Focus on What Matters: Why You Should Leave Your Smartphone in Your Purse

Focus on What Matters Why You Should Leave Your Smartphone in Your Purse

The biggest thing to take our attention these days is our cell phones. It’s so easy to “stay connected” with little dings and chirps letting us know that someone is messaging from facebook, emailing, texting, beating you at a game, posting a picture on Instagram.

Let’s face it, it’s fun. It’s so fun in fact that scientists say it gives us a brief “high” equal to a drug addiction.

Each time we dispatch an email in one way or another, we feel a sense of accomplishment, and our brain gets a dollop of reward hormones telling us we accomplished something. Each time we check a Twitter feed or Facebook update, we encounter something novel and feel more connected socially (in a kind of weird, impersonal cyber way) and get another dollop of reward hormones. But remember, it is the dumb, novelty-seeking portion of the brain driving the limbic system that induces this feeling of pleasure, not the planning, scheduling, higher-level thought centres in the prefrontal cortex. Make no mistake: email-, Facebook- and Twitter-checking constitute a neural addiction. <Read full article here.>

We feel important when we get a notification. It draws our attention so strongly that when we hear the ding we can’t focus on anything else until we see what it was about.

The sad part is, most of the time it’s trivial. An email subscription from a company you don’t care about, someone posted a picture of their lunch or forwarded a cute picture to you on Facebook.

Smartphones are stealing our relationship with the real world. I’m not saying I don’t want to answer a text from a friend or read an email from a client. But I don’t need to do that when I’m reading a story to my children or taking a walk with my husband.

Weaning yourself off the smartphone can be a challenge, but not impossible.

Start by turning off push notifications. It’s unnecessary to see everything instantly. Allow yourself to get used to some silence without your phone chirping at you.

Check social media at certain times of day. You don’t need to give it up completely- give yourself 30 minutes to check up on what’s going on and read messages. But keep it to once or twice a day. The average person checks facebook from their smartphone 14 times a day, so live life a while and then allow yourself to look at it when you know you need a break. (Remember the old fashioned tea time in the afternoon?)

Don’t check email on your phone. In fact, it’s best if you check it only at certain times of day. Emails distract and decrease productivity. Limiting how often you check your email increases productivity by a crazy amount, because it uses up so much willpower. We only have so much each day, let’s use it to do the things that are important to us (not the people who are emailing us)!

Every email requires a decision! Do I respond to it? If so, now or later? How important is it? What will be the social, economic, or job-related consequences if I don’t answer, or if I don’t answer right now? <Full article>

Put your phone on silent during important times of the day. For our family, this includes during homeschool and meal times. For me, personally, it means I leave it off in the morning when I’m working. It also includes when we go out to dinner, watch a movie or hang out with friends.

Have regular tech free days. Set aside a night each week or a full day to be technology free. Remember what it’s like to have quiet. Spend some time in nature without technology. Go camping and leave the phones home (or turned off). If it makes you nervous, purchase a set of walkie talkies for your hiking partners.

Vacation without your phones. Say what? Well, at least turn it off. Yes, we’re one of those horrible parents that doesn’t allow technology on our trips. I know it meant they couldn’t post a selfie of them at the Grand Canyon, but it also meant that we had to talk during the long car rides.

But what if someone needs to get ahold of me? Do what you are comfortable with. For me, when my husband and I go out, I have my phone on, in case the kids need something. As long as my kids are with me, I don’t worry about it and leave the phone silent and in my purse.

No one needs to know what you are doing and who you are with. Let’s face it- we can wear a mask on social media and it’s so easy to hide behind it. Our life can look so great posting pictures of us on the beach, the new outfit we got or eating dinner with a friend. But there is no need to show off or prove our worth. Let’s be an example of contentment. Just be.


About the author, Rachel

Hi there! I’m the Joyful Space Specialist. it’s my desire help others create a joyful space of their own and enjoy their time spent at home.


  1. Noel Green on 04/11/2015 at 9:29 AM

    Excellent article, Rachel! I do not have a smart phone, but Facebook and email are still a constant distraction for me. I’m taking your article as a friendly challenge to kick my internet “habit” for good. 🙂

  2. sheri on 04/11/2015 at 9:46 AM

    this is a wonderful article! I am 60+ years old and have gained some technology info in the last few years, but certainly not enough to be considered proficient. your info validates the value of performing a single task and doing it well, without the constant interruptions and feeling the need to split one’s attention between tasks. how liberating to know that the brain is intended to function in that way!

  3. Gordana on 04/11/2015 at 12:21 PM

    Thank you for sharing this! For years now I have felt iffy about that whole multitasking business and just plain opposed to the constant social media attention demand. You are lucky to have your husband on the same page with you on this one, mine still does not see how is this doing anything bad to our daily lives…. Just ordered Levitin’s book, thank you again!

  4. Caroline on 04/11/2015 at 6:36 PM

    Great article. Neither my husband nor I have Facebook accounts and we like it that way; however, we have a new baby (2 months old!) and many of our friends and family have mentioned that they would like to see updates of the baby on Facebook. We have discussed it and we’re not sure we want our baby on Facebook more than she already is! We regularly text photos to both sets of grandparents and the grandmas share the photos with Facebook friends. I’m thinking maybe I will post to Google and privately invite friends and family to view and maybe even request that the photos not be reposted. Has anyone else had this experience? If so, how did you manage it?

    • Laura on 04/15/2015 at 11:04 AM

      Hi Caroline,
      I try not to have my children’s pictures on Facebook, but I also have a lot of family and friends out of town who are interested in seeing my children through photos and videos. However, I got tired of contantly texting them. I found a wonderful App called “Tinybeans” that allows me to share photos and short videos of my kids to those folks who I have invited to view my album. I like this app because at the end of the day, once the kids are in bed, I can quickly upload the photos from our day and it allows family and friends to look at the photos at their convenience (rather than being bombarded with texts from me!). I’m not sure if they can save/repost the pictures, but no one has done so thus far. It’s been great for us and I promise, I have no affiliation with Tinybeans, I just really like it! Hope this helps!!!

    • MeG on 11/08/2016 at 9:50 AM

      We use a family blog that’s by membership only. My kids’ faces Are not on facebook — only occasional photos Of their backs. It’s your decision as a parent, not that of your extended family, if/how you choose to share photos, especially online. Think about it this way — would you Want to have your childhood photos (zillions of them) fully accessible to everyone your parents know/knew? Would you want Everyone knowing not Only about every milestone you reached, but every misstep you made too?

  5. Jill on 04/14/2015 at 6:18 PM

    Yes! Turning off push notifications and putting my phone into sleep mode during certain hours is a HUGE help. I am also thankful that I never signed up for Facebook!

  6. Heidi on 04/25/2015 at 2:33 AM

    This!! Agree 100% “No one needs to know what you are doing and who you are with. Let’s face it- we can wear a mask on social media and it’s so easy to hide behind it. Our life can look so great posting pictures of us on the beach, the new outfit we got or eating dinner with a friend. But there is no need to show off or prove our worth. Let’s be an example of contentment. Just be”

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