Last week I found myself in an interesting situation. I was six days away from exams with my brain fully immersed, not in my studies, but in my phone… I was doing just about everything that should not be done when trying to prepare for exams. After discussing the subject with friends, I realized that skylarking on the phone is a plague that is by no means unique to myself. We all have paid a price for our phones, we ought to get the most out of them and avoid wasting our time. After spending some time thinking about the subject, I have come to the conclusion that the element of purpose or reason was and is missing in my phone usage.

To Transform the smartphone from a liability into an asset I asked myself: “why am I using this right now?” What I discovered was that I had no answer. I could not say why I was on my phone or even say what I was looking for! Therefore, all I needed to do was start giving myself real reasons for using the phone. This we can call implementing the elements of why and for what. Both these elements are nonexistent when many of us use our phone and I think we ought to change that.

Using the phone without a reason (a why or a what for) is like climbing a bare mango tree in hopes to find some fruit that you have never seen, heard, tasted, or even imagined before. You are likely to find a fruit but it will not be what you expect because you don’t have any expectations at all. Contrary to this, the logical reason for climbing a mango tree is to pick a mango, unless of course you are under the age of 14. Without knowing why you’re on your phone and for what reason, you will inevitably end up on it for the entire day. Precisely because, like the mango tree analogy, you are trying to find something you know nothing about. Consequently, because you know nothing about it is you want, you will not know when you have had enough or when you have even had anything at all. This is the number one reason why a purpose for using the phone must be clearly understood.

The next time you pick up your phone ask yourself; “why am I using this phone?” and “what am I looking for on this phone?” With this simple and practical implication even if you’re only using your phone to call, message, or make fun of Karishma or Keston, you can at least know that when you have completed these tasks you can move on with your real life and not be sucked into the cell phone trap.

James David Lanser is the editor and founder of 868 Media. He is a 21-year-old Trinidadian born writer and journalist whose work typically explores social, economic, political and cultural themes. To contact James, you can email: