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"Can't you put that phone down??"

Do you find yourself having difficulty with time management when it comes to social media or checking email? Our phones have become ubiquitous; we are dependent on these little computers in our pockets for communication and connection with others. How do we mindfully manage these devices so we control them, not the other way around? (And stop our parents or loved ones from nagging?) We want to nurture our relationships and be productive at work, but our devices can get in our way.

A few small steps can help you feel better about your relationship with your smartphone:

1. Befriend Airplane Mode. It is a handy check on silencing your phone and its notifications of phone calls or notifications that you don't highlight as favorites when connected to wifi.

2. Silence notifications. Those red dots and little pings are known to increase brain chemistry that is implicated in addiction. Reduce this impact by eliminating these little distractions.

3. Check your email 2x day, not 10x a day. If you need to reply to more email than what can be read just a couple times a day, talk to your supervisor and consider what can be done to be more productive in your job.

4. Put your phone in a tech-happy basket. It should be in a main room at work and home, and for all devices during important times such as dinnertime, breaktime, or bedtime. Better yet, keep it there a few times a week and only pick it up a couple times a day.

5. Download apps that can help with smartphone reliance, such as Moment (iOS) or Offtime (iOS and Android). They can be be helpful to enact ways to reduce wasted time spent on your smartphone.

We need our phones; they are a great, often necessary way to connect with others and find information in a easy and reliable way in this fast-paced world we live in now. Mindful awareness of what role these devices play in our lives is important if we want to experience life to its fullest.

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