us company.
This means our brains are always stimulated and have no ‘free moments’ to reflect on things we just read, heard or worked on.
Overstimulation leads to brain overload, making you unable to store information or process it in a way that makes it useful.
Brain overload disables you to effectively solve problems, come up with new ideas and just to focus in general.
I don’t spend that much time on my phone
Before moving on to some solutions to take back control over our smartphones, you might think that your phone usage “is not as bad as other people”.
You can easily check your screen time and how often you pick up your phone in your phone’s settings.
- For iPhone, go to Settings > Screen time > See all activity.
- For Android, go to Settings > Digital Wellbeing and parental controls > Digital Wellbeing.
For your reference: US adults check their phones 344 times per day. That is once every 4 minutes! And they spend about three hours a day on their phones (which leads to 44 full days a year).
More than a third looks at their phones within five minutes of waking up and over a half do so within fifteen minutes. How about you?
Let's get started
There are a few seemingly simple actions you can take to cut down your phone use and “de-numb” your brain:
- Set up No Phone-zones. This could be your dining area, office meeting room, etc. Your bedroom should be a No Phone-zone; get an alarm clock and change your overnight charging spot.
- Do not look at your phone in the first and last hour of the day, for less stress and better sleep.
- Turn off notifications for fewer distractions. You can keep notifications for text messages and Whatsapp, but otherwise turn them all off (yes, also your email).
- Check your email only at set times during the day. This will improve your attention span and productivity. Ask people to call you if there is a real urgent matter that needs immediate handling.
- Do not grab your phone whenever you have a free moment or when you are waiting for something. Observe your surroundings or listen to your own thoughts.
It says seemingly simple because you are most likely hard-wired to do the opposite of these actions.
Willpower and self-discipline are necessary for these actions to become your new habits. But if done right, you will become more creative and more importantly: you take back the control your phone has over you.
Is social media one of the biggest reasons you reach for your phone?
Doing a social media detox will have a huge impact on your overall phone use. Get the free Social Media Detox Guide to help you prepare for a successful social media detox.