limiting phone usage - how to gain creativity and be more productive

Phones can be really good. I don’t believe that having a phone sucks, but I do think that my phone has stolen me away from much of my time and creative inspiration. In honor of creativity, I’m including some photos from the weirdest creative shoot I last did to go along with some tips that have helped me limit my phone usage and get those creative & productive juices going.

[HUGE thank you to Chloé Bell, Liam Schultz and Michael Jared for modeling and braving the cold winds from the Falls of the Ohio. Y’all rock.]

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What has helped me the most with balancing phone usage is realizing how to use my phone for my advantage as a human and as a business owner. My phone is amazing for contacting clients, reading instead of taking paper with me on every wedding or shoot, for watching youtube videos or podcasts while I edit, for connecting with new clients through instagram, for calling Hannah Ours when I need to rant and using Headspace when I need to calm down (#nonspon). There are so many AMAZING things about phones. And so many not-so-amazing things, too. Like staying up till 2am scrolling through instagram comparing yourself to all the perfect people that seem like they have their lives together. I’m guilty. Or just constantly reaching for our phones, which snatches you out of the present moment and into mindlessness. I’m also guilty.

  • tip number one is to TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS. You don’t need to know every time someone likes your post, posts in a facebook group or messages you on instagram. I keep email and text notifications on so I don’t miss anything important.

  • set a time limit for how long you’re on social media. or how long you’re on your phone, if you are spending more time than you’d like texting. the iphone’s new update allows you to see how much time you spend on your phone and also allows you to set limits. I know there are apps like Moment that can help as well. here’s an embarrassing example on how much time I spend on my phone daily and weekly. (I don’t count youtube because I watch it while editing.) But 5 hours a week on instagram? not okay. I changed my limit to 30 minutes a day and I’m going to keep encouraging myself to stay below that.

Setting limits and goals really frees up a lot of time. I’ve found that filling this newfound time with other things besides phone usage has really helped me.

  • But what things have I been filling my time with? One great example is me blogging right now . . . phone usage hasn’t been the only thing sucking my time away, but it has definitely made more of my time disappear. Since become more mindful about phone usage, I’ve created more time to blog and improve the business. I’ve cooked more. I’ve read real books more. I’ve done more yoga and gone on more walks. I’ve journaled and cleaned our apartment more. You could even pick up a whole new hobby all together. Let’s say I wanted to limit my 5+ hours of instagram usage a week to 2-3 hours a week, that gives me at least 3 extra hours a week. You could do yoga for thirty mins 6 days a week or pick up knitting for an hour every other day. Fill that extra time with a goal of yours so you aren’t tempted to scroll and scroll.

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  • turn your phone OFF. or put it on silent. I’m working right now with everything on silent so I’m not distracted with texts from clients. I’ve also started sleeping with my phone in the other room and using an old-school alarm clock. It’s wonderful to not look at your phone first thing in the morning and I highly recommend it. I also like to go for walks with Trent while leaving my phone behind, so I can really soak in time with him. Sometimes I even turn my phone off for a whole day or a half day if I’m feeling especially overwhelmed by it. I’ll cover feeling overwhelmed in the next bit.

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  • Let’s say you’re overwhelmed by your phone. It might be easy for you to limit scrolling through ig or texting your buddies, but what about your clients? What if you’re running a business where it could be 9pm and a client has a question? I struggle real hard with this one and maybe I should do another post about it when I’m better at it, ha. What I’ve been learning is to set time boundaries and to encourage people to email me if they’re wanting to reschedule something or inquire about a date. Otherwise I’ll be eating dinner, be distracted by a text about needing to reschedule a photo session and then I get on my computer to look at my calendar . . . then before I know it I’m editing somebody else’s photo session and it’s 11pm. Set boundaries. One of my goals is to stop editing at 6pm and not be on my phone past 8pm. I’ve sucked at it, but I’m working on it. You have to set boundaries to avoid burn-out.

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  • I touched on this before, but I want to go into more detail. Use your phone for good things and use your phone to help you better yourself and your business, if you have one. Listen to an audiobook or a podcast. Call a friend who lives in a different state. Watch something on youtube that’s educational. Use a meditation app. Use notes to write down ideas. Don’t view your phone as an overall “bad thing” or addiction — use it as a tool.

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  • Lastly — don’t beat yourself up. I am working on this a lot. You might spend five hours a week on instagram right now or you might be spending 20 hours a week there. You might end up editing or doing emails till 1am. You’re gonna mess up. Don’t hate yourself for it, but encourage yourself to do better and set practical steps like the ones above to help you reach your goals. Your reward will be a happier, clearer, calmer and more creative mind. Don’t give up . . . it’s so worth it!

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