Are you reading this blog on your phone? If not, maybe it's right next to you or just a few feet away. Like many people, you probably find yourself scrolling through social media, reading news stores, or getting lost on YouTube or Wikipedia. It's nothing to be ashamed of - it's the way our world works today. If you look back just ten or 15 years though, not everyone had a smartphone. Are we happier now than we were then? Not necessarily. Though smartphones are touted as the ultimate tool to increase your productivity and connect you with the world, they sometimes do the opposite. Our lives need balance, and using our phones more won't necessarily help us find that balance. Instead, it may be time to dial back the smartphone usage and focus on more important things. Read on to learn how to make this goal a reality. 

Be Aware Of Problematic Usage

The first step towards being less distracted by your phone is understanding how and why your phone distracts you. Do you find yourself picking it up when you're bored or frustrated with your work? Are you on your phone during social engagements or meetings when you should be focusing on what's going on around you? Do you make excuses about your usage increasing your productivity, even though it doesn't? We often use our phones mindlessly and before we know it, hours have passed. But you can get back in control and put a stop to this cycle. 

To start, be aware of your habits. Technology has become demanding of our time, and it can really put a drain on our relationships, energy, and mental health. Watch how you feel when using your phone. Are you using it to procrastinate instead of tackling work or chores or engaging with people in real life? Think about how you could be using your time better. Really ask yourself if you need to be connected at all times. Chances are, once you're more aware of your phone usage habits, you may see it as more of a problem than a helper. But recognizing that it's an issue is the first step towards making positive changes!

Limit Phone Time

Using your phone from time to time is ok, but it can be helpful to establish firm rules for its use. For example, limit yourself to ten or 15 minutes on your phone every few hours, or use it only when you're on breaks from work. Turn off notifications that grab your attention the most, or put your phone on silent for the majority of the day, and make friends, loved ones, and colleagues aware that you'll only answer their messages in the case of emergency. Keep your phone in a drawer, in your purse, or even in another room to get it out of sight. When it's not right in front of you, you'll find yourself thinking about it less and it won't be so easy to reach for every few minutes. 

Like any addiction, it can be seriously hard to break that habit at first, but it will get easier with time. Set a clear goal about what you expect from yourself, and stick to it. Think about the particular habit you'd like to break, whether that's not checking your phone immediately upon waking up or putting it away during meetings or mealtimes. Find a friend or loved one who can help keep you accountable and remind you when you're using your phone too much. 

Uninstall Tempting Apps

Everyone has those apps that distract them the most. For some, it's social media, for others, it's gaming. You may be tempted to check stock prices every few minutes or grab your phone every time you get a new email. Make note of which apps tend to suck up most of your time, and think about whether you truly need them in your life. Keep your phone as bare-bones as possible, installing any app you find yourself returning to too often. Facebook and Instagram are fun, but it's easy to just scroll through them endlessly, and we often find ourselves seeing other people's posts and getting jealous or comparing ourselves to others. Social media can sometimes cause us to set unrealistic goals or forget about what's really important. 

There are even settings that now come standard on iPhones and Android phones that can help you limit your time using certain apps if you aren't ready to commit to uninstalling them completely. Become familiar with how to use these features on your phone and put them to good use! These apps can also help track the time you spend on certain apps so you can become more familiar with which are the worst offenders. 

Reduce Your Reliance On Your Phone

We've become so reliant on our phones for everything, but the truth is, it's not necessary. Remember what people did before smartphones were so common. We kept track of things in other ways that were just as effective. While phones are great for calling and texting, we can still strive to establish in-person connections, disconnect from constantly being bombarded by news, pick up a paperback instead of an ebook, take a walk outside instead of playing a game on our phone, and use a weekly planner to keep track of all of our most important dates.

The Ultimate Weekly Planner can help you take back control and prioritize your time instead of centering your life around your phone. With our planner, it's easy to visualize important dates and events, and it gives you a great place to journal out your thoughts and feelings. A weekly planner can help to eliminate some of the major stresses in your life and get back on track. 

Organization is key to calming the chaos in your life, and while technology can certainly be a lifesaver sometimes, it's common to become much too reliant on it. If you want to get back in the driver's seat and put your problematic phone usage to rest, get started with these tips!