How to Take Meaningful Breaks from Your Phone For those of us who clearly remember a time before smartphones, it’s easy to see how this technology has changed us and our relationships.

In the morning, instead of quietly waking and adjusting to the light of day, so many of us grab our phone and check our alerts—before we even set our feet on the ground. During coffee or meals with loved ones, we incessantly check our devices—only half listening to the conversation. When hiking through a beautiful landscape or witnessing a life-changing event, we’re peering through our screens to get the best shot for Instagram. And that’s just a snippet of how our lives have changed.

5 Ways to Take Breaks

While this technology is certainly here to stay, it doesn’t mean it has to take over the world around us. You are in control of your day, your relationships and your habits; so harness that willpower and use these ideas to tune out the noise and enjoy the life in front of you.

1. Whenever you get home, leave your phone in your bag or drop it in a basket by the door. If you’re worried about missing an important call or an emergency—think about getting a landline or digital home phone. If you have kids, having a home phone isn’t a bad idea.

Tip: If you have a smartphone, set up an auto-text reply to go out to people who call or text, asking them to reach you at your home phone.

2. Put your phone in the backseat (the trunk is even better) when you’re driving. Not only does the phone distract you, but you’re missing out on some great downtime to listen to music, think or just take in your surroundings.

Tip: Auto-text replies come in handy here, too. Set up a reply alerting people you are driving and will get back to them shortly.

3. Set designated “shut-down” times. Before dinner, have everyone drop their phone into a basket or leave them in their rooms. When you head outdoors for some quality family time, don’t bring them along. We did survive in a time before cellphones!

Tip: If you make this a regular thing—it’ll become easier for your family to break the habit of using phones during family time. And hopefully it’ll carry-over to the next generation!

4. Leave your phone in the car when you’re meeting a friend. If you’re concerned that someone at home may need you, let your family know where you’ll be. If it’s truly important, they can call the place of business to get ahold of you (that’s how we did it in the old days!).

Tip: Ask your friend if you can both go “phone-free” for your coffee or lunch date and enjoy some genuine, uninterrupted conversation.

5. Too hard to leave the phone behind completely? Set it to airplane mode or turn off all your notifications. Then pick times you can check your phone—perhaps every two hours or at 42 minutes after every hour. Find what works for you.

Tip: See if your smartphone has a feature to set “quiet hours.” On most Apple devices, this feature is called “Do Not Disturb,” which only allows calls from specific people to come through. You can also set it to ring if a number has called twice in less than three minutes.

How to Take Meaningful Breaks from Your Phone