Your cellphone is literally an extension of yourself. You’ve noticed that the apps on your phone are just too fascinating to ignore, and the thought of your phone running out of battery devastates you.
Your loved ones have noticed too and you’re starting to think that maybe, you do have a cellphone problem. So with the festivities approaching, we think it’s time for all of us to cherish precious moments without our noses pressed against our Instagram feeds.
Here’s how to detox yourself from an obsessive relationship with your phone:
1. Track how many times you check your phone with an app – I know, it seems hypocritical to tell you to use an app when I’m telling you to use your phone less. But this is important because if you find out that you’ve checked your phones about 70 times already and it’s only 3 p.m., chances are you won’t be feeling too good about yourself after. To track your phone habits, download apps like Checky and Moment to see how many times you’ve looked at your phone or social media apps. Once you’ve tracked yourself, you can set restrictions to help minimise how much time you’re spending on your phone.
2. Spend less time doing insignificant things – We all use our phones for different reasons but it comes down to a few similarities: it’s something to do while we’re bored, communication, and reassurance. The goal is to waste less time on pointless communication, games, and apps. Start by replacing time-wasting activities with something productive. Instead of Instagram-ing your brunch order at that super Instagrammable cafe, maybe put your phone down and learn how to make the dish.
3. Make a bucket list for the day and finish each task before reaching for your phone – Create a daily bucket list of what you need to do but think you don’t have time for, and do them! Want to get a workout done? Put it on the list. Need to get to the dry cleaners? Put. It. On. The. List. Then make a rule that you won’t check your phone until they’re done. You’ll find that checking your phone takes up a whole chunk of your time and you’d prioritise better after.
4. Notifications are cries of attention – And cries of attention aren’t usually important. Though staying informed is great, staying informed all the time is particularly distracting and detrimental. So, to stay less distracted, turn off the notification for apps or messages that you don’t need right now and just be on your own for a little while.
5. Stop sleeping with your phone – Do you sleep with your phone next to your face? You’re not alone. More than 90% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their phone beside or under their pillow. Sure, you could say that you need the alarm to wake up. But you don’t need the half an hour of scrolling and refreshing your Facebook feed when literally nothing is happening.
6. Put your phone on silent and away from every meal – This is important for all those family gatherings coming up because it is just good manners. You see, when you’re got your phone up at the dinner table, it makes your other diners feel like you’re not really there with them. We are so connected that we’ve conditioned ourselves to socialising while we socialise. So putting your phone away forces you to reconnect with people. And trust me, we all need a healthy dose of human interaction.
7. Carry a book or magazine around – Instead of whipping out your phone when you’re suuuuuuuper bored, bring a magazine or a book with you so you have something else to stare at. Plus, reading is always enriching and hurts your eyes way less.
8. Your phone is not your bathroom buddy – Stop bringing your phone with you to the bathroom! Stop it! It’s bad enough that our cellphones are like breeding grounds for bacteria so I’m pretty sure we really don’t need to waste an extra 5 minutes in the bathroom with our phones in there and then bring that to the dinner table. It’s just a few extra minutes without your phone. Alternatively, read a magazine or that book you’ve stashed in the bathroom.
9. Don’t post or send anything on text or social media within a few hours of bedtime – Doing this will make you feel inclined and eager to check your phone every couple of minutes. To avoid this, schedule out your emails or social media posts to go out first thing in the morning. This lets you go to bed free of worrying if anyone liked that post or if anyone’s written back yet.
10. Texting and driving will kill you – Again, I’d like to reiterate that texting and driving kills! So don’t do it. If you need to put your music on, do so and then set your phone on airplane mode. If you need GPS, you can always your favourite GPS app and turn off ALL notification for texts and apps you don’t need. Alternatively, download apps like Cellcontrol to stop you from checking your phone while driving.
11. You may experience some withdrawals, and that’s okay – Dr. David Greenfield, Ph.D., founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, said that your compulsive cell phone behavior is basically created by a Pavlovian conditioning system – when you hear the ding of a text message or new email you know that there’s a possibility that something great could happen. Not every time, but sometimes. So just in case you find yourself craving to look at your phone, just remember that you’ve conditioned yourself to feel that way.
Here’s to a great mobile detox for all of us.