09/08/2010 02:27 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Breaking the Cell Phone Habit

I must confess that I love all the apps on my iPhone and the ease with which I can check my email or do web searches. I recently created the Mo's Nose App for the iPhone which is a "yelp for pet owners." It also includes a bonus game, thereby making me responsible for adding to the overwhelming number of apps and other enticing distractions. Despite this, I truly believe that cell phones should be tools that we use when we need them instead of appendages. My grandmother used to say, "the phone has no constitutional right to be answered." At the time, I would shake my head in amazement as she would let the phone ring and ring. Now, I think that she was right.

Last year I traveled to a remote island with an ancient culture. There was no cell phone service, Internet or TV.

After a day of technology detox, I felt deeply relaxed and there was so much space and calm that I could focus and think creatively for longer periods. When you are not constantly interrupted, you give yourself the space to contemplate and think. Scientists have begun researching the effects of technology and constant stimulation on the brain; the studies are indicate that the more technology and stimulation, the less focus. However, there is an antidote for this that seems to reverse the effects: less cell phone; more nature. Therefore, I have come up with some suggestions to help detach from your cell:

5 Easy Steps to Breaking Your Cell Phone Addiction:

  1. Turn off your cell phone while you are driving.
  2. Pick one evening a week that the cell phone goes off at dinner time and stays off until the next morning. Gradually increase the number of nights a week. (If you are worried about work calls, start with a weekend.)
  3. Once a month participate in something outside where you will be surrounded by nature and you have to unplug from technology and the cell phone. For example, take a walk, hike or bike ride on a trail, beach or natural space near you.
  4. Turn off your cell phone when you are in a meeting or having a meal with someone.
  5. Keep a journal where you write down your feelings and reactions to turning off the cell phone. Reread your earlier entries after you have been trying the steps for a month.

I have been weaning myself off my cell phone for the last year. There are times when it wasn't easy and that included some people getting frustrated when they couldn't instantly reach me, but overall, I am more relaxed, focused and productive. As Plutarch once said, "Silence at the proper time is wisdom, and better than any speech."