Let’s just put it straight: I was addicted to my cell phone. It all started off innocently enough, with me playing my first ever smartphone game. This particular game had a cute little mechanic where you could collect cute pets by ‘checking in’ at certain locations around your city every day.
Pretty soon, this led me to start using my phone more and more every day. I found myself checking for new items on eBay, making sure I had the latest version of Clash of Clans (a game where you collect military units and attack other players), playing card games against random strangers online, downloading Spotify playlists to listen to during my commute, and reading the latest news to find out about the world.
From there it was just one step after another until I found myself using my phone for an average of three hours a day. That might not sound like much to some people, but this was all during ‘downtime’ – many times it wasn’t even during work or something productive.
Want to know what the worst part was? I hated who I had become. There were moments when strangers would sit next to me on public transportation, look at my screen and think I was playing games with them. To be honest, that REALLY bothered me inside.
I developed this nasty habit of checking my phone between every few minutes. I would check my phone while walking down the street, in line at the supermarket, during lunch breaks, even when walking with friends to go grab a drink or two.
Not only was I checking for new notifications constantly, but it also reached a point where I started feeling depressed if I didn’t have internet access on my phone. I didn’t even realize how much time I was spending on the damn thing until one day when my gf jokingly said that she wanted me to sell my phone – she told me it felt like I spent more time with my cell than with her.
And you know what? She was totally right!
It was at this point I started thinking about finding a way to cut down my addiction. The reason being that this wasn’t just affecting me, but it was also affecting the people I cared about.
So how did I go from playing games for 3 hours straight on my cell phone every day to only spending 12 minutes per day over the course of 4 weeks? Let me tell you how…
First, I installed an app called QualityTime on my phone. This app had one goal – to track exactly how much time I spent using every single app on my phone. The free version of the app allowed me to go back and review all of these statistics for up to 30 days in the past. That meant that I could see exactly how much time I had spent playing games, looking at social media apps, browsing websites, watching videos, listening to music… everything!
Seeing that three hours number for the first time really hit home. It was insane just how much time I had been wasting on my phone. Long story short – after using QualityTime for about 10 days, I discovered that the biggest offender on my cell phone was Snapchat (a social media app). Of all of the time I spent using apps on my phone, over half of it was used playing games and checking Snapchat.
Both of these numbers were INSANE to me! After all, I know how much time I spend at work each day… and the idea of spending over 20 hours a week playing games on my cell phone was something I really didn’t want to continue.
Second, after seeing these statistics, I decided it was time to get rid of all of the ‘low-end’ apps I used. Apps like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat were all removed from my phone. I used them all on a daily basis, but the addiction was just too much to keep up with.
Instead I decided to add apps such as Facebook Messenger and Google Maps back in. These were the only 2 apps I felt needed to be on my cell phone – everything else could be swapped with their web version when needed.
After this, I decided it was time to change my phone habits. I started using my phone for only 12 minutes per day (on average) – and I removed all push notifications from every single app on my mobile device.
The 12 minute rule is something I use on a daily basis and it has helped me tremendously! After setting the timer, I make sure to check my phone for anything that needs immediate attention. Every other notification on my cell can wait until the end of the day – because this way it’s not distracting me from REAL work or life tasks.
Lastly, here are a few things I also do to ensure I don’t spend too much time using apps on my cell phone:
– I put my phone on airplane mode every morning when getting ready for work. This way, there’s no chance I can check it before leaving home or during breaks at the office.
– I also use an app called FocusTime that will block all distracting apps for up to 1 hour of time set by me. This means I can fully focus on the task at hand without being tempted to jump onto my cell phone.
– When I’m out with friends or family, I always remove any distracting apps from my home screen so there’s no chance it’ll tempt me while hanging out.
– Lastly, I also use an app called Forest that helps me stay away from my cell phone when I really need to focus on something. This app rewards me for not touching my device with points that can be redeemed for actual real-life stuff (think Amazon gift cards, Starbucks etc.)
Nowadays I use apps like Snapchat and Twitter very sparingly – and they’re only used during times where I’m sitting at my desk or when I have a few spare minutes.
In all honesty, I didn’t think it was possible for me to cut my cell phone use by 87% in less than a month. But thanks to the apps and techniques listed above, that’s exactly what I’ve been able to do! In fact, these days if I have a spare 10 or 15 minutes I’ll opt to pick up a book instead of checking my phone.
I truly believe it’s possible for anyone to reduce their cell phone addiction by 87%. But this won’t happen overnight, and there needs to be some work done on your part – including using helpful apps such as QualityTime.
It all comes down to finding the right balance – and that’s what my new cell phone routine has helped me discover. Now, I’m able to use my phone for work purposes only (and mostly during administrative tasks).
As always, thanks again for reading! If you have any questions about this article or my new cell phone habits, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com