“Ding” sounds your smartphone. You are deep into a task and the sound of a notification makes you raise your ears like a dog who heard a bone dropped in its plate. With no other choice but to give in, you stop your work to check what the notification was.
Today, the smartphone has taken over people’s lives. In restaurants, public transport or when friends catch up at home, a bunch of people are glued to their phone screen.
Getting over the smartphone seems like an uphill battle for many. Here are some tips to help you fight the battle against your smartphone.
- How to stop phone addiction using 9 tips
- 1. Stop accessing your phone in specific time slots
- 2. Put your phone on DND
- 3. Put your groups on mute
- 4. Turn off read receipts
- 5. Put your apps on mute
- 6. Turn off normal text notifications
- 7. Keep your phone away while sleeping
- 8. Do not check your phone as soon as you wake up
- 9. Delete all the apps you don’t use
- What are the symptoms of smartphone addiction?
How to stop phone addiction using 9 tips
If you want to learn how to stop phone addiction, do not try to go all guns blazing all at one. Your mind will have a hard time staying away from the phone completely. Start implementing these tips one at time or in smaller portions.
1. Stop accessing your phone in specific time slots
If you stick to your smartphone like the bees stick to honey, you might find it impossible to stay away from notifications or putting your phone on mute. If a complete DND is too drastic a step for you, start keeping your phone away for a few hours.
Start with 1 hour where you put your phone aside. Either put it in a drawer or your bag or anyplace away from your line of sight. Not only should you not be able to see your phone, but you also should not be able to hear a buzz or the light from the screen when a notification sounds. Your phone should not call for your attention until you pick it up.
The farther away you keep the phone from your access, the easier you will find to resist the urge.
2. Put your phone on DND
When you hear your phone beep at a distance, you feel the urge to check your phone. Maybe you decide not to check your phone right now. Yet, you still hold the thought in your head that you have a pending notification to check.
Resisting the urge to check a notification is no easy feat. Your best defense to avoid using the phone too much is to cut as many notifications as possible. Using DND yields great results.
My phone is set to be on DND for the whole day except for three hours, 8 PM – 11 PM. You can learn how to use DND by the time of the day on both Android and iPhone the same way.
If you do not use DND, the phone controls your behavior by asking you to pick it up every time it beeps. By using DND, your phone never beeps and you can check your phone every few hours as per your choice. Using DND has produced the best results for many people to cure phone addiction.
Putting your phone on DND seems like a breakup at first. You miss your phone but you get over it with time.
3. Put your groups on mute
For those who cannot make up their minds to put the phone on DND, start with turning off all group notifications. Nothing useful has ever happened on a group chat. All that happens is unknown friends sending a forward about a funny stand up comedy from Youtube.
There is rarely an occasion where any question asked on a group chat is a question of life or death. If at all such a situation arises, people will call you.
If you really have one or two groups that need your attention, leave the notifications only for those on. Do not make that a reason to leave a group on loud.
4. Turn off read receipts
When the other person can see the status of your replies, you face some unnecessary pressure. You feel compelled to reply because the other person knows you read the message. On the other end, if you notice the other person has read your message but does not reply, you might get annoyed for no reason.
Due to read receipts, stalking other people to find them online or checking the read status turns into an obsession too. If someone read your message and chose not to reply, you can do nothing about it. Knowing that the other person did not reply can only make the situation worse. Maybe the other person was busy while you assume that your message was ignored.
Turning off read receipts might seem a useless step, but yields great results to cure phone addiction.
Ignore is bliss when it comes to read receipts of text messages. Do not check read receipts like an ex who cannot get over the breakup.
5. Put your apps on mute
Most of the apps on your phone which send you a notification do not need your immediate attention.
Do you need to know right now that someone commented on your recent Instagram photo? When tinder tells you about a new match, do you have to check out your match then and there to say hi? In fact, you will have a better chance with your match if you remain mum for a while.
Only leave notifications on those apps which need your attention immediately. For example, if you run a business, being notified about a message might need your immediate action.
Your app notifications are the primary distractions to study, work or concentrate in any form.
6. Turn off normal text notifications
You receive many promotional text messages each day. A restaurant offers a discount for the weekend, your bank has a pre-approved loan for you or the local real estate agent has never seen before apartments for sale.
Such notifications distract you for no reason. Turning all text notifications is the best way out, but not always feasible. For example, I want to know when Amazon has a delivery scheduled for today. So, I cannot turn text notifications off as a whole.
To work around that, you have to use a little more time-consuming process. You must turn off notifications for individual text messages.
Every time you receive a marketing text message, block the sender. When you start you will have a lot of senders to block. But, after a month, you will receive far fewer text messages from marketers.
