4 Ways to Spend Less Time With Your Phone

Do you ever use your phone like a Magic 8 ball? Do the ‘wonder-urges’ take over your time? You know, all those little questions like I wonder how much a new hammock costs,  or I wonder what the weather will be like tomorrow,  or I wonder how to cook dried beans in the oven.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall, what’s the most addictive of them all?

You know what? I recently discovered that it turns out I don’t need to find the answers to all of them right away.

I’m not a quitter.  Well, not usually.  But my phone and I have been spending waaaaay too much time together.  While I’ve been averaging just under two hours a day, sometimes it’s been upwards of 3+ hours!  Not in big chunks, mind you, but it might even be worse if it’s sprinkled all throughout the day.

Nevermind that I live in the mountains and don’t even get cell signal here. It was never about the phone calls.  It was about all of the other apps that Make My Life Better. (Or not.)

In an effort to be more in the present moment and less in the FB feed, I’ve been tinkering with ways to cut back slowly.  So far, so good.  But I will say I’ve been reading a lot more.  That’s escape, too, isn’t it?

Turn off notifications

All of them.  Even email.  I had most turned off, but email notifications still drew my attention every time.  Now I have to actually pick up my phone, unlock, navigate to my mail app, open it, and refresh to see if I have mail.

It’s amazing how this little tweak reduced the number of times I glance at my phone, thereby reducing the overall unlocks, which inevitably lead to a quick glance at my Instagram feed, and the over to my Goodreads account.  You get the idea.

Make this change by going to the app’s settings, or going to the notifications setting.

Get an alarm clock

For years my phone’s charging station has been my bedside.  Because my phone is also my alarm clock!  Duh.

But often, setting the alarm leads to checking those social media feeds.  And then sometimes, an hour later, I’m exhausted, haven’t read a page of my book, and still haven’t reached the end of the damn feed!  It happens.  A lot.

But last week I went to the thrift store and bought a cute little alarm clock for $2.50, and relocated the phone charging to my desk downstairs.

It’s a miracle!  I’ve finished two books this week already!

Monitor your use

Ok, this one actually requires acquiring a new app, which seems counterintuitive, but I promise it’s not.

You need an app that will help you monitor your usage. I found and use Quality Time, which tells me not only how much time I spend looking at my phone, but also breaks it down by app.

This is how I know I average just under 2 hours a day on my phone, spend waaaay to much time on social media, and also how I know that my cut-back strategies are working.  Data collection is important, people!

Delete time-suck apps, log out of websites, deactivate accounts

This one is a no-brainer.  Now that you know how you’re spending your time (see point 3, above), decide what to quit (or cut back).

I didn’t even have the Facebook app on my phone, but still managed to use it quite a bit from the web browser.  Logging out meant I had to reenter my credentials, which I conveniently forgot, so in this way I made FB disappear.  This, not surprisingly, led to more IG usage.  But c’mon, a girl needs some distraction. I’m working on it.

How have you managed your own screen time?

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Look, even that cute little flip phone had me riveted.
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