Open your lock screen, open Facebook, scroll, close Facebook, open Instagram, scroll, close Instagram, open Facebook, scroll, same content you just looked at. We all do it, and I am especially guilty. The worst part is I know when I open Twitter the second, third, fourth time, that nothing’s changed! And sometimes it’s not even a conscious decision to open Snapchat it’s just a reflex. I find myself reaching for my phone to fill every empty second I have. When I’m in line at the store, my phone is open, when I’m procrastinating, my phone is open, I can’t even escape the screen when I’m in the bathroom. It’s unbelievable the amount I of times I find myself halfway through the Instagram Explore Page, not even remembering anything I’ve seen. It is just another form of over consumption. There has to be a better way to live, than relying on my phone to keep myself “productive/entertained/busy” (all excuses I make to avoid what I really should be doing) during every single moment of downtime.
So how did I use my phone less? I downloaded another app! But this app is different because it tracks how many times you reach for your phone, by pressing the home screen, and how many minutes you spend on your phone, which can be split into time spent on different apps. The app is called Moment, a white app with a green lotus-like flower on it, and it is free! (Side note: I like the interface and the design of the app but that has nothing to do with its effectiveness, I just think it is pretty). This app allows you to be more conscious of the time you spend and where you spend it. It’s also interesting to correlate the time I spent on my phone and the quality of my day. On really awesome days I spent less time on my phone, because I didn’t have the time to check it while I was enjoying the activities of the day. On less than great days I found myself spending roughly three hours a day on my phone. That’s insane!
Another way I reduced my phone time was by removing notifications. I removed notifications strategically. For social media I eliminated all notifications, out of sight out of mind right? For other apps that were more communication based like Snapchat and Facebook Messenger, I only allowed notifications in the notification center on my phone. So this way I could pull down my notifications I see that I had been contacted, but just glancing at my phone didn’t notify that I was trying to be reached. I kept iMessage, Gmail, and my Phone at their full notification setting. I find when you don’t see the screen light up, you don’t feel that twitch to reach for it. I find it really helps disconnect but not fully.
I also move my apps around, and hide my distracting apps in various folders. This way, I never get too comfortable with the location of my app, so I can’t click on it mindlessly, and getting to them is not as accessible. The apps are still only a swipe away, but again, out of sight out of mind.
Finally, the biggest way I broke the twitch is deleted apps. To start I deleted all the apps that I don’t use that are automatically included in the iPhone. I deleted Facebook and Twitter, apps that I don’t really use to create content, but just to distract myself through my feed. I only keep on distracting app game on my phone at a time, but only because it’s summer. I’m sure when school starts I will be deleting this game as well. If you delete the app you don’t even have the opportunity to look at it! Really a fool-proof plan.
Bonus: Part of me wants to recommend adding “useful” apps in place of distracting ones. For instance a meditation app, but I can’t help but feel like it would just be another app you use to distract yourself from the more pressing task at hand. Although meditating is beneficial, you should include this time in your schedule, not as a tool to continue to procrastinate.
I am still addicted to my cellphone! Admitting you have a problem is the first step. Let me know of other ways you keep yourself away from the phone screen in the comments below.