The average smartphone user checks their phone a ridiculous 110 times per day. This thought echoed through my mind as I was watching an employee eating their dinner with the phone in one hand, presumably texting, sipping on a coke, eating a burrito, using a napkin, scratching their head, picking their nose, rifling through their bag for the next food item all while never putting the damn phone down.
This is a sign. I need to go on a mission to break people of their phone habits. Here are some tips to break the “I am addicted to my phone” problems.
1. Never use your phone as your alarm clock
We all know how it goes: You go through the normal routine of hitting snooze 10 times, you finally cancel the alarm, and……………you go straight to Facebook, Instagram, email, etc, etc, etc. Your lazy ass hasn’t even touched your feet to the floor and you are on tech overload. If you are using your phone as an alarm clock you are literally starting the day with your phone in your hand. Stop it. Go pony up the 15 bucks for a crappy alarm clock.
2. Stop checking your emails before work
This in a way goes hand-in-hand with #1 and it’s admittedly a doozy. I am as guilty of this as anyone, as I immediately check my email when I get up for the day. But honestly, after trying this out for a couple of days, I noticed nothing had really changed at all. I got to all of my morning emails, about an hour later. Now, if you are a doctor on call…this doesn’t apply to you. In fact, some countries have made off-hour work emails a criminal offense. No joke, look it up.
3. Remove those excess apps
Having instant ’round the clock access to Facebook is as superfluous as a nipple on my knee. As a wise man on the Internet once said, Facebook is like the fridge – you check it every 15 minutes, even though you know nothing’s there. By eliminating time-wasters and attention suckers, you can get rid of the urge to pull your smartphone from your pocket every two minutes out of pure impulse.
4. Actually, don’t bring your phone into the bedroom at all
5. Turn off (or customize) notifications
You don’t need an obtrusive annoying beep or buzz every time your post gets some love on FB or IG. It only make you more apt to whip out your phone and get nose-deep in a vicious circle of texting, email checking, and god only knows what else. You can disable in-app notifications in your main settings menu (under the App section), or customize them for only the important stuff. As far as calls and texts go, one viable solution I’ve been using is setting custom vibrations for certain people. So, I can tell if it’s someone important (like the wife, or the baseball family) without taking my phone out of my pocket. You can make your own custom vibes by selecting a contact, then the “Vibration” option, underneath “Ringtone.”
6. Airplane mode will set you free
This is another answer for people too scared to leave their phones behind completely. Basically, you’ll be left with just a combination clock/camera. If you really want to focus on a task at hand, or just need to make sure no one bothers you for an extended period, just switch on airplane mode, and let it ride. Try doing this while you’re driving, in social situations, or watching TV, and gradually extend your “Airplane time” to other activities. It’s all about conditioning yourself to a life less cluttered with phone time, and Airplane mode is an excellent stepping stone on your way to mindfulness.
7. Keep it in your pants during meal times
If you can’t bear to leave your phone behind completely, it’s cool—I get it. But you should at least create some specified “no-phone” times or zones. An obvious option is during meals. And also, we all talked: you need to stop Instagramming your depressing #worklunches. Killing two harmful birds with one stone, here.
8. Keep the bathroom tech-free
Dropping a deuce before smartphones, for many, might seem outright barbaric. Besides, I can assume that nixing your phone from your toilet routine can cut down on deuce-time by a solid 75-80%, and is a nice way to find a quiet space, free of technology. Read a book, a magazine or one of those old school paper iPads (Commonly referred to as Newspapers). And anyway, it’s not sanitary….so beware before using somebody else phone to look at their selfies!
9. Turn off your email when you don’t need it
When you knock off work for the weekend, it might not be a bad idea to turn your email off completely. Go to your settings, then to “mail,” and switch off the green toggle button to stop the flow of emails (till you switch it back on again, of course). You won’t get any notifications, and no new emails will show up in your phone’s inbox. This is particularly helpful because it lets you designate mailboxes, so you can keep your personal emails while killing all the stressful, time-sucking work stuff.
10. If you really can’t help yourself, buy a minimalist phone
There are hardware options out there for people who simply can’t help themselves, designed to give users the cell phone bare bones, without all the distracting apps like Facebook and Snapchat.
11. Limit your usage with an app
Ironically, there are smartphone apps designed to help you use your smartphone less. What a bizarre and confusing future we live in, right? These can actually be pretty useful in your quest to cut down, though. Apps like MOMENT run in the background of your phone and track your usage time. Eventually, if you find you are using your phone too much, you can set the app to limit your usage on certain apps, or even shut down your phone all together. F you, Moment—you are stern, but fair.
12. Keep a low charge and set a passcode
Don’t laugh! While it may not be beneficial for your battery, keeping your phone at a low charge will physically prevent you from using it for extended periods at a time. If you know you aren’t packing much juice, you’ll only use your phone for emergencies. Setting a passcode that is required every time your phone is locked (and disabling the fingerprint recognition on newer phone models) can be a minute but effective way to prevent you from subconscious phone checking. It will dissuade you from taking it out every minute or so, and force you into using your phone when you need it, then putting it away for extended periods afterwards.
13. Just leave your phone at home sometimes…WAIT WHAT?!!
Easier said than done, I know. But this is quite possibly the only true way to cut back on your usage altogether. Putting your phone in a drawer, or in another room, can only do so much. And look, I get it. Going cellphone commando is nerve-racking, as there’s many-a-benefit to having your phone at your side—including safety. But, you definitely will find yourself in situations where your phone is just not needed.
A walk in the park, a trip to the coffee shop, even meeting up with your friends at the bar for a quick drink—try leaving your phone at home, I promise it stops being weird after 20 minutes. You just end up getting used to it. Then, when you decide to actually bring your iPhone out again, you’ll be accustomed to not using it so frequently. You’ll be surprised at how good it feels to not have the weight of the world inside your pants, weighing down your spirit, and dragging down your soul. Phone-free is the way to be. Well, at least some of the time.