You know how your whisky-swilling self sabotages sober you’s resolution to get fit? Well that same inability to delay gratification is about to become even more stark, thanks to a hidden iphone feature that shows how addicted you are to Instagram.
If you take a squiz at the battery settings of your mobile you should now be able to see exactly how long you spend on distracting apps like Facebook and Instagram. We tapped in with an air of cool detachment, expecting to see a solid three or four hours.
Little did we know our curiosity was about to blow up in our faces: turns out we swipe away 11.2 hours of our lives a week on Instagram alone.
Distraught, we hit up Geoff Quattromani, tech commentator and lifestyle editor of EFTM, to ask if we should check into rehab. Luckily for us: he has the same problem!
“I recently started tracking my activities on my phone to see where my attention was also… 3 hours per day on Instagram is not uncommon.”
When asked whether he notices himself spending more time on his phone, Geoff said, “Absolutely, our phones contain the apps that drive our lives, whether it is communicating with people or booking a ride, we’re living our lives through that screen.”
“Gone are the days we use them for a phone call and playing Snake.”
But it’s not necessarily a bad thing, he argues. “I think from a productivity point of view,” he says, “Checking our phones, scrolling our Insta feeds etc. can be a great way to tune out and then go back to what we need to do. It’s the fastest method of escapism, it shows you things you might aspire to—and they could be motivators to work a bit harder… or open your wallet.”
“The problem,” he continues, “Comes from keeping your phone beside your keyboard and being distracted by a notification that you just cannot wait to check.” This is why, “Setting time aside to check your phone is a habit many need to adopt, like the smoko of the old days.”
This can cause serious problems to your productivity, creeping into your psyche without you even realising. A study this week, for example, demonstrated that sporadically checking your smartphone while learning a skill significantly affects your performance when tested.
According to Geoff, “It is only a bad thing if it is impacting your deadlines and the people around you.” For him, the worst impact of smartphones on modern life is, “How often people still pick up their phones when they’re in a conversation with friends and family.”
“If I am on the phone to you, no one dares interrupt someone on the phone. So why is it ok when the situation is reversed? If I am talking to you in person and that phone beeps or rings, why should it interrupt us? That is where I think people forget what is really important.”
But back to work: phones take us away from our “flow state” in which we are most productive, enabling us to act on every half-lazy whim, interrupting our own thought process to have a break we wouldn’t otherwise have taken.
For those of us with no willpower, Geoff has a couple of tricks that will boost productivity. “The first part is to become aware. Installing apps like Moment and LifeCycle will give you a good representation of what is happening in your day and how you’re spending it. If you want to reduce it then setting goals is important; was it 3 hours on Instagram yesterday? Let’s see if we can reduce that to 2 hours the following day.”
You can also, “Ask those around you for help, (because) more often than not, it’s the people around us impacted by our phone use. (So) tell them to pull you up, or put your phones in the middle of the table during a meal.”
This ‘addiction’ gripe is becoming so strong that the next update of iOS for Apple devices has been designed to help you curb it. This means apps like Moment won’t be required anymore—because iOS will have this built in—so you’ll also be able to set real restrictions on your app use where after, say, 2 hours of use in a 24 hour period, elected apps will go dark, giving you an indication you’ve used your time up for the day.