6 Ways to Wrest Back Control of Your Life From Your Cell Phone People check their phones every ten minutes instead of paying attention to what they are doing.

By Jacqueline Whitmore

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Sadly, there is something called "cell phone addiction". According to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer's annual Internet Trends report, people check their phones 150 times a day. Cell phone addiction has gotten so bad that findings from a University of Missouri study reported that being separated from one's iPhone can have psychological and physiological effects that include poor performance on mental tasks.

Are we really joined at the hip to our smartphones, or can we, as entrepreneurs, keep them, or our smartphone addictions, from distracting us from our work? Here are some tips to try.

1. Schedule calls.

Instead of hanging on your phone all times of the day, set a schedule for taking and returning phone calls and let people know. Post it in your email signature or on your website and incorporate your "business hours" into your recorded voicemail message. To stay productive and to avoid distractions, it's best not to be on call 24 hours a day.

2. Schedule email response times.

In this age of instant information, it's easy to grab the smartphone every time you hear a new message come in and lose focus on the task at hand. Instead, schedule times throughout the day where you will check and respond to email messages, ideally, one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Related: In a Catch-22, This App Rewards People for Setting Down Their Phones

3. Get voice message transcription.

With modern technology like Google Voice or AccessDirect, your voice mail messages can be translated into text and delivered to your email inbox. Instead of listening to long messages, scan through the text to get the gist of a message and its priority.

4. Use your voice mail message.

Instead of asking someone to simply "leave a message," give your caller instructions that will make your job of listening and responding easier. For example, set up a message that says, "Hi, this is [your name] and I'm away from my desk right now. Please leave your name, phone number, time zone, and the best time to return your call."

Related: Eliminate These 8 Distractions That Are Killing Your Productivity

5. Limit how long your conversations last.

Remember your basic telephone etiquette on every call. Introduce yourself when you pick up the phone and keep your conversations friendly yet attentive to the business at hand, and try not to let the conversation linger more than 15 minutes. Set a timer if necessary. Get to the point and close the call in a polite yet businesslike way. Smiling while you talking translates through the phone as friendliness.

6. Remove your smartphone from your desk.

If you find you are constantly distracted or lured by your smartphone, place it in another room or remote location where you won't be able to check it every five minutes. When it's sitting right in front of you, the temptation is far too great to see if anyone has tried to contact you, and even the lights and sounds of the smartphone can impair your concentration.

Set up the expectations that your messages and calls will be returned within a reasonable amount of time and others will respect your boundaries. This will also enable you to schedule your day better, with solid work blocks that aren't constantly interrupted. Your concentration and your productivity levels will soar.

Related: 6 Ways to Break a Tech Addiction

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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