Hey there, compulsive phone checker.
Much like you, I’m fairly experienced in this area. I used to check my phone compulsively, but have overcome the need to check it, and I’ll share with you how I did it.
It would start out innocent enough, scrolling through Facebook while waiting for a coffee. Or perusing Instagram during breaks at work. I didn’t have a lot of data available to use on my plan, so I was always pretty careful about when I was using it.
But what started as an innocent habit slowly became an addiction and leaked into other areas of my life. I was on my phone all the time: during breaks at work, at meals with friends, while I was hanging out with my parents, while I was at home with my wife. Heck, there was a point I was even texting while driving.
If I were to guess, I would say that I was spending upwards of three hours on my phone each day.
Before we go any further, it’s important we call this thing out for what it is: I was addicted to distraction.
It’s kind of ironic that I ended up this way. I despise people who are tied to their phones 24/7. I think it speaks a lot to a person’s character that they would rather be connected to their digital social networks than investing in a face to face conversation.
I despise this habit probably because I saw a little bit of that same compulsion in me.
It’s great that you’re self-aware enough to realize this is a problem. And mad props to you for wanting to change it. Let’s get into the details of how I beat the need for constant distraction and entertainment from my phone. Let’s call this plan “Operation Data Saver”.
Here’s how to do it.
First, you’re going to need to put some barriers in place.
You cannot rely on willpower. Otherwise, you’ll revert right back to old habits in a couple days. Trust me on this. You’re going to need to purchase an app called Freedom. Check it out here. Freedom is easily the best money I’ve spent on a whim.
Yes – in a weird way, we’re using more technology to force ourselves to stop using technology. Weird. But trust me. It works.
I set up Freedom so I can check distracting apps/websites from 12-1 pm, and then again from 7-8 pm. Outside of those two hours each day, these websites are blocked. There is really no logic to this timeframe other than I try to stay as focused as possible in the morning hours and blocking all distracting sites has allowed me to do just that.
For the first week or so, having my favorite sites blocked brought a whole new level of awareness. It was tough, but really it’s not that bad. Taking a cold shower every day is way harder than not checking a website.
It’s now to the point that a day or two will go by where I won’t actually check in on any of those websites I used to check compulsively.
Set the block times that make sense for you and get after it.
If you wanna take this up a notch, turn off all the notifications on your phone.
Next, you’re going to need to make a personal commitment to leave your phone behind.
There’s an old military adage, “no man left behind”. Well, this ain’t the military, but it is war. You’re going to need to start leaving your phone behind.
Once you get comfortable with your block schedule, the need to to check your phone will begin to dwindle. It’s at this point you need to chop its proverbial head off.
I’m serious. Leave your phone in the car everytime you go out for meals or are spending time with family or friends. Leave it at home when you go on a walk. Leave it in your car when you go to work.
By not having the temptation near you, you won’t not feel the need to check it. And, as a nice bonus, you’ll actually have the opportunity to have deep, meaningful conversations for once. You’ll be able to reach a new level of focus on that the work that matters.
People always tell me they’re worried about an emergency happening while they are away from their phone. To a certain degree, I get it. But nonetheless, I am going to call bullshit. You need your phone with you because you’re addicted. And we need to stop that shit today.
If an emergency were to actually happen, what are you going to do about it? Are you a doctor? No, you’re not. If it’s something that impacts your life in a big enough way, someone you’re with will likely find out also.
Outside of those two things, feel free to use your phone as much as you feel the need.
I think that within a couple days, you’ll begin to notice how great it feels to be disconnected. You’re going to feel pulled to leaving your phone behind. And maybe one day, you’ll even “forget” to bring it with you.
The result of all this? Less anxiety and distraction. More focus and happiness.
You’ll be investing brain power in the areas of life that deserve it, and not paying a lick of attention to the stuff that doesn’t matter.