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7 ways to effectively utilize the time spent on your smartphone
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Let's be honest; we could all use a little help with this. So here you are. - photo by Lacey Pappas
Are you a parent that feels guilty about how often you look at your phone? Here are seven ways to utilize time spent on your smartphone effectively:

1. Dont check your phone in the morning

How tempting is it to grab your phone first thing when you wake up? If you use your phone as an alarm, turn off your alarm, and then put it back down.

Give yourself time to wake up, brush your teeth, kiss your kids when they wake up, and make breakfast. Then, once everyone is settled in after your morning routine, give yourself a little time to check your emails and some of your favorite apps. Once youve checked everything out, put it back down, and set your timer for when you can pick it back up again to browse.

2. Take advantage of the calendar

The calendar app is a life-saver! If you have a significant other you want to sync with, you can use Google Calendar to look at each others appointments and other scheduled events.

Input any and all appointments you have, and then refer to your calendar at the start of each week as a refresher, and in the morning when you do your browsing session. That way, you wont miss a single appointment, or forget someone importants birthday.

3. Keep notes on your phone

If you are like me, things are easily forgotten. From must-have items at the grocery store, to your next must-read, to the funny phrase your child said; jot it down in the Notes section of your phone instead of trying to remember everything.

4. Look at messages before driving

Before you start driving in your car, give yourself two to three minutes to check your messages and apps, so you wont be tempted to look at your phone while driving. If anything is pressing, take care of it then and there, or after you get to your destination.

5. Use your camera

Doesnt the saying go, "A picture is worth a thousand words"? Let yourself give into that need when the moment strikes, but dont go crazy. Allow yourself to live in the moment too -- without your phone.

6. Remove any apps that are time-suckers

Do you find yourself checking your phone for one small task, and then realize you're browsing through Instagram and Facebook without even realizing it? This can lead to mindless browsing, which can suck away minutes of your day, all day, leading up to a lot of wasted time.

To help cope with mindless browsing, remove any apps that you find yourself not benefiting from. You dont have to stop looking at these altogether, but access them in a different way, like logging in manually each time, so you arent tempted to look at them as often throughout the day.

7. Give yourself a cut-off time

Finally, give yourself a phone cut-off time to put the phone down -- for good -- for the rest of the evening.

You and your spouse can determine a time together to help stay off of your phones, in order to really enjoy your evening together. If needed, allow yourself a little time beforehand to browse and enjoy the fun side of having a smartphone so you aren't tempted to pick it up later.

Then when you pick up your phone again, youll enjoy it all the more.