Tech, Now + Beyond

3 doable ways to reduce your phone use – without throwing it away

Using your phone in a more conscious, measured way can be beneficial to your health and productivity.

Do you often feel like using your phone is a major time suck? I know I do.

 I know that when I’m nervous, I check my phone. When I’m bored, I check my phone. When I can’t sleep, I check my phone. When I’m busy, I’m still checking my phone. I’m not checking my phone for any specific reason. It’s just routine.

This constant phone usage also means that I’m glued to a screen nearly all the time. This excessive amount of screen time is not good, for me, or for anyone else. Constantly using your phone can interfere with your productivity, your sleep patterns, and even your mental health.

I’ve been wanting to break this habit because I know it’s not good for me. 

Here’s how I did it.

I started reading up quite a bit about using my phone more mindfully. I learned a couple of hacks like turning off notifications or leaving my phone in another room but  I also learned 3 incredible lesser-known hacks; by adopting them, I’ve been able to increase my productivity, and save time.

I’m sure if you follow them, you can as well!

1) Write it down (before you forget)

A person writes in a notebook while their laptop is open nearby.
Image description: A person writes in a notebook while their laptop is open nearby. Via Unsplash.

Have you ever picked up your phone to send off an email, only to find yourself scrolling through your Instagram feed half an hour later? Same.

I often get distracted by my app notifications. What can start with ‘quickly’ checking Facebook usually results in a few tweets, snaps, and a lot while later, I’ve completely forgotten the actual reason I started using my phone.

I broke this habit by writing down every little thing I wanted to do, even on social media – from sharing a post to writing a birthday message, to messaging my friend. Lists keep my phone usage purposeful, and it feels super satisfying to cross things off my little to-do list.

Yes, it seems like a mission to write down ‘send email to a colleague’ before actually sending off that email. But do you know what’s more time-consuming? Scrolling mindlessly through your feed. Avoid that timesuck by taking 15 seconds to write out a to-do list.

2) Allot dedicated time for scrolling

A close-up of a person's hand hovering over their phone. It looks like they are scrolling through their phone.
Image description: A close-up of a person’s hand hovering over their phone. It looks like they are scrolling through their phone. Via Unsplash

I’m often procrastinating by mindlessly scrolling through my social media feeds for ages.  It’s unproductive, it makes me feel bleh.

Instead of scrolling as a time-filler, what’s helped me is changing my mindset to: ‘Right! I’m going to take a break, lie on the couch, and mosey through my news feed for the next 20 minutes!’ During that time, I bookmark any articles I want to read for later.

This does two things. Firstly, it gets ‘scrolling’ out of my system, and it gives me a chance to catch up with the world. Secondly, it puts a cap on my scroll-time so I eventually do put my phone down.

I also like to think carefully about which app to open before I sit down. I try to look at one app at a time, and I select, depending on my mood. Twitter keeps me informed, but it can feel pretty upsetting because the news is often depressing. Instagram and Snapchat, on the other hand, are more ‘fun’ apps. When I feel down, I’d much rather look at Instagram than Facebook or Twitter.

3) Stop multitasking.

A person checks their phone while sitting at their laptop.
Image description: A person checks their phone while sitting at their laptop. Via Unsplash.

I feel weird doing one thing at a time. Often, if I’m watching a series, I need to do something else – like scroll through my phone. Or, if I’m cooking, I’d simultaneously listen to a podcast, check my phone, and cook.

Multitasking is often considered a useful skill, but doing it habitually – especially when it involves constant phone use – is not good.

The problem with multitasking is that you get into the habit of doing multiple things at once. Thus, you divide your focus instead of giving one task your full attention. As a result, you do half-jobs on multiple things instead of doing one thing properly at a time. This is a habit I’ve only noticed recently – and it’s one I want to break.  

If you can’t not multitask, try replacing your phone with clay, slime, or something textile to play with. That way, you get a break from your phone while keeping your hands busy.

Tech has its place in our life, and it can be hugely beneficial to us. But, it’s easy to become obsessive over our phones, to the point where its detrimental to our health. We can change that, one step at a time.