I just asked myself this question: When was the last time in the past one week, that I had a time-off from my phone?

Tough question. I have no answer to that.

My phone means a lot to me.

In the morning, it tells me when I need to wake up. Then after I am awake, it will give me some updates on work. While getting myself ready for work, it knows my mood whether I’d want to listen to some music or podcasts. It will help me check on the bus schedule or if I’m gonna be late, it will get me a cab to work. On my way to work, it will give me all the update on what is happening in the life of my family and friends or in the bigger world out there.

During work, not only it helps me during my usability testing, it also gives me some break from work. It connects me with the world outside of work.

When I get back from work, it will keep me company with all sorts of entertainment. Music, video, podcast or simply a connection to some people.

Isn’t it amazing what a phone can do?

I have read some articles talking about how the impact of phone addiction is equivalent to taking substance, such as tobacco and alcohol. When I read those articles, I’d quickly dismiss them; thinking to myself, “Meh. I am not that addicted to my phone. I think I am better than some people.” But after I quickly reviewed how my phone played a pivotal role in my daily life, I repositioned myself again.

“May be I am addicted to my phone”.

Recently I have a conversation with a friend. What is interesting in this conversation is how she showed me an app that’d track the usage time of her mobile phone. It’s an app called Moment, if you want to check it out. She felt her phone has been taking over her life.

It didn’t hit me hard until I watched this TED talk. In this talk, the speaker, Manoush talked about how boredom can actually lead us to have more creative and out-of-the-box thinking process.

Then I posed another question to myself. When I get bored, what do I do? I play with my phone. I will unlock my phone and got immersed into the world of information. Getting updates is not necessarily a bad thing. But when does it become a bad thing?

Not allowing ourselves to think and talk to our inner self, that is the bad thing.

I like how Tom Kelley, a partner at IDEO (one of the most respected global design and consulting company) put it. Here is an excerpt from him:

“Everybody is creative. Everyone already has creative thoughts. Ask yourself this question: When during the day, that you might prone to have the most creative thought? If you are not sure of it then be mindful in the next 3-4 days period. Most people fall under the same pattern: during in the shower.

You know why? Because there is no email in the shower.

No Angry Birds.

No distractions.

The mind goes wandering. It can be in the shower, during the commute or when out for a walk. First, discover that time. Second, be super protective of that time. If it’s during commute time, then don’t listen to radio nor audiobooks. That time is super precious so protect it. Third, capture ideas during that time.

“The mind goes wandering”, Yes. Then there it goes another question. “Within this week, when was the last time I let my mind wander?”

I couldn’t remember when. Because whenever I got bored or when I got in my commute or when there’s any free time, I would resort to my phone.

It turns out that my phone has become the noise that blocks out the creative and future thinking process.

First step to fix things is acknowledgement. I acknowledge that my phone though has been very loyal and resourceful in my daily life, it also has become the blocker. Next step is the hardest one, a change of mindset and a change in behavior.

As phone has slowly taken over a big part of our daily life, we also need to be more responsible with it; be more mindful of the time spent on the phone.

Now, if you’re reading this from your phone, you know what to do 😉