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Is your smartphone stealing your creativity?

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your smart phone? I know I do. I love how convenient it makes everything. Google is at your fingertips; so is Instagram, Facebook and Words With Friends. Your camera is always at the ready for the moment you see something inspiring or something you want to share.

The problem is that the constant readiness or attention to your phone could be affecting your creativity. Studies have shown that you need “boredom” to be creative. You need time to just be and let your mind wander. If you are always connected to your phone, this doesn’t happen.

Some of you remember before the days of cell phones when we didn’t have the distractions. Free time was spent playing outdoors or using your imaginations creating indoor games and stories. Here are a couple of ideas to limit use of your smartphone and instead recapture some of that lost creativity.

Move your smartphone away from your sleeping area.

Bank of America sponsored a Trends in Mobility Report in 2015 and found that 55% of users kept their phones on the bedside table, 13% kept them on the bed, and 3% actually slept with them in their hands. Crazy, right?

In its Global Mobile Consumer Survey in 2016, professional services firm Deloitte found that 10% of smartphone users look at their phones immediately (and not just to turn off the alarm), 33% look within 5 minutes and 52% look within 15 minutes. They are looking at texts, emails and social media.

The survey also looked at use during the night and found that one-third of users checked their phones during sleeping hours. Use ranged from checking the time to answering texts and emails.

If creativity studies are correct, this pattern of accessing your phone first thing in the morning wreaks havoc on your creativity from the moment you wake up. It doesn’t let your mind naturally wander upon waking and settle into a creative energy.

One way to combat this is to move your smartphone away from the bed. Put it across the room or move it to another room entirely. If it’s your alarm, you’ll have to get up to turn it off. The walk will help let you break the smartphone autopilot and perhaps allow you to brush your teeth and think about your day creatively first.

Can you imagine poet Mary Oliver grabbing her smartphone as she wakes to check Facebook? I can’t either.

Track how much of your smart phone use is on autopilot.

Much of that smartphone use first thing in the morning or when you wake in the middle of the night is autopilot. The phone is there and you just reach for it. Moving it to another room is designed to break that habit.

It might surprise you how often you just reach for your cell phone automatically otherwise rather than engaging in a conversation, enjoying your meal, taking a walk, being creative, or just being in silence.

Just an observation — I’ve seen people use their phones when others get up from the table at a restaurant, when their friend goes to the dressing room at a store, and at traffic lights. It’s as if people can’t be with themselves.

To get off the autopilot mode with your smartphone, track when you pick it up. Keeping a record of when you reach for your smartphone will let you see how dependent you are on it — and perhaps why are are in a creative lull. Once you start to notice this autopilot pattern, look for ways to disengage from this habit. It could be that you decide to turn off notifications, leave your phone at home, or eliminate some apps from your phone. I have a friend who decided to remove Facebook from her phone, so she could only access it on her desktop.

There’s an app for that

Not surprisingly you can find apps for your smartphone that help you limit use of your smartphone. Here are several to try:





It’s Your Turn!

Do you find that dependency on your smartphone has a negative effect on your creativity? How have you limited smartphone use successfully?



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One Response to “Is your smartphone stealing your creativity?”

  1. Bunnie Cleland said:

    I had not considered that my phone was intruding on my creative time, but I can see how it is.
    I also have removed the facebook app, and turned off most app notifications, like new emails.
    I think I may even set my phone for Do Not Disturb time not just at night, but during my “at work” hours. I have visual voice mail for a reason!
    Thanks for pointing out this “time vampire”
    Update: My phone has only one time per day for Do Not Disturb, so I made it from 10PM to next day 4PM, with alarms and immediate family calls as exceptions. Commence uninterrupted creating!!!

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