Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Today, I am going to write about the reason that has prevented me from writing over the past three weeks. It wasn't some trauma or adversity but a tool that had all my attention. It is my most annoying possession without which I cannot live. The truth is I resent spending time on my phone, but that doesn't stop me from doing it. I vowed to stop being productive a while ago as it was stressing me out. So, I had to find a way to fill those gaps and saw my phone as my only rescue. What else could I possibly do in the lockdown anyway?
I knew from the moment that I couldn't spend time texting or scrolling through social media. So, I decided to do random stuff such as editing videos, organising my gallery, creating playlists, clearing old chats etc. I thought these activities were so dull that there is no way in hell I would get addicted to my phone, turns out I was wrong. Within a few days, I got addicted to the idea of always having my phone in my hand. A week ago I decided to end my break, turns out it is not that easy. I started having problems with focus as I had this urge to pick my phone up every five minutes.
I eschewed it, so I decided to deal with it using the same steps I used two years ago. Quick recap, I started using my phone mindfully two years ago as it was depressing me. Then, I was able to beat an addiction built over the years in a few months. So, this time I used the same method to get rid of my phone addiction within a few days. Sorry for this long yarn. I intend to convey that phone addiction isn't an incurable problem. If I could do it twice, so can you. Here is a list of things that worked for me. Know that it is not a foolproof list, but it won't hurt to try, right?
1. Find your 'Type'
For the convenience of explaining cellphone usage among people, I have divided the users into two groups.
Those who need to do two things simultaneously while being attentive towards both tasks, like the people who can text while watching a movie and still remember every detail.
Those who cannot do more than one task at once. If you have a hard time talking to your mom while texting, you are in this group.
This distinction will come handy while implementing the next couple of steps.
2. Recognise Triggers
This step involves recognising the reason behind your excessive phone usage. You might have already put yourself in one of the categories.
The most common trigger for the set of multitaskers is the need to do more. When people in this category tend to find themselves in situations where they could do more than one task, they don't give up the opportunity. If you think you do the same the third point is especially for you.
Talking about the other set of people there could be a wide range of distinct reasons for this compulsive behaviour. A common reason for the same is getting your mind off something that is bothering you. In that case, refer point four.
If you can't relate to any of these, you'll have to read the entire thing to find out what works for your situation.
3. Replace Addiction
This point is mainly for the multitaskers but might work for anyone looking to reduce their screen time. The thing that you have got to keep in mind is that sometimes you use your phone because you have to do something and not because of the content of your phone.
The best thing to do is to substitute your habit for something else. Choosing a healthy alternative like a book or those exercise for couch potatoes might be preferred, but it is all on you. It could be as easy as grabbing a pen whilst watching a movie to scribble.
Maybe sometime later in your life, you'll start enjoying the calm of focusing on one task, but for now, it might be a good idea to switch.
I am not suggesting that you give up your phone. I am pointing towards the fact that you don't always need to use it for the sake of using it.
4. Deal With Your Issue
If you have some underlying issue compelling you to use your phone, it might be a good idea to figure ow how to deal with the root cause. All of the cures you find across the internet for phone addiction are related to the immediate problems and deal with quick fixes. My advice would be to try and change the thing that is bothering you. If you can't change it then talk about it, to a friend, to me or a specialist.
When I say issue I am not only pointing towards a mental issue but also the problems in your immediate environment.
5. Detach Your Productivity from Your Phone
All of us aspire to be productive. We put a lot of effort to prevent ourselves from wasting our time. Most of you might want to reduce your phone usage only to be more productive. You might feel that if you have productivity apps on your phone, then it is okay to use your phone.
The productivity apps on your phone don't make you productive. Be honest what proportion of the time you spend on your phone is on those apps? Instead of fooling yourself, uninstall and don't give yourself a reason to use your phone.
6. Don't Set a Limit
The biggest mistake you make while reducing your phone usage is setting a limit. The limit you set is most often impractical and even the times it is practical, the times when we exceed our limits we feel like we are beyond reform. Just try and measure your phone usage against your previous usage without setting up a limit.
7. Change Your Sleep Ritual
Our phones are usually the last thing we see before going to sleep and the first thing you see when you wake up. This habit is not only bad for your sleep and overall wellbeing, but also develops a subconscious need for your phone. This need contributes to addictive behaviour. Let me tell you the best things you can do instead of using your phone in the morning and in the night.
Read fiction before going to bed as it helps you in getting a quality sleep
Wake up to drink a glass of water in the morning and just look out of your window, it is so much better than looking at your phone.
Do anything you want to, just don't use your phone at these two times.
8. No Punishments
You might want to reduce your phone usage for a lot of reasons. The main motive backing it all up would be happy and if you start punishing yourself every time you slip, you won't be happy. Instead, let it go. If you enjoyed your extra time on your phone, its okay and if you didn't just learn from it and move on. Phone addiction is already hard, don't be hard on yourself.
I hope these tips help you as they have helped me.
Wishing you all the best.