077 How to stop checking your phone all the time

Image Credit: Tyler Lastovich

You probably know this but I’ll say it anyway: On average people spend 2 hours of their day on social media apps alone. And we check our phones like 58 times a day. But averages can be deceiving – some might be using social media for 4-6 hours a day which is 1/6th to 1/4th of a whole 24 hour day or some might not be using those attention span consuming apps at all. But still, the normal majority lies somewhere in the middle. Two hours a day, which is 1/8th of your awake time (assuming you sleep for 8 hours a day). And we seriously have the audacity to complain that we never seem to have enough time, sweet.

These numbers probably may have increased for you, like with many others in the past year or so during these work from home state of affairs. The fact is that we want to NOT spend so much time on these unproductive apps, that’s proves why you’ve been reading this article so far. But we can’t seem not to check our phones every 15 minutes and pull refresh. It’s become habitual.

These are some of the practices that I keep in mind and execute on while using my phone so as to not let my phone use me:

Airplane Mode, always Airplane Mode:

Did you know the cool feature to put our phones on Airplane Mode can be used even when we’re not in the air! I like to keep my phone on Airplane mode, throughout bulks of time during the day. It stops all the buzzes and whenever you want to re-use your phone you need to switch off Airplane Mode first; that gives you a split time to think what the purpose is of you wanting to use your phone. That brings me to my next practice of…

Mindful pick-ups:

I like to term this “mindful pick-ups” because, well they are just mindful pick-ups. So this is basically you always having a reason to pick-up your phone. A definite purpose set to use your phone, even if it’s just for 30 seconds or something. Because I’ve observed that many a times I just open my phone, without any purpose and then look through it and the apps and tap on something that will make me tap on something else and the cycle continues till I’ve unintentionally spent 20 more minutes of screen time. Not to forget that all this started without me even having a purpose to use my phone. So, before I pick up my phone, often, if not always I at least try to frame my reason, my purpose to pick up my phone and then I only do that which the pick-up was intended for and then close my phone. This goes well in tandem with Airplane Mode since it gives me a barrier to have to switch off Airplane Mode first, giving me some time to think about my purpose. And when I realize I don’t have any good reason to use my phone I put my phone back on Airplane Mode and meditate … (just kidding I don’t meditate I do something else that’s also meaningful). It’s also great practice to keep barriers and increase the number of obstacles and steps to your phone, so that you realize you don’t want to be checking your phone, because that’s what you want.

It can wait:

The next practice is a rather mentally consoling one. Whenever our phones buzz us, we check them. This almost always happens that we check our phones when a notification reaches us, the only exception probably being you not being near your phone and not hearing the sound or vibration. Other than that we always at least read the notification from our phones if not reply or react to do something about it. But 99 percent of the time, the thing buzzing you is not important. So you could even want to realize that the notification can wait, because it’s not important and you could get going with what you were doing before the distraction. So, this tip is only that – just acknowledge that the notification is not important and it can wait (unless someone calls you 23 times – then you should really pick up)

Social media on weekends only:

This is something I’ve been doing since quite a while now, idea originally adopted from James Clear’s Atomic Habits. Basically you can team up with a trusted friend/family member and let them know your social media passwords, and they can change that password and not allow you to know it throughout the week (Monday to Friday) and then on the weekend they can reveal the password to you, and then change it again on Monday. This way, you can’t possibly login to your social accounts during the week but you won’t really miss out since you can always log in back on the weekends. This is a great practice and I actually like using social media this way. You can allow someone to take your password and you can take theirs. Both giving yourself a challenge to make it through the week without social media. It mustn’t be “make it” throughout the week. Are we so weak that we really need social media to “survive”. I don’t think so. Anyway, you can try that cool idea, social media on weekends only and see for yourself (how you really don’t “need” social media), you’ll thank me later.

These are some of the practices I keep in mind while using my phone. They work for me. I’m proud to say that I don’t fall into the average category of users using social media for 2 hours a day (since I only use them on weekends) and I manage to get down my entire screen time to about an hour a day. We can all shut down our devices now.

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