My Four Steps to Curb Cell Phone Addiction

Confession: cell phones terrify me.

The thoughts of how our habits as a civilization are shifting and might impact all of us, but particularly our children, overwhelm me enough that I usually don’t go into specifics in my brain. I register terror and move on with my day.

I have never been close to the first person to jump on a technology band wagon, but personally, I overuse my cell phone plenty during specific situations or during certain phases.

My typical pattern goes something like this: Find the phone to see what time it is. Notice I have a text or an email. Read it. Think, “Well I should probably check the weather for tomorrow, or make sure there’s nothing new and not-amazing on Facebook, or look at my to-do list for the hundredth time.” Suddenly, where I may have been inclined to spend ten minutes on my phone each day (checking my email once and texts maybe four or five times), I’m spending… a lot of minutes. I was going to count, but I don’t need the judgement from you people.

Recently, I have decided to play around with this issue and see how or if I might alter my habits. These are the simple changes I made, which have lead to some interesting realizations for me. I invite you to try them also:

1. Bust out one of your old watches and get that baby a battery!

Actually needing to find my phone every time I simply wanted to know the time was silly and segues me into the majority of my time-wasting.

2. Get an alarm clock!

I have always kept my phone on my nightstand overnight, since I use it as my alarm. But guess what that leads to? “Checking it one more time” before I go to sleep (which often takes me away from my book or my journal or my SLEEP) or “checking it” as soon as I shut my alarm off in the morning. Get an alarm clock and charge the phone in another room for the night.

3. Set one hour during the day when it is off-limits.

Pick a time that is easy for you (maybe while you’re getting ready for the day is too hectic to bother using your phone), or that would feel meaningful (perhaps you and your kids would benefit without the potential distraction during the bedtime scramble and snuggle). Personally, I like the dinner hour and, again, just put it far away in another room.

4. Uninstall your biggest time gobbling app for a week.

Maybe you won’t miss it and realize you only used it because it was THERE. Maybe you will learn that you really, really like your time gobbling app, that it takes up a fair bit of your time, but it’s fun or relaxing, and that works for you.

The idea is just to play around. Even if you find yourself “breaking” the rules you come up with, you are going to discover something about yourself by putting attention on this issue. You will determine if it is indeed something you want to change. 

I have learned that I like having it far, far away for chunks of the day and have started purposefully doing that more. I have rediscovered that watches are super useful little gadgets and that some of the alarm clocks available these days are far too advanced for my liking.

No doubt, these camera/navigation/encyclopedia/TV/occasional phone-call-making contraptions have unlimited uses and we are lucky to have the convenience they offer (for example, I’m grateful that I don’t have to sit in a restaurant for 35 minutes wondering if my buddy happened to remember we made plans three weeks ago to meet there!), but I would love to be more conscious about how and when I am using this amazing, society-changing invention.

So, let’s take control of how we are spending our precious hours instead of letting our smartphones dictate our next moment.

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