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Thursday, August 11, 2022

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How to Cure Your Phone Addiction

Are you addicted to your phone? Do find yourself spending more and more time each day endlessly scrolling, checking and responding to notifications? If so, I’m here to help you with some advice on how to cure your phone addiction.

Woman in bathrobe with phone. Text overlay of how to cure your phone addiction.

First, take the quiz

To start, it is helpful to understand where you are currently at and monitor how much time you are spending on your phone. We developed a quiz to assess your level of phone addiction, just complete it below to get your results.

So, what level of phone addict are you? We broke down the levels of phone addiction as follows:

  • Phone “Indifferent” – You have a healthy relationship with your phone and you likely aren’t addicted. Keep up the good work!
  • Phone “Attached” – You have a slight fixation with your phone, but you haven’t slipped into full obsession mode yet. Be careful, it’s time to pump the brakes while you can.
  • Phone “Fixated” – Uh oh, you have a problem. You recognize that you overuse your phone, but you haven’t done anything about it. Your relationship with your phone is dragging you down mentally, decreasing your productivity, and hurting your relationships.
  • Phone “Obsessed” – You use your phone constantly and compulsively without even thinking about it. It never leaves your side and you turn to it for distraction, comfort and entertainment. You may not realize it’s unhealthy, but your obsessive phone use is hurting your relationships and negatively affecting your mental state.

No matter what level you are at, you can always improve and benefit from decreasing your phone time. The tips below will help you to start making small changes today and have a healthier relationship with your phone.

Your phone addiction recovery plan

Step One – Track your time

Have you ever wondered how much time you actually spend on your phone in a week? Gaining an understanding of the actual time spent on your phone is key to help you reduce your screen time.

Luckily, this is easy to do. If you have an iPhone, it’s even built into the phone (just go to settings > screen time). Similar features exist for android under settings > Digital Wellbeing.

Screen shots of iphone screen time settings and usage

Once this feature is turned on, it will automatically track a lot of information about your phone usage, starting with a high level look at total screen time for the day or week. From there, you can drill into more specific details, such as total pickups, notifications and time spent on individual apps.

Screen shots of iphone screen time usage, pickups and notifications

I suggest tracking your time for a week to gain an understanding of your current phone usage level and habits. This will be a wake up call for many of you. It will help you see and understand your current habits and set a starting point for reducing phone usage in the future.

Now that you have an understanding of your level of addiction and how much time you’re spending on your phone, it’s time to start working on reducing your smartphone usage.

Step Two – Review your bad habits

The quiz above is based on the most common bad habits and signs of phone obsession. Some other common bad habits are:

  • Looking at your phone while you’re on the toilet.
  • Having your phone plugged in at your bedside table when you sleep. 
  • Looking at your phone/texting/emailing while walking or driving.
  • Pulling out your phone by default when you have a free moment (like in line at the grocery store).
  • Using your phone to check social media/email/other while watching TV.
  • Using your phone at the dinner table.
  • Texting people who are in the same house or same room.
  • Comparing your life to the lives of others you see through your phone on social media.
  • Constantly taking pictures/videos with your phone instead of enjoying the moment.
  • Looking at your phone just because people around you are looking at theirs.

We’ve summarized the quiz, habits and a recovery plan that you can easily download. Just click the button below:

Download Recovery Plan

Take a look at the quiz and review the list of bad phone habits above. How many of these actions are you guilty of doing? You might be asking yourself – “how will I quit doing all of these things?

Don’t get overwhelmed. You should start by first acknowledging and accepting that it won’t happen overnight. It will be hard and you’ll have to work at it.

The good news is that you don’t have to quit doing all of these things at once, it’s not realistic. You’re going to start chipping away at stopping these bad habits over time. If you take it one step at a time, you can make a real improvement in your life an and cure your phone addiction.

Phone addiction statistics with text explanations

Step Three – Pick your worst offenders

Based on your review of your phone usage and habits, decide which bad habits are the top 1-3 items you want to stop doing immediately. Also, feel free to add in items/habits that aren’t on the quiz or list, just pick the top bad habits you want to change.

Step Four – Work on it for a week

Ok, here comes the hard part. Those top items on your list, you have to stop doing them for a week. Hopefully you’ll stop doing them for a longer period or forever, but just start with a week. It will be hard, but you can do it! Use our recovery plan template to write down the bad habits you are working on. Bonus points if you share your plan with someone else, it will help to hold you accountable!

Download Recovery Plan
Image of step by step phone addiction recovery plan document

Changing your behavior and curing phone addiction is a process. Breaking it down into small steps makes this process a lot easier. Here is where you have to do the work and focus on changing those bad habits that are most important to you. Take it day by day or hour by hour if needed. Use the tips in the post below to help you accomplish this.

Step Five – Repeat steps 2-4

I have a feeling that after you quit your top phone addiction habits you’re going to want to keep working on the rest of your list. Quitting those bad habits for a week can be very liberating and help to improve your quality of life. Build on the momentum you created in the first week and keep going!

The key here is to keep your new good habits (e.g., not using your phone in the bathroom) and continue to quit other bad phone use habits. If you stopped taking your phone to the bathroom for a week or stopped using it while driving, don’t start doing it again! Just work on adding to your new “good habits” over time by focusing on 1-2 new items per week to stop doing.

Bonus Step – Finish your list

Here is where you decide how far you want to go. You may have 20 items on your list you want to quit, or you may have five. Deciding how many phone addiction habits you want to break is your personal choice. Just keep working on them week by week until you’ve conquered each behavior you want to stop.

Also, one final note on working on removing bad phone habits. Remember that it is a work in progress. It’s easy to “relapse” and fall back into old habits. Eventually you will find yourself scrolling needlessly or checking your phone when you shouldn’t be. That’s ok. Just acknowledge it, move on and work on doing better next time.

Two hands in handcuffs with text overlay of

Some helpful tips:

Below are some helpful tips, tools and advice you can use when you are working on changing your bad phone habits.

  1. Define your why – We all have a reason we want to stop using our phones so much. Define yours so you can bring it to mind when you have the desire to check your phone.
  2. Put it out of reach – Find a place to plug in your phone outside of your bedroom. When working, put your phone away in another room or at least out of sight.
  3. Turn off notifications – Put your phone on do not disturb. Check your notification settings on apps and emails. Turn notifications off so you aren’t constantly reacting to them.
  4. Set limits & downtime – Using your phone settings you can schedule downtime, limit time spent on individual apps and even limit communication. Use these tools to prevent you from over-using your phone. For IOS this is under settings > screen time and for Android it’s settings > Digital Wellbeing. Or, you can use an app to limit phone use.
  5. Delete apps – Delete apps you want to quit using. If you have to re-install Instagram every time you want to check it, you might stop using it so much.
  6. Find healthy replacements – It’s helpful to replace screen time with something else. Read a book, play with your kids, meditate, take a nap, do a puzzle, listen to a podcast or go for a walk. Find something else to do with your time.
  7. Turn it off – Sounds simple right? You can just turn your phone off and put it away when you don’t want to use it.

Are you working to limit your phone use?

So, what do you plan on doing to stop using your phone so much? Live in the moment, put your phone away and enjoy life without your phone for a while. I promise, you will feel better. Leave a comment below if you are going to try and use your phone less and tell us what you plan on doing with your time instead!

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Man at desk with phone and ipad. Text overlay of how to cure your phone addiction.

How to Cure Your Phone Addiction


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