10 Ways to Break Your Phone Addiction
By Cara Batema
Just when you think you can set your phone down for a minute, you get a ping notification for an e-mail, someone has liked your Instagram photo, and some rather annoying individual has started yet another group text chain. Before you know it, you’ve been on your phone for an hour (or more, let’s be honest), and you’re swearing you’ll spend less time on your phone. Cell phone distractions are endemic to the devices, but you can follow some tips to ensure your phone doesn’t become a controlling significant other.
Monitor Your Usage
You might be wondering, “do I really need to break up with my phone?” If you can’t be honest about your usage, your device will be. Download an app that will monitor your usage and show you just how many hours you spend on your phone every day. You can also set up alerts when you use your phone too much.
Time to put your adult pants on, set some restrictions for yourself, and try a digital detox challenge. Find times throughout your day when you can be free of your phone. For example, during dinner time, set the phone on a charger, turn off the sound and ignore your phone while you enjoy a nice meal. Focus on your food and mindful eating rather than distracting yourself with technology.
Use an App to Get Off of Apps
Some of us have more discipline than others, which is okay, and there are apps to help you spend less time on your phone if you need that extra push. Try an app like Freedom or Flipd to block you from using predetermined apps on your phone. Since you’ve probably read about the awful effects of too much screen time before bed, block social media or email or other tempting apps two hours before bedtime and force yourself into a healthier habit.
Turn Off Notifications
It’s ridiculous to assume that you’ll turn off your phone altogether, but you can turn off non-essential notifications. You don’t need to know every time someone likes a post, and you certainly don’t need a “ding” for every junk e-mail that comes to your inbox.
Use Silence or Do Not Disturb Functions
You might be addicted to your phone when the pings titillate your nervous system and you must look at your phone—RIGHT NOW. Don’t be that person out with friends who leaves the sound up on the phone such that it interrupts conversation will actual human beings in front of you. Also utilize your phone’s Do Not Disturb function, so you can have it automatically send a message back when you’re driving, or so that it just won’t bother you when you’re in a business meeting or sleeping.
Keep It Out of the Bedroom
We’ve already determined that you need to break yourself from the habit of soaking yourself in social media and blue light right before bedtime. If you don’t still have one, go buy an old-fashioned alarm clock that will no doubt make an annoying sound when you need to wake up, so you can leave your phone in the other room.
Discover Other Ways to Use Your Time
Get a hobby, read a book or magazine, or organize a social gathering. Staying on your phone is a total time-suck, and you might be surprised with how much extra “stuff” you can get done when you’re not using that time on your phone.
Make a To-Do List
Have you ever had a sink full of dishes, carpets that needed a vacuum or a dog that needs to go out for a walk? And have you ever ignored said duties because you got sucked into the cycle of checking and re-checking your phone, playing some games on it, then checking notifications again? Make a to-do list, write it down, and put your phone away (use a Cube Tracker on it just in case you forget where you put it). Now you can’t pick up that phone again until you’ve crossed off everything on that to-do list.
Move Distracting Apps Off Your Home Screen
If you’re addicted to your phone, you probably have apps for days and days on it. And you probably have the ones on which you spend the most time right on your home screen. Take those apps, the ones you just can’t see yourself breaking away from, and put them on a second or further page. If they’re not right in front of you (and if you’ve already turned off the notifications for them), you’ll be less tempted to open them.
If you monitor your phone usage, you see which apps are taking up the majority of your time. Or maybe you know them all by heart. If you’re feeling really bold, delete those apps altogether. If that step seems too extreme, consider signing out of apps so you have to log in the time you open it. That way, you won’t be mindlessly scrolling through social media, but you make the trip to that app a purposeful event.
Cara Batema is a freelance writer and musician based in Los Angeles. She likes to write about the arts and psychology.