You’ve almost certainly heard the statement that our phones are making us dumber. This claim has been (and continues to be) researched by reputable institutions around the globe since smartphones became popular, and so far, well, the results are mixed. While our phone habits seem to have impacted our attention span and memories, there’s also evidence that we benefit from having easy access to more information than ever before.
Regardless of what the research says, smartphones are deeply integrated into our lives today, and that probably won’t change soon. So rather than be crushed that these technological wonders might be hurting us, let’s spin it around – if you use your phone in the best ways for you, it can be helpful, useful, and might even make you a bit smarter. Keep reading to get a few ideas about how you can use your phone to boost your brainpower.
Learn New Things
We have unprecedented access to all sorts of information about an endless number of topics. On top of that, online learning is having its moment in the spotlight and you can easily take courses on subjects you’ve always wanted to learn more about, and for very little money. Want to make the most of your phone? Get started learning!
Put Your Energy to Better Use
One of the great things about having a smartphone is having the ability to create and store notes, manage your calendar, make plans, and do all those things that help you be more efficient. Take advantage of those features to redirect your energy to the things that matter most to you.
Even doing things like using the timer on your phone’s clock widget to set work cycles for yourself can streamline your day and help you focus. And creating to-do and other tracking lists can help free up space in your mind so you can fully focus on whatever is in front of you.
Customize! Customize!! Customize!!!
Notifications. You probably know what I’m going to say next. While the dopamine rush we get from seeing a notification pop up from Facebook or Instagram is fun, constantly receiving notifications about items that can wait (they really can, promise) is far more distracting than you’d think.
When you download new apps, take the time to check Notification settings immediately after downloading, and adjust them appropriately.
For many of us, receiving text and email notifications is really all we need. Put the effort into making sure any interruptions you receive are truly worth the distraction.
Get Some Sleep
A large portion of us keep our smartphones nearby at all times, including when we sleep. And yes, sometimes mindlessly scrolling through social networks can be relaxing. But it’s well-known that looking at device screens (including computers and tablets) too soon before bed can impact our sleep patterns. To add to that, many of us pick up our phones if we wake up in the middle of the night, to.
So for one week, try to put your phone down at least a half-hour before you go to bed and leave it outside your bedroom. Pay attention to how you’re feeling as the week passes and, when it’s over, assess whether or not your sleep has improved as a result of this change. It can help you to mentally adjust by setting No Device hours for yourself.
And consider reducing the brightness of your device to reduce the possibility of having a glare disorder.
Put Your Phone Away
It is obvious we love our phones, but there is a time and place for them. Some research says that just being able to see your phone, whether it’s blinking notifications at you or not, is a distraction.
When it’s time to really get to work, or spend time with a loved one, or sink into a good book, put your phone away.
Tuck it into a drawer or put it in your purse or briefcase and leave it there. It might be difficult to do at first, and probably just as distracting as having it out in the open, but you will get used to it and feel more present in whatever you’re doing.
All these may not be easy, but the truth is that these devices that play such a big role in our lives today can make us smarter if we use them smartly