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How To Spend Less Time on Your Phone: A Guide to a Happier, More Productive Life

productive pair of artists in studio not using phones

If the idea of going without your phone feels like Everest, it’s time to take a break!

What would your life look like if you woke up tomorrow without your phone? Would you even wake up on time? The 83% of Americans who use their cell as an alarm clock wouldn’t. 

Would you be able to pay for your morning coffee, or do you always pay with your phone? What would you do while commuting to work without your phone to scroll through or play music from? How would your body and brain respond to leaving home without it? Would you feel anxious? Stressed? Helpless?

Almost half of the country admits to having a cellphone addiction, but the actual numbers are likely much, much higher than that. Most of us find it seemingly impossible to stay away from screens. The thing is, it’s hard to get off your phone when you don’t even realize how much you depend on it. But if the idea of going without it for even a day feels like your Everest, it might be time to take some space. 

productive creative workspace with coffee and muffins with phone face-down

Why You Should Get Off Your Phone

In a world where we have every reason to stay connected via technology, there’s overwhelming evidence proving the opposite. Beyond feeling out of control due to cellphone addiction, the downward spiral of doomscrolling, and the attention economy profiting off our distraction, there’s a whole slew of reasons to stop looking at phone screens. 

  • Protect your eyes. Staring at screens tires the eyes, leading to strain, dryness, and potential headaches. Taking time away can increase your comfort and reduce your risk of experiencing computer vision syndrome

  • Find more free time. Quitting your phone addiction opens hours of free time that you can now enjoy with your family, spend learning a new hobby, or practicing self-care. 

  • Improve your sleep quality. Whether you’re stuck in a late-night doomscroll or soaking up melatonin-blocking blue light in bed, no doubt being addicted to phone use negatively impacts sleep. So dream sweeter by learning how to break up with your phone. 

  • Save money by quitting online shopping. Targeted ads, sale notifications, influencer promo codes…online shopping makes it too easy to get that quick dopamine hit by hitting “checkout.” Save some dollars and shop more mindfully when you do it the old-fashioned way (you know, in an actual store). It’s the best incentive to stop looking at phone screens! 

  • Increase your productivity. It’s no surprise that reducing your screen time boosts productivity. Now you can actually pay attention to the tasks at hand! Practicing digital minimalism also helps delay gratification — a skill vital to productivity. This might mean shorter working hours for you, lowering your chance of burnout

  • Reduce negative effects of social media. Social media platforms aren’t all sunshine and rainbows — we all know that. So while these apps can elicit community, there are a lot of divisive, sad, and draining aspects that you won’t miss while on your phone hiatus. The negative effects of social media can’t get to you now! 

  • Support your cognitive function. The more screens we use, the worse it is for our brains and mental health. Your concentration, memories, and social functioning skills are supported when you get off your phone, while your risk of developing dementia decreases. It’s a clear win. 

The line between helpful and harmful screen use is different for everyone.

Evaluate Your Relationship With Technology

Tech is a hugely beneficial aspect of our lives. That’s why we have it, after all! For many people, smartphones are a life-changing tool that provides us with a sense of safety, gives us the power to access a wealth of information in a matter of seconds, and helps us virtually connect with loved ones “face to face” from a distance. They’re like a Swiss Army Knife for the digital world. 

And the truth is, we can have a healthy relationship with tech. It’s not an inherent evil! But when it’s difficult to stop looking at phone screens or when our tech use starts causing more harm than good, it might be time to consider how healthy your relationship with technology is. 

The line between helpful and harmful screen use is different for everyone. Depending on your job, location, or abilities, you might rely on cell phones more than others. You might even have a healthier relationship with tech despite this! But even if you don’t need to learn how to spend less time on your phone right now, it’s always smart to stay conscious of your digital consumption. 

How to Break Your Phone Addiction

You know the cliche, “the first step is admitting you have a problem.” But it really is true. Unfortunately, few of us are willing to admit we’re addicted to phone use, though most of us can benefit from reducing our screen time. So if you’re ready to start working towards a device-free life, here’s how to break up with your phone. 

