Mobile phones are ubiquitous - and that's not necessarily a bad thing

Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, it's more unusual now to spot someone who's not on their phone! In fact, according to statistics, 92% of UK adults owned a mobile phone in 2022, up from 62% in 2013 - a climb of 30% in under 10 years. That's staggering. Even in restaurants, you see groups of friends or family members sitting round the table, in their own little world, glued to a tiny lit screen, barely acknowledging each other. Where's the flow of chatter? The hilarious banter? How has it come to this?  

Granted, mobile phones are a great invention, there's no doubt about that. They encompass so many things in one aesthetically pleasing little package - camera, watch, entertainment, TV, films, gaming, diary, weather forecast, messages… the list is endless. But they can take over your life and disrupt your work pattern.

Remember, you're the one in charge of your phone, not the other way round. So take control and learn how to be mindful with your phone at work.

How to be mindful with your phone

New research from San Diego State Universityhas found that self-monitoring on your phone can actually enhance your awareness of smartphone use. This, in turn, can lead to positive outcomes for the user, along with an overall sense of achievement. Who knew?

Follow the tips below on how to be more mindful with your phone and use it in such a way that it doesn't detract from your job.

11 practical ways to use your phone mindfully

Have a screen-free day every week

In the words of Elsa, let it go. The average Brit spends 3 hours 23 minutes a day on their phones, which equates to 50 days a year! With the younger generation, not surprisingly, it's even more, with most 16 to 24 year olds spending roughly 4 hours a day on their phone, translating to 60 days a year.

Have a break from it and see where this takes you. If you can't manage one whole day a week, go phone-free for a couple of hours and increase the time over the following weeks.

Check… before you check

Don't become tied down to checking your phone every few minutes. Before you reach for it, stop and think. Do you really need to check out that latest Instagram post from a random person? Probably not, and it's certainly a lifestyle change that you can make without too much trouble.

Keep it on silent

That way, every notification that pings through won't distract you from your immediate task, or break your concentration halfway through an important duty. You could even turn your phone face down, so that you're not distracted when the phone lights up. Even more drastic is turning off notifications from apps that really aren't necessary. Is it that vital to know that Sarah in Hull has just taken her turn on Words With Friends in your ongoing Scrabble game? That can be saved for after work.

Hide email accounts

Watching those messages rack up on the screen can be totally stress-inducing. So put your accounts in a folder and shift it onto your second or third screen so that you don't see it every time you pick up your phone. Worried about missing an important message? If it's that vital, a member of your team or your boss will either call or text you.

Self monitor by setting limits on your screen time

Phones are increasingly set up these days to help you to limit your screen time, with some alerting you to your average weekly screen time and how it compares to the previous week. Just like you self-regulate with how you act at work, you can take control of your phone usage and set specific goals that are achievable.

Resist using it as a crutch

If you're bored, uncomfortable, or just don't want to engage with people, it's easy to reach for that rectangle of joy. But before you do, ask yourself, “what's the purpose?” If you're not needing it for directions or to actually make a call, why not embark in some mindfulness meditation instead?

Treat yourself to an alarm clock

Get the work day off to a cracking start by resisting the urge to have your phone by your bed, so it's not the first thing you see, or pick up, when you wake. Instead, invest in an alarm clock to get you up in the morning. It means you'll have to specifically seek out your phone once you're ready to get going with the day.

Be present in the moment

There's no need to have your hand clutching your phone at every instant throughout the day, just in case. While attending meetings, having a coffee with colleagues, or just walking round the office, leave your phone on your desk or tucked away in a pocket and go freely. Face-to-face communication won't then be interrupted by pinging notifications or breaking news flashes.

Designate phone-free areas in the workplace

No-one seriously needs to take their phone to the loo. That's just grim. As you would set healthy boundaries at work, you need to inform colleagues that certain areas in the office are out of bounds for phones, so real life… and work… can continue.

Go old school

Ever checked your phone just to see the time, then found yourself still on Facebook 40 minutes later scrolling through holiday photos from Sandra in Accounts? Where did that time go when you should've been toiling away at work? To combat unnecessary temptation, arm yourself with single-purpose devices, such as a watch or a radio, that'll encourage you to be more mindful with your phone. Then you can spend more time actually getting on with your job!

Fade to grey

All phone screens and apps are brightly coloured, making them more appealing, as colour is a known emotional and sensory stimulant. But what if the colour had been drained out of your phone? You're probably less likely to use it when it's not necessary. Known as “greyscaling,” the trick of removing the colour from your phone can significantly reduce its attention-grabbing appeal. Search up how you can do this online for your particular phone and see the difference it makes.

Mobile phone etiquette

While the etiquette on mobile phone usage varies on social occasions, when you're at work, there are some rules that seem to be overarching across the generations.

  • Make sure that your ringtone is quiet and doesn't emit a clanging noise that would disturb colleagues

  • Don't fiddle with or look at your phone during meetings

  • Remain focused on the person you're dealing with, whether co-worker, client, or line manager

  • Avoid taking personal calls at work - or keep them private, if it's a real emergency

Phone addiction - it's real

Phone addiction is a behavioural disorder where people become obsessed with their smartphones and are anxious without them. It can harm mental and physical health, relationships, and work productivity. It's exacerbated by a craving for that dopamine hit, a chemical in our brain that's activated when something good happens.

What are the symptoms of mobile phone addiction?

  • A desire to use a mobile phone more and more often to achieve the same desired effect

  • Persistent failed attempts to try to lessen the use of the phone

  • Being totally preoccupied with smartphone use

  • Excessive use of the phone, resulting in losing all sense of time

  • Putting a relationship or job at risk because of this excessive use

  • Turning to a mobile phone when experiencing unwanted feelings such as anxiety or depression

  • The need for the latest model of mobile phone and a never-ending stream of apps

  • Withdrawal when you can't use your phone, for whatever reason, which can lead to anger, tension, depression, irritability, and/or restlessness

What to do next

We never know what technology is just around the corner, or what newfangled gadget we'll be addicted to in 20 years time. But there'll be something else, for sure. What's important is to deal with the here and now. Being mindful with your phone could help to maintain your mental health, something we all need to consider.

You can learn how to be mindful with your phone and make it work for you, so why not do the same with your CV? If you're on the hunt for a new position, your CV has to make work for you, too. Submit yours for a free CV review and discover whether you're presenting the best version of yourself. 

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