We’ve all been there. You casually reach your phone—and suddenly, without even being fully aware of what you’re doing, you’ve opened Facebook. Maybe you barely paid attention to an entire episode of your favorite television show because you were too preoccupied
Just think what you could do if you could reclaim all the time you’ve lost to your phone. Learn a new language? Tackle that stack of novels on your nightstand?
Start small. Commit to keeping your phone out of reach at meal times. If you want to take it a step further, play the phone game with friends or family: everyone puts their phone in the middle of the table. The first person to reach for theirs has to pay the entire bill.
Buy an alarm clock. You’re probably relying on your phone to wake up in the morning. Instead, buy an actual clock—they’re available for around $5 on Amazon—and leave your phone in another room for the night. Having it right next to you when you fall asleep and wake up makes it more likely that you’ll spend the time you should be sleeping or getting ready clicking through your freshman year roommate’s vacation pictures. Which, let’s be honest, you didn’t need to see anyway.
Log out of your social media accounts during the day. When you sit down at your desk in the morning, take a second to log out of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon or any other apps that you tend to use as a distraction during moments of boredom or stress. Sometimes, we open these apps before we even realize what we’re doing. Being confronted with a login screen forces you to think twice before you abandon your to-do list.
Turn off your notifications. If you’re compelled to reach for your phone every time a politician says something nutty or your old friend responds to your Instagram story, you’re never going to put it down. Just head to Settings > Notifications to silence anything you deem non-essential—and create a designated time for catching up on news or social media.
See things in black and white. Studies increasingly show that many apps activate the rewards centers in our brains. To tone down the stimulation factor, visit “Accessibility” category of your phone’s settings. (On an iPhone: Display Accommodations > Color Filters; on a Samsung, Vision > Grayscale.) Somehow, your Facebook feed isn’t quite as alluring in shades of gray.
Track your time. Installing an app that monitors your smartphone use—or paying more attention to Apple’s new Screen Time feature—is beneficial in both the short and long term. Knowing how much time you’re dedicating to your phone each day can be just the motivation you need to kick the habit. And over time, you’ll be able to monitor your progress and hold yourself accountable. Even better, enlist a like-minded friend with whom to swap daily stats. Nothing brings out our best like a bit of friendly competition.