1. Notice Your Screen Time

If you don’t think you’re addicted to phone use, check out your screen time reports. You’ll be stunned by the hours you’ve wasted scrolling through content that you can’t even recall! Even if you know statistics about average screen use, seeing your own numbers is a big reality check. It might even be the push you need to stay away from screens and learn how to spend less time on your phone.  

2. Create a Phone-Free Zone

Most cellphone pickups happen absentmindedly. Avoid the issue entirely by keeping your phone out of your immediate reach, so you have to make an effort to grab it. Don’t worry: you don’t have to leave it at home or lock it in a drawer, but setting it in another room or anywhere out of arm’s reach makes this subconscious habit intentional. And the more thought you have to put into starting the infinite scroll, the more likely you will stop looking at your phone so frequently. 

3. Delete Your Social Media Apps

Minimize the negative effects of social media apps by getting rid of them entirely. Or, at least temporarily. If you’re serious about learning how to break up with your phone for good, go ahead and delete those accounts completely. 

But, if you want to stop looking at phone screens for a bit, temporarily deleting the apps can help big time. If most of your tech time involves social media, making those apps harder to open absentmindedly is a helpful step. 

4. Do a Tech Cleanse

Challenge yourself to stay away from screens for just one day. That’s right, just a single day. Seems doable, right? By making small goals and proving to yourself that you can get off your phone for 24 hours, it feels much more possible that you can learn how to break your phone addiction permanently. 

From there, you can gradually increase the duration of your digital cleanses or have phone-free days more often. Starting small helps build your tolerance and reinforces the idea that, yes, you can get off your phone every now and then. 

Being around each other in real-time fosters a closeness you can’t get threough text messages.
So reduce the virtual connections and prioritize in-person connections instead.

5. Use Freedom 

The internet is filled with tempting notifications, clickbait, and distractions galore. Put that to rest and find Freedom instead! Our website-blocking software lets you choose where you want to spend your time by briefly preventing access to other time-draining sites. You can schedule distraction-free hours for yourself and filter out the useful apps from the rest. It’s like a better “do not disturb” mode that’ll teach you how to spend less time on your phone. 

6. Get Your Friends Involved

Goal setting is always more fun when other people are involved. Channel your competitive side by making bets on who can stay away from screens the longest, who can reduce their screen time the most, or take the competition away and form a support group to encourage one another. 

Either way, it’s good to let your loved ones know that you will stop looking at phone screens regularly so that they can expect less frequent communication.  

7. Find Pleasure in the Low-Tech Things

Learning how to break up with your phone doesn’t always sound appealing when you consider how many of your favorite things are tech related. If you really want to stay away from screens, you’ll have to find something to fill your newfound free time. Starting a new hobby is highly beneficial. 

Knitting or doing puzzles helps keep your hands busy the same way scrolling does, while reading is a portable activity you can take anywhere you bring a phone. Or, why not start writing letters to loved ones instead of texting? The options are endless!

old fashioned red phone boxes in a line in Bermuda

8. Start Connecting in Real Life

You know that nourished feeling you get after spending a few hours chatting with an old friend over a cup of coffee? Being around each other in real-time fosters a closeness you can’t get from any number of text messages. So reduce the virtual connections and prioritize in-person connections instead. There’s a reason why quality time is a love language, after all! 

9. Change Your Cell Plan

If you want to learn how to spend less time on your phone, put your money where your mouth is. Literally. By changing your phone plan to one that limits your data usage, you’ll have to pay anytime you exceed your allotted plan. Now that’s a good reason to stop looking at your phone! 

man in nature with acoustic guitar

Get Off Your Phone and Find Freedom

There’s a lot of life to be lived outside of your screen. When you stop looking at phone screens for hours on end, you’ll be amazed at how much free time you have, how much more productive you are, and how connected you feel to the real world. But don’t do it alone. Find Freedom in breaking your phone addiction today! 

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