This week we’re exploring how to stop picking up your phone so often. It’s a modern-day problem, but many of us can’t leave the room—let alone the house—without our phones in our pockets. We even have new gadgets to wear on our wrists to help us keep our phones in our pockets more—but without missing out on anything.
Having a computer in your pocket is amazing. There’s no denying that we’re incredibly lucky to be able to afford these powerful machines and to take advantage of how fast technology is advancing.
But I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to spend a little less time with my phone and a little more time with people, nature, food, and anything else not involving screens.
Keep your phone out of reach
If your phone is always nearby, it’s easy to pick it up more often than you’d like to. Making it harder to give in to that temptation will help you break the habit of picking up your phone anytime you can.
If your phone is always nearby, it’s easy to pick it up more often than you’d like to.
Adam Alter, professor of marketing at NYU and author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked , says to think about designing your environment to help you avoid your phone:
So if there’s something that you keep doing obsessively, make sure that it’s not in your environment and you’re less likely to do it. That’s a much more effective way of preventing yourself from using it than say keeping it nearby but trying to just suppress the desire to use it.
Turn off notifications
We’ve all heard this one before, but turning off your notifications is a classic way to ease your reliance on that little box in your pocket that’s always vying for your attention.
Alter says turning off notifications is a way to take back control :
Turn off the “ding” sound when you get a text message so that instead of your phone saying, “Hey, check me now,” you decide when it’s time to check. You’re removing the control from the phone and you’re bringing it back to yourself. You can also take the apps that are most addictive for you, and bury them in a folder on the fourth page.
Replace your phone with something else
It sounds easy to keep your phone further away so it’s hard to get to, but in practice that’s quite difficult. The trick, according to Alter , is to replace your phone with something else:
What you want to do is you want to find a behavior that is a stand-in for the behavior that you don’t want to be doing. You replace the bad thing that you shouldn’t be doing with something good that you should be doing.
So you start leaving your phone in your home office or in your entrance hall. When you’re in bed or chilling on the couch, what do you do? Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
- Leave a book on your bedside table
- Leave another book or a stack of magazines next to your couch
- Keep a bag of knitting or crochet, a coloring book, or a sketchbook and pencil next to the couch
- Leave a deck of cards or a puzzle toy on the table by your couch
- Get out that musical instrument you keep meaning to play and store it next to your couch
- Keep a journal and pen by your bed
- Keep a set of small weights by the couch
- Keep a yo-yo or a set of juggling balls by the couch and learn a few party tricks
- Put reading apps on the main screen of your phone or tablet and move all other apps into hard-to-reach places
- Keep a letter-writing pad and a pen by your bed and catch up on some old-fashioned correspondence
What techniques have you tried to cut down how much time you spend looking at your phone? Let us know what worked and what didn’t in the comments.