You can break the addictive reward feedback loop that our phones put us in.
Success in business often means your personal life suffers. Stress and anxiety can quickly get out of hand. Author and entrepreneur Arianna Huffington, formerly of The Huffington Post, believes our addiction to smartphones is a big accelerator of our stress, and that turning them off will result in more productivity and a healthier lifestyle. And she's got a new app to help you do just that.
The average smartphone user checks their device every six and a half minutes or about 150 times a day, according to Thrive Global, Huffington's latest venture. Outside of work, 89 percent of smartphone users say they used their phone at their last social gathering and weren't happy about it.
Huffington's new THRIVE app hopes to help users find a balance between technology and humanity. The app, a partnership between Thrive Global and Samsung, helps you take a break from your smartphone by blocking apps, notifications, calls and texts during certain hours when put in "Thrive" mode. You can also set limits to how much time you spend on certain apps. The app allows you to create a VIP list of the contacts who are the only ones allowed reach you in Thrive mode.
Using the app isn't the only thing successful people can do to reduce stress and improve work-life balance. We recently caught up with Huffington to get her tips for being productive and happy, and to learn more about her latest venture.
Q. What has been your main goal with Thrive Global and now this new app THRIVE?
A. Our mission with Thrive Global is to end the stress and burnout epidemic by offering companies, individuals and communities sustainable, science-based solutions to enhance well-being, performance, and purpose, and create a healthier relationship with technology.
It's that last one that the THRIVE App is for. You really can't talk seriously about overall well-being without talking about how we use technology. Obviously, it allows us to do amazing things, but it's also sped up the pace of our lives beyond our capacity to keep up. The THRIVE App helps us take back control of our relationship with technology by giving you the tools to take a break from your phone. This helps to unplug and recharge, and connect more deeply with yourself and others.
Q. An app like THRIVE is a single tool to help people focus more in their day-to-day lives. What are some other techniques these same people can do on their own to become more productive? Is there a mental state of mind they should strive for?
A. The mental state of mind would be one that's not caught up in the addictive reward feedback loop that our phones put us in. The THRIVE App is meant to be just one tool that helps break that feedback loop. Other ways are to build time without your phone into your schedule. A good way to do that is to set aside time at the beginning and end of each day to designate as phone-free time.
At night, charge your phone outside of your bedroom. Our phones are repositories of everything we need to put away to allow us to sleep – our to-do lists, our inboxes, our anxieties. In the morning, instead of reaching for your phone right when you wake up, take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set your intentions for the day.
In addition, you can try things like going to lunch without your phone and doing family dinners with no screens. As you notice the benefits to your health, productivity and relationships, it becomes easier to add more time into your life to unplug and recharge.
Q. Beyond being focused in your work life, what are the benefits of putting away your phone in your personal life?
A. What the science shows is that we're calmer, more focused, more creative and able to connect more deeply when we're not having to consciously or subconsciously attend to our phones and the inevitable interruptions they represent for us.
We know from studies that even a phone that's not being used – but that might buzz or ring at any second – decreases our empathy. As Thích Nhất Hạnh, the renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk, put it, "it has never been easier to run away from ourselves." The THRIVE App is a way of helping people reconnect with themselves as well as others to have deeper, more meaningful relationships.
Q. THRIVE is meant to help you take a break from your phone. What are some ways to train your willpower so you can take a break from other daily distractions?
A. Willpower isn't a fixed biological trait – it's something that needs nurturing and resources. For instance, studies have shown that sleep deprivation lowers our self-control and increases our impulsivity. So willpower is just another example of how all aspects of our well-being – both physical and mental – are deeply interconnected. Getting enough sleep gives you more willpower to take breaks, which in turn helps you sleep better and the cycle continues.
The THRIVE App is meant to be an entry point into a healthier cycle of well-being. One of my favorite phrases is, "Whatever your entry point, take it." Creating a healthier life always begins with microsteps – small, actionable changes that you can take right away.
For more of Arianna Huffington's thoughts on balancing work and well-being, read her interview on our sister site Business News Daily.