7. Keep your phone away while sleeping
If you keep your phone under your pillow, you make yourself vulnerable to waking up and checking a notification. Moreover, your brain also stays alert for a beep from your phone.
Keep your phone away from your bed. If you find that hard to do, at least keep it at a distance from where you sleep, such that you have to stretch to get it. When you wake up between your sleep, laziness takes over. The extra stretch prevents you from picking up the phone.
8. Do not check your phone as soon as you wake up
You feel the hurry to rub your eyes, pick up your phone and type in your unlock code, hoping for new notifications. If you do not find enough notifications, you proceed to check Instagram, Whatsapp or Snapchat to find out what the world is up to.
Checking your phone as soon as you wake up shows a weakness for phones. You might argue saying what if you had an important notification? I would counter-argue asking, what if you woke up 30 minutes late? I doubt if anything would change.
When you do not check your phone for 30 minutes after waking up, you take a step closer to how to cure your smartphone addiction.
9. Delete all the apps you don’t use
You might have installed apps for one-time use or to check a feature. So, a few of the apps on your phone are no longer useful to you. Such apps might send you notifications too.
Go through all the apps on your phone and delete the ones you do not need anymore. Not only will they save space on your phone but also provide you some peace of mind too.
What are the symptoms of smartphone addiction?
Tell a phone addict, “You are addicted to your smartphone,” and you will hear a counter-argument denying what you said. Most people who spend umpteen hours on the smartphone do not realize how deep into the smartphone addiction they are.
If you intend to cure phone addiction, check for the symptoms first.
Here are some symptoms of smartphone addiction
1. You text walk
Text walking is when you walk while typing or reading a text message.
Do you bump into poles or walls when you walk typing a text message? If you do and still deny your addiction, it is similar to denying being addicted to smoking after smoking a pack a day.
If you feel the necessity to check your messages even while you walk, you use your smartphone way too much.
2. You miss parts of the conversation
Do you miss some parts of the conversation with the person right in front of you because your eyes and attention were on the phone? Do you remember saying to an annoyed person, “Sorry, I did not catch that”, after replying to a text message?
As human beings, you or I cannot focus our attention on two different conversations. Our brain cannot pay heed to one conversation in person and the other over text at the same time.
Ignoring what the other person has to say because you are tempted to check your phone is a sign of disrespect too.
3. Scrolling news feed
How often do you scroll through the newsfeed on Instagram or Facebook? You might say, “I check it once in a while because I am bored.”
But watch yourself more closely. Do you pick your phone to browse through social media between a task? Many people do but do not realize or admit the constant phone checks.
4. Searching for your phone for no reason
Do you look for your phone when you cannot find it? Yes, everyone does because no one likes to lose their phone. But can you identify a reason why you want your phone right now? If you have a call to make, a recipe to find or an important text to send, looking for your phone seems justified.
Phone addicts want their phone around them all the time whether they plan to use it or not. Science has coined a term, Nomophobia, for the fear of being away from cellular phone contact.
If you are looking for your phone to kill because you feel uncomfortable without it and you do so often, you must watch out.
5. Re-reading texts
Even if you like and comment on almost every picture you find and scroll through both Instagram and Facebook many times an hour, you will at times run out of things to do. Sometimes you find yourself bored doing the same thing.
In such cases, do you go back to re-read some of your old text messages? If you do, it says that you so badly want to use your phone that you do not mind reading the messages you already have read before.
You feel the need to use the phone so much that you find ways to use it.
6. Carrying your phone inside your house
People carry their phones with them even when they are at home. Some do so out of laziness of having to walk to the phone if anyone calls. Laziness, though never advised, is in this case acceptable.
However, most people carry their phones with them not out of laziness. People want to immediately check their phone when they receive a notification or use it when they do not know what else to do.
7. You check your phone when you wake up at night
What do you do if you woke up from your sleep in the middle of the night? Some people turn and sleep the other way. Some others reach underneath the pillow to check if who else watched their Instagram story.
If you check your phone when you wake up at night, you must admit that you have a problem.
If you are looking for tips on how to cure phone addiction, the first step for you is to admit you have a problem. If you live in denial of your smartphone addiction, you will continue your habits without any change. Most people refuse to accept how tightly they cling on to their phones.
Though an addiction, no one compares the usage of smartphones with the craving of drugs, smoking or alcohol. While smartphones may not kill you like the other addictions, it can destroy your productivity, focus, relationships, personal time, sleep and peace of mind.
When you take the first step of admitting your problem, taking the next step to overcome the smartphone addiction becomes easier. But people falter at the first step itself.
The choice to cure your phone addiction is yours.
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.