Around 6 months ago I started an experiment. I was spending way too much time on my phone getting nothing done. Be it mindlessly scrolling through Twitter every five minutes, spending an hour on Reddit, or having a mindless conversation just for the sake of having one. It needed to stop.
I started small by keeping my phone on the across the room and putting silent mode on. That worked surprisingly well when I was at home, with the urges to check it fading. But, when I’m out, I obviously can’t keep it away from me, so I found a different solution. I turned off all notifications (except emails) permanently. Even to this day when I get a text or a Snapchat, my phone won’t notify me until I start using it.
This felt weird at first. I was checking my phone more to see if anything would pop. But, since I had vibrate off, my phone became just another thing in my pocket like a wallet or my keys. The fact that these ideas were working surprised me. Wasting time was becoming less of an issue.
A freeing feeling it was. I wanted to take it to the next level. Not only did I want to stop wasting time on my phone, but I wanted to be doing something productive/creative when on it. For example, if I’m waiting for the train or standing around in a line. So, I downloaded life-tracking apps, idea apps, to do lists, etc. Instead of reaching for my phone to use Twitter, I want to reach to write an idea down or to take a cool photo. This was difficult as once I opened my phone all the social notifications would flood in. But focusing on my goal made them easier to ignore. As time went on and I got used to this new usage of my phone, it became second nature.
There were, of course, relapses where I’d waste an hour on Reddit or something. I had to realize that and stop right away. My time wasted to productivity ratio has entirely swapped. According to my tracking app, I spend less than an hour a day average on social/time wasting apps down from an average of four hours a day. It’s something I didn’t think would happen, but here I am. Very proud of this accomplishment and it has proven to be a positive change in my life.
I am reminded of back when I was younger and didn’t have a phone. I could play a game for hours or watch a whole movie without being distracted even once. Those feelings are coming back, and hopefully, they’re here to stay.
I want to clarify that this post isn’t to talk down to those who do spend most of their time on their phone. If that’s what you like you do you. In my case, it was getting unhealthy, and change needed to happen.