The Easy Way to Kick Your Phone Addiction
The first time I realised I was addicted to my phone was when it started becoming an obstacle in my relationship with my girlfriend.
The thing was an emotional, mental, and often physical barrier between the two of us.
I often found myself barely listening to what she was saying and occasionally completely ignoring her, whilst mindlessly eyeing up my device.
She, as someone who appears to be immune to phone addiction for whatever reason, naturally, began to get fed up with seeing her boyfriend being held hostage by a handful of social media companies manifesting themselves on a tiny moving screen.
Like many, watching the Netflix documentary, ‘the social dilemma’, was a wake-up call for me.
I began to use my phone more consciously, aware of the different ways all of these apps and companies were fighting for my attention. It became quite amusing to see at certain points. Such as when I removed Facebook from my home screen and placed it with the apps I only use once every month or so, and began to be bombarded with friend suggestions and updates from people I hadn’t spoken to since forever.
Despite being more conscious of what I was doing on my phone, and downloading an app to track the time I spent on it, I still ended up going down the rabbit holes YouTube and Instagram had engineered for me.
I needed a more extreme approach to this problem.
Phone addiction is one of the most widespread addictions in the modern world, and it’s that way for a very good reason. People don’t realise they are addicted to their phones, in fact, phone addiction, although often obvious to loved ones, is most likely one of the hardest to recognise and admit to if you are the one addicted.
One of the reasons for this is that we don’t think it’s such a big deal, the negative consequences of phone addiction reveal themselves very slowly, and we very often don’t notice them for what they are.
Another reason it’s so hard to kick is because, well, everyone’s doing it.
Most people are addicted to their phones.
Most of us have that built-in reflex to reach for our pockets when we are bored, or when we hear a notification sound, even though we know our phone is on silent.
Most of us don’t really know how to fill those empty minutes if not with a quick scroll.
What most of us don’t realise though, is that it’s making us depressed, anxious, and socially inept.
So how did I break the habit?
Well, although I can’t say I’m fully rebooted yet, I can feel a noticeable difference, I don’t think I’m addicted to my phone anymore.
The simplest way to kick this addiction is to have someone hide your phone, somewhere you won’t know where it is.
You might be able to find it, but this method requires a hell of a lot less willpower than hiding it yourself.
Simply not knowing where your phone is, means that the reflex you have to grab your phone is broken, because you are adding an extra step, finding the phone.
This means that you’re only going to look for it if you actually need to use it for something, not just because you’re a little bored.
I found myself, in the first few days of having my girlfriend hide my phone, feeling the urge to go and grab it and scroll, but then having my conscious mind take control of the situation before I got up and started looking for my phone. Each time I asked myself ‘why do you want to use your phone right now?’ and if I couldn't come up with a better answer than ‘to check it’ I would sit back down and do something useful.
After around a week of using this method during the day at home, I can feel the habit slowly breaking, I have reduced my daily phone usage from around 5 hours per day to 1 hour per day, and I still think I can get that even lower.
I also feel more energetic, as my attention and energy aren’t being sucked into my device, my brain isn’t being overloaded with dopamine at all hours of the day.
This method is only really effective if you have someone with you, and if you stay in the same place for a long period of time, such as at home or at an office. It will be less effective if you’re moving around a lot, if you’re in university, constantly moving between classes, for example.
However, there are plenty of other, often easier techniques you can use to break the addiction.
You can turn off notifications, you can just turn off your phone when you don’t need it, as this also adds an extra step for your junkie brain to get past. You can also simply ask yourself, do I really need to take my phone with me here? Or is it just going to act as a distraction?
Phone addiction is one of the hardest to notice, but thankfully, we have a lot of ways to fight it, and it’s not too difficult to overcome when you really want to do so.
If you have an extended period working from home, for example, or a week off maybe, try this method, along with any others that you like.
Reclaim your attention.