The other day a conversation The Delighted Duchess started a conversation about phone addiction that got me thinking. I was one of the first people to buy an iPhone when they first came out back in 2007, and have faithfully upgraded to each new and shiny model since then. I’ve always been more of a written communicator, so texting and messaging is my jam. It didn’t take long for my phone to go from a handy tool to a full-on addiction. Over the past couple of years I have realized what an issue my phone was becoming and today I am going to share a few steps that I have taken to successfully break a phone addiction.
How To Break A Phone Addiction
A smartphone can be an amazing productivity and communication tool as long as there are clear boundaries. When does it creep from tool to addiction? That is something you have to decide for yourself. For me it became a problem when my phone was interrupting real-life communication, and I felt panicky if I didn’t have it with me at all times. When my husband and I first started dating he even commented that he was a little turned off by how much I was on my phone on our first date. This wasn’t behavior I wanted to model or pass down to my kids, so I knew it was time to start taking steps to reverse it. Here are a few things that have worked for me.
Remove Apps From Your Phone
Facebook is probably my number 1 time-suck, and typically it leaves me feeling upset, jealous, or wanting to beat down total strangers. Don’t roll your eyes, we’ve all fallen into a political discussion with a complete neanderthal before. Somehow I was mindlessly opening the app and scrolling before I even realized what I was doing. I am someone who can’t stand to have notifications, so every time those little red numbers popped up, I was opening the app.
I finally got drastic and completely removed the app from my phone. Could I still check it on the browser? Sure, but I was a lot less likely to when there weren’t notifications taunting me. After a few weeks of this I started to notice how little value Facebook was adding to my life. Even though I had notifications, very few had anything to really do with me. I eventually added the app back to my phone, but I remove it often when I notice myself mindlessly opening it.
Get an Apple Watch
I had no desire to own an Apple Watch but my husband got me one last Mother’s Day. After a few weeks of using it something magical happened – I started leaving my phone on the charger. Sometimes I even left it on another floor of the house. Instead of it constantly being attached to my hand, the watch gave me the freedom to walk away from it. When someone called or texted me directly I knew immediately, but it removed the urgency of social media. I wasn’t able to mindlessly scroll and there were no notifications taunting me.
It seems counterintuitive that adding another gadget would reduce a reliance on technology, but that has definitely been the case for me. I no longer jam my phone in my pocket to count steps or keep track of my kids. Plus the prompts on my watch have me moving more than ever. An Apple Watch is worth looking into if you want to stay connected without the pressure of notifications.
Set Time Limits
I had no idea just how much time I was wasting on social media until I started using Rescue Time, which simply logs and reports how much time you spend on individual apps or websites. I’m a competitive person, so I started setting goals of how much time I wanted to spend productively – like working on my blog, and how little I wanted to waste – like on social media. It has been interesting to see how my time has shifted since I started using this. At first I was logging something like 20 hours a week on social media!
Decide What Else You’d Rather Be Doing
Do you feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day? Most of us probably do at some point or another, but it’s difficult to STOP spending time on something you don’t want to, like a smart phone, unless you clearly envision what else you would rather be doing. One of my goals this year was to spend a lot more time reading. Since I put down the phone and picked up a book I have plowed through more than 200 of them! Another goal of mine was to stick to a cleaning routine and keep my house up. I have pretty faithfully stuck to a routine all year and I find I have a lot more time for small projects.
Ultimately it’s going to take some self-discipline to conquer a cell phone addiction, but these intentional steps really helped me on my journey. Life is what happens while our noses are buried in our phones, so let’s relegate them back to a useful tool and break the addiction.