• Excessive cell phone use can lead to health problems as well as increased fatigue, lack of concentration and decreased effectiveness.
  • If you are using your phone for business-related activities, you are ringing your cash register -- if not, you're ringing other people's registers.
  • To reclaim your time, leave the phone out of the bedroom, do a pattern interrupt or follow the 5-second rule.

Your cell phone is the lifeblood of your business — but it also represents one of the greatest hurdles to your success.

If your phone is running your life rather than vice versa, it’s time to reclaim your bedroom, your bathroom and your sanity by freeing yourself from its mind-numbing influence over virtually everything you do.

Staging experts will tell you that master suites should be staged as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of today’s fast-paced world. Make sure there a plenty of pillows, candles and plush towels in the bath, beautiful soaps and all the other accoutrements that create a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere.

No one ever mentions staging a master using a cell phone.

Everyone knows the risks — but no one seems to care

You already know that hunching over your phone can lead to chronic back and spinal problems and that an increasing number of people are being diagnosed with repetitive motion injuries from using their phones.

Moreover, your mobile device’s screen emits blue light that can also seriously disturb your sleep cycle. In a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, researchers found that iPad users (as compared to those who read books using a dim light) had lower levels of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and had shorter dream sleep (rapid-eye movement, or REM) cycles.

The result is increased fatigue, lack of concentration and decreased effectiveness.

Your fingers aren’t doing the walking; they’re running a marathon

Dscout recently tracked 94 Android users for 4.5 days, cataloging every move users made. Here’s what it found:

 Totals for all 94 users in the study:

  • 1,120,317 total swipes and clicks
  • 60,003 total minutes
  • 33,090 total sessions

The averages:

  • 2,617 swipes and clicks per day
  • 145 minutes each day
  • 76 separate sessions per day
  • Over 955,000 swipes and clicks per year

The top 10 percent:

  • 5,427 swipes and clicks per day
  • 225 minutes each day
  • 132 sessions per day
  • Almost 2 million swipes and clicks per year

About half of the usage is on Google and Facebook. Other frequent activities include typing texts, swiping on Tinder and turning pages on Kindle readers.

Except for users who are reading or on Netflix, sessions are short. “Touches and swipes explode at 7 a.m. and ramp up until dinner time.”

What was especially surprising is that 87 percent of the participants checked their phones at least once between midnight and 5 am.

The dirty little habit

There’s nothing quite like hearing a toilet flush in the background when you are on a business call.

Mobile devices have replaced newspapers and magazines as bathroom reading material. People are surfing social media, sending email, and playing video games all while sitting on the toilet.

Estimates are that somewhere between 38 percent and 75 percent of people have this dirty little habit.

About 80 percent of people polled between ages 18 and 29 said that they engaged in this behavior, while only about 25 percent of those 60 and up said that they did this; 30 percent of users said they would answer the phone if they were in the bathroom.

Given that people use the toilet and then don’t wash their hands until they go to a sink, if you use your phone in the bathroom, you are transferring all those germs from the handles and knobs to your phone — lovely. (By the way, when was the last time you washed your cell phone?)

Ca-ching: Whose cash register are you ringing?

If you are using your phone for business-related activities, you are ringing your cash register.

If you are surfing the web, engaging on the social media, playing video games, or doing any of the million other mindless things people do with their phones, you are putting cash in someone else’s pocketbook.

How to reclaim your bedroom, your bathroom and your sanity

You probably know all these facts, but much like the smoker who realizes the risks of continuing to smoke, most people continue to engage in the same behaviors despite the risks. What does it take to control mindless cell phone use?

1. Stop using your mobile device in bed — in fact, avoid having it in your bedroom

Your mobile device is used for work. When you take it to bed, you are bringing all the stress of your workday into your bedroom.

If you are going to work, do it elsewhere in your house. Keep your bedroom for sleep and relaxation. If you like to read in bed, get a Kindle reader that doesn’t emit blue light or disturb your sleep pattern.

If you absolutely must have your phone in your bedroom, place it on the sleep mode setting that blocks all notifications and incoming calls, except from the numbers you designate as being important.

2. Do a pattern interrupt

Neurolinguistic programming practitioners recommend creating a “pattern interrupt.”

Here’s how it works. Your alarm goes off, you reach for your phone, and 45 minutes later, you have lost the time where you could have showered, dressed had breakfast and laid out your plans for the day.

To interrupt this pattern, place your phone where you must get up to check or answer it. Once you are up, put the phone down and exercise, shower, have breakfast and/or lay out your plans for the day rather than mindlessly diving into Facebook, YouTube or that favorite game.

3. Follow the 5-second rule

Mel Robbins’ new book, The Five-Second Rule, provides one of the most effective pattern interrupts I have ever seen.

Robbins says that you have a five-second window where you can break your mindless cell phone behavior. You merely count down “five-four-three-two-one” before reaching for your phone.

This seemingly simple behavior breaks the mindlessness cycle with the concrete action of counting. If you still need to use your mobile device, be intentional about doing so.

If you’re doubtful about how important it is to free yourself from mindless cell phone use, try these suggestions for one week.

Besides, wouldn’t you rather ring your cash register for an extra 72.5 hours per month rather than the cash registers over at Facebook and Google?

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

Email Bernice Ross

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