A Game Plan: How I broke my phone addiction
There's no denying that many of us are distracted from the real world by our smartphones, consuming much of our valuable time and making it more and more difficult to be present. There's even a current Kickstarter campaign for a new smartphone that help users stay connected with less distraction.
After downloading a phone usage tracking application last year, (based on my own advice last April, in a previous article) and seeing it clock up to a daily 4 hours, even 6 hours in a few dire instances, I decided to make 2017 the year I disconnected.
I made my New Year's Resolution to use my phone less. The goal was to reduce my usage to less than one hour per day (because let's face it, who couldn't do with an extra 3 hours a day in their lives?). I was also pretty sick of being an utter hypocrite when it came to phone usage in front of friends and family - nobody likes going out for coffee with a friend, only to find they're friend has better plans on Tinder or Snapchat.
Generally I am pretty good at sticking to habits, being fairly disciplined when it comes to my daily 8-hours of sleep and 8 glasses of water, but I'll admit in my previous twenty-sixteen attempts I struggled to curb my phone usage.
So I decided to follow the goals method suggested in Kicking Goals, to keep myself accountable. I sat myself down on January 1 and, together with my partner, developed a Game Plan to put an end to my phone addiction.
The Game Plan
As advised, we decided to tackle the task together, in order to keep each other on track and motivated. But I knew just saying I was going to reduce my phone usage, even with the help of a friend, wasn't going to be enough to keep me accountable. Being a poor student, I realised the only way to get me to commit, would be to pull at my purse strings.
The game is simple, whoever uses their phone the most each week has to pay for dinner one of the days. This meant we had to install a set catch-up and eating out night each week, which was a pretty good added bonus. We used the the application RealizD to track our iPhone usage (You can find similar applications for Android) and calculate the winner and of course, the ultimate loser.
"Whoever uses their phone the most each week has to pay for dinner one of the days."
The competition has been fierce, with each of us trying to get away with leaving our phones at home on some occasions as well deleting apps that we identified all the time-wasting apps, that could be accessed from the computer anyway, like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. This means I am not entirely disconnected from the world but now deliberately and, dare I say, mindfully check my social media accounts, rather than aimlessly unlocking my phone throughout the day, only to find myself far into the depths of cat pics on Instagram.
After a whole 3 months of the game experiment, I can safely say that I have regained at least 3 hours of my life back each day, keeping my usage down below an hour most days. Even the days when I do slip past the 1 or 2 hour mark, I can usually attribute the extra time to a long car drive with Google Maps or a mass of productive work correspondence, and not just watching another useless nail art tutorial.
Further tips for reducing your uneccessary phone usage
- Put your phone in the least accessible pocket in your bag
- Start wearing a watch
- Invest in an actual alarm clock
- Charge your phone in any other room than your bedroom
- Identify your "problem app," the one that causes you to unlock your phone in the first place - (It might not necessarily be your Facebook. For example, my problem app turned out be Todo List, now simply replaced with a pen and paper)
You can read our previous article on How to Break up with Your Phone here.