How many times do you check your phone each day? How much time do you spend on your phone within a 24-hour period? An overwhelming amount of research indicates we are becoming addicted to our phones. In fact, studies have shown that excessive cell phone usage is leading to many physical and mental health problems, including:
- Sleep deprivation
- Poor eyesight
- Decreased productivity
- Irritability or bad mood
- An increased risk for suicide
Here are some ways you can break your phone addiction and find freedom from your device:
Turn Off Notifications & Set Your Phone to Vibrate
Notifications can be one of the biggest culprits of phone overuse because they invade our brain space and won’t leave us alone until we deal with them. If the constant “pinging” tempts you to check your phone too often, perhaps it’s time to change your settings and set your phone to vibrate.
Of course, you may need to keep notifications on for apps you use for communication, such as texting and email. But at the very least, turn off notifications for leisure apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. so that you’re only checking these when you actually have downtime to do so.
Download a Productivity/Mindfulness App
While it may seem counterproductive to use the device itself to limit you from using it, it can actually help. Curb your smartphone addiction, boost your productivity, or simply focus on being more present by downloading an app such as AppDetox, Flipd, Quality Time, or Forest.
Some of these apps track phone use and give you a visual to make you more aware of how much time you’re spending on your phone. Others allow you to block specific distracting apps for set amounts of time. Many of these apps provide some level of flexibility when it comes to phone use, so try different ones and find the app that works best for you.
Rely on Your Phone Less
Those who have a hard time keeping their phone use in check may need to rely on other tools in order to limit how often they reach for their phone. For example, planners can be helpful for calendar reminders, menu planning, budgeting, and shopping lists. Notebooks can be good for note-keeping and passwords, and there are plenty of non-phone related ways to keep in touch, including forcing yourself to use a desktop computer or laptop for emails and socializing. You could even go the extra mile and limit your cellular data plan, to encourage you to use your phone for calling, texting, and navigational purposes only.
Don’t Charge Your Phone Where You Sleep
One of the best ways to curb your phone addiction is to put your phone to bed at night, away from you. This will prevent you from grabbing your phone to browse social media or check your emails if you happen to wake in the middle of the night. In addition, you will not be roused by unexpected phone calls, messages, or app notifications.
Instead, put your phone on charge at night in a different room. If you use your phone for an alarm, as many people do these days, just put it in a nearby room. This way, you’ll be able to hear the alarm when it is time to wake up, but you will not be tempted to access your phone before then.