wellness

"I was so deeply embarrassed": The moment Téa's friend called out her phone addiction.

Téa Angelos was raking in over 12 hours of screen time on her phone every day when she first considered she might need to cut back.

Like many of us, her phone has become intrinsically linked with her work - Téa is the founder of the Smart Women Society, a community that provides women with career, money, wellbeing and love advice. Being connected is essential.

But it wasn't the way that her device interrupted her sleep each night with notifications buzzing from under her pillow, or the migraines she was having due to non-stop blue light exposure that prompted her to change her habits.

It wasn't her lack of ability to focus, daily eye aches, or skyrocketing anxiety. It was actually a dinner with a few close friends that left her feeling "deeply embarrassed".

"We were discussing our latest life updates and as usual, I was flicking through Instagram stories at the same time. It went quiet for a moment and my friend looked at me and said, 'Téa, can you please put your phone away? You’re always on it and honestly, it’s rude'.

"My face immediately felt flushed and despite apologising profusely, I was so deeply embarrassed. I knew it was bad, but I just couldn’t stop... [At that point] I knew I had to make a change."

As the productive woman she is, Téa devised a plan to bring down her screen time without cutting her phone out completely, and allowing her to keep up her social media presence.

It involved implementing five rigid boundaries.

1. Making her bedroom a phone-free zone.

First, Téa whipped out the big guns. With evening doom-scrolling being one of her biggest screen time culprits, she committed to leaving her phone in another room when going to bed in the evening. 

"I now leave my phone to charge in another room so I’m not tempted to scroll until the early hours or check it as soon as I open my eyes in the morning. 

"My pre-sleep routine now consists of writing my to-do list and schedule for the following day then reading a few chapters of a book. I even bought an old-school alarm clock for my morning wake-up," she told Mamamia.

2. Not checking her phone as soon as she wakes up.

"As an extension to the boundary above, I avoid checking my phone for the first 30-60 minutes of my day," Téa said.

That means breathing exercises, journalling, getting dressed, eating breakfast and getting into a good headspace, all before switching her phone on for the day. 

Sounds productive!

3. Turning off notifications.

"To stay productive during the day, I have implemented ‘focus’ blocks where I do my important work tasks without distractions. During these blocks, I use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ and ‘Focus’ features on my phone to silence notifications and alert others that I am not available," Téa said.

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"Outside of my focus periods, I have also permanently turned off notifications to my social media apps and have my email notifications switch off outside office hours. The constant buzz of a notification would always make me immediately stop to check it but now that they are silenced, I find myself reaching for my phone far less."

4. Allocating specific times to check social media.

When social media is an integral part of your job, it can be very easy to slip into a procrastination trap that will eat up your afternoon. That's why Téa timeblocks social media for work purposes and personal use.

"I put a time limit on these blocks and once the time has run out, I stop and move onto my next task," she said.

"Implementing this has allowed me to stay in control over my phone usage while also feeling less guilty for checking social media."

5. Putting her phone away when with others.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, Téa has cut out any sneaky Insta Stories checks while out with others.

"Gone are the days of having my phone on the table next to me. It now sits either in my bag or in another room," she said. 

Another great hack Téa suggests is having all your friends put their phones in the middle of the table during dinner so that no one is able to go on their device. 

"Iif anyone does check their phone for a non-approved purpose, they have to foot the entire bill!"

Side note: Listen to Mia Freedman's chat with Johann Hari about how technology is stealing our focus. Post continues below.


Setting boundaries with technology can be tricky, but it can also be extremely rewarding. 

As well as a decrease in general stress and anxiety and stronger friendships and relationships, Téa thinks establishing boundaries with her phone has helped clear her mind.

"I have seen a big increase in my focus and productivity. Instead of the constant distractions, I can now deeply focus on a task and get it done much faster."

What boundaries have you set with your phone? Let us know in the comments below!

Téa Angelos is the founder of online education company, Smart Women Society. Smart Women Society empowers women to get smarter with their money, careers, wellbeing and love lives. Check them out at smartwomensociety.com and join their community on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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