Let’s be straight up about it. The majority of us are really, really, really attached to our phones at this point. If not totally addicted. Statista reported that the average US smartphone owner checks their phone over 47 times A DAY.
We’re making sure that they’re on the table at dinner, we take them with us to workout, to the bathroom and everything in between. We’ve got our heads inside them talking to people via messaging or social media when there are literally humans physically sitting in front of us that we should be talking to instead.
The use of mobile devices in the world work to simultaneously connect and separate people from one another on a daily basis. You can FaceTime your parents from across the world but at the same time can’t get through an hours meeting without checking your phone for texts, calls, or notifications.
While you may think your relationship with your phone should be one that reflects your own personal needs, feeling the urge to check a digital device every 10 minutes isn’t exactly an ideal way of life.
So, if you’re like us and are starting to get sick of how often you check your phone, it might be time to consider how to beat the addiction and become more aware of what’s going on around you.
Here are 6 easy tips to help you break your phone-checking habits and spend less time staring at screens.
We all find ourselves in situations where we’re bored or lose concentration and start tapping away at our phones. More often than not, there’s certain apps we’ll go to that are also usually the ones that distract us most. Games, social media apps or shopping apps with their colorful icon on the home screen easily draw our attention and then we find ourselves down the rabbit hole for hours doing, well not much at all.
So how can we avoid this temptation? Pretty easily actually – by deleting them. At least move them off the home screen if total deletion sounds too radical. Then the theory of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ will come into play. By moving all of your most addictive apps to the second page of your screen where it’s harder to open them spontaneously, you’ll be less inclined to get lost inside them.
You could also try grouping such apps in a folder such as ‘Games’ or ‘Social Media’ so they’re always that one extra step harder to find and access. Making these apps less accessible will reduce the time you spend using them and in turn, help you use your phone less promoting better digital habits. The BlockSite app can also help with controlling the apps that distract you. With BlockSite you can block the apps that steal your focus and waste most of your time for set time frames when you need to concentrate on other things. Check it out here.
Monitor Usage Patterns
Apple introduced the Screen Time feature with their iOS 12 release. This feature enables you to see how much time you spend on your phone, what apps you use most and how often you’re using your device overall. The same is available if you use an Android device as phone companies are understanding the importance for people to be aware of what they spend their time doing and how to improve their usage patterns.
Once you have located how to monitor your screen time, you’ll be aware of the apps that are taking up too much of your time. You can then set daily limits for them and when you reach your limit, you’ll be notified.
While the limit may be easily ignored with a swipe away, it creates an additional barrier between you and the apps you use. You’ll also be aware of the time you spend with your phone and might be surprised to find out, it’s a lot more than you think. Start monitoring your usage and set your own limits to start reducing the time you spend on your phone.
For example, if your screen time app lets you know that you spent a total of 5 hours this week on your device, for the following week try and reduce it by and hour and so on until you’re barely using it at all. By implementing this you’ll move one step closer to being free of your phone addiction.
Notifications have become something we’re all used to receiving and opening. All the new apps you download to your device will ask you if they can send you notifications and the old ones you already have installed, send them all the time.
You go from happily getting your work done to receiving a notification and the next thing you know you’re impulse buying new furniture with a discount code you’ve just received, proving just how much phone notifications really do have a way of knocking us off track.
However, improving your productivity isn’t the only benefit of blocking notifications. Blocking notifications can have long term health benefits according to research carried out by Carnegie Mellon University and Telefonica.
The research required 30 people to turn off their phone notifications for 24 hours and report back on how they found the experience.
The immediate findings of the study showed that participants were more productive and less distracted after their first notification-free 24 hours. The experiment however, had far more positive long-term benefits, as it encouraged participants to change their notification settings for good, even up to 2 years later. This reduced their long-term urge of getting distracted and being stressed out.
Therefore, If your app has flexible notification options, it’s a good idea to play around with them and only allow what is really important to you and not notifications that could take your focus and distract you.
Remove your Device
It becomes much easier to beat an addiction when it’s not easily accessible. Therefore if you physically remove your phone from sight and reach, it becomes much harder to be distracted by it and to reach for it.
While we understand that we all need our phones in case of urgent calls, if you want to lessen your need to constantly pick it up, put it out of reach when you can. For example, when you get home from work, leave your phone in your bag and move away from it. You’ll feel less of a need to constantly check it and won’t walk backwards and forwards across your house to get it all the time.
The same trick can help you at work, school, and family dinners. When there’s no phone on the table in front of you, it’s much easier to focus on the things you need to do, be it finishing some work or chatting with your loved ones. Start by trying to do this at specific times, like when you get home from work, before bed and in the morning. Even if it’s just for an hour or two at a time, it’s a great start and you’ll soon find you’re reaching for it less.
Set Time Limits
Constantly checking your phone throughout the day reduces your productivity, while staring at the screen before bedtime can affect the quality of sleep. Statista reported that 80% of Americans check their phone within an hour of waking up and going to sleep. 35% do it within the first 5 minutes of waking up…crazy right?
We all need a good night’s sleep to function properly at work or at all so try setting time limits when to stop using your phone. For example, if you go to bed at 23:00, stop using your phone at 21:00. This will enable you to literally ‘switch off’ and become more in control of your phone usage.
Use Screen Time (iOS) or Digital Wellbeing (Android) to schedule certain times away from your phone. For example, between 9 PM and 7 AM, your phone can stop app notifications for you and only allow phone calls. You can also automatically turn on the Do Not Disturb mode every night to make sure nothing interrupts your sleep.
If you want to try and increase your productivity throughout the day too and stop looking at your device, use BlockSite to block certain apps and websites while you need to focus at work, that way you’ll be less inclined to constantly check them, because you won’t be able to open them easily.
Stop the Urge
Picture this; you’re in the middle of a really busy day at work filled with meetings, emails and pressing deadlines. Suddenly you have a short, unexpected gap in your day. Without even thinking about it, you pull out your phone and dive into email, Facebook, news or some other distraction. Sound familiar? We thought so.
This urge is even greater when we’re at home. It’s what causes us to respond to our child’s request to play by saying, “Just a minute,” as we stare at our phone. It’s what makes us interrupt a conversation with a friend or a meal with occasional glances down at our phones.
What we now know from the science and practice of mindfulness is that the best response to this urge is to simply become aware.
When you feel like you must check your phone become aware of the experience, and of the craving. Notice what it feels like and the thoughts that arise when it happens.
This will enable you to make an actual choice as to whether or not you will indulge the urge. Even if you do end up on Facebook or Instagram, this micro-moment of awareness changes everything. It breaks you out of autopilot and gives you back the ability to choose how best to spend your time.
Start becoming more mindful to beat the addiction today.
Overall, there are some easy steps you can start taking today to lessen the attachment to your phone and prevent the addiction from growing. By implementing the steps above, you’ll become more aware of how to improve your productivity and mindfulness as well as how to stay in control of your time – spending it on more important things than staring at your screen.