Apologies for the cynicism but Simon Cowell not using his mobile phone recently is like Gwyneth Paltrow saying that she doesn’t see the need for housework. Someone is doing this stuff for them. It would have been far more impressive if Simon Cowell had restricted the use of phones by his staff. “The 58-year-old said that he had become infuriated by industry meetings in which everyone’s eyes were glued to their handsets”. Him and me both! 
 
We're all irritated when we're with others and they constantly check their phones. It's rude, disrespectful and largely unnecessary. What is worse, most aren’t even aware they're doing it. 
The fact of the matter is we have all become addicted. This is partly due to dealing with work emails and staying connected in this fiercely competitive world and is particularly true for the self-employed and small business owner. 
 
Also, we're addicted to the brain’s chemical buzz when we hear from those we care about. But the main reason is simple - everyone else is addicted. You hear from someone, you respond, give and take; this is how the “herd” survives. Reciprocity. We've all been sucked into the digital vortex. 
 
Today’s reality is that the overwhelming majority of us have no choice about using mobiles and other IT devices. It's as essential for modern living as motorised transport. Trying to live without this communication tool is like deciding never to use a car, bus, train or plane again. It just can’t happen at the moment. 
 
So, what about you? A recent study said the majority swipe their phones around 2,500 times per day and heavy users over 5,500. Think of the time taken and wasted by doing this. Add in the amount of time it takes to refocus on what you were doing, saying or thinking before and you can easily see how time is swallowed up. This increases stress, time pressures, affects overall concentration and results. 
 
Try running your life today if you work, commute and have children without using the phone – it isn’t going to happen. 
 
The issue isn’t about going cold turkey and not using the phone and all the other communication devices, it's about being more savvy and aware. Below are my best tips to start building awareness and reduce the amount of unnecessary time and cyber-stress that so many suffer from today:- 
 
Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed or at least for one hour. No electrical devices in the bedroom; use a windup alarm clock. 
If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-light blocking glasses. 
Only check emails every so often; switch off emails for certain times of the day to later download and read at your convenience. 
Don’t automatically copy in everyone each time you send an email. It probably isn't necessary and will reduce the time wasted by reading irrelevant and needlessly distracting communiques. 
Use the phone for its original purpose to arrange an appointment. Make a call (or ask your PA to) and cut out ping-pong emails and their associated frustrations. 
For report writing or projects that require total focus, shut yourself away on your own or work from home. Switch off all phones, tablets and other devices which buzz, ring, chime or make other distracting noises. Put up a 'do not disturb' sign. 
Lastly, and probably the most challenging but best tip of all:- Have a digital-free time or day once a week with family and / or friends and ask them to do the same. It could be from 12 noon to 4pm on a Sunday, time for brunch, a walk and making memories. This gives time to engage and share experiences. The Facebook posts or emails will still be there in a couple of hours but that moment of real-time communication, the here and now, is fleeting and can never be replaced. 
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