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Productivity

Boring Phone: How to Stop Phone Addiction

A look at the concept of boring phone and how to stop phone addiction using small lifestyle changes.

I must admit, I’m quite addicted to my smartphone. My average daily screen time used to touch 9+ hours, which was not clearly healthy. This article is a follow-up to the one I published last year on the importance of an attention diet. My smartphone addiction had bad effects on me like neck and back pain due to poor posture, lack of attention and inability to concentrate on things. Since we are living in the 21st century and our world is quite interconnected, there was no point in disowning a smartphone. I came across the idea that the only way to stop my phone addiction was to make my phone a boring one. The boring phone is a sequence of steps or methods one take to ensure that his/her/their smartphone is so boring to use. This can sound quite funny, but the trick clearly worked for me and within a few months of implementing this in my life, I could see my screen times reducing to over 70%.

The idea was to ensure that I consume as less information as possible via my smartphone and reduce as many triggers that force me to pick up my phone. My primary means of information consumption was through my laptop and I used my phone to consume content only while travelling or during unavoidable circumstances. Following are some steps, and tips that I followed in the Boring Phone framework such that I’m less addicted to my smartphone. I do not claim that following this made me completely free from smartphone addiction, but these steps clearly had an impact on my life. Any suggestions mentioned in the comments that are relevant to this framework will be added to this article with a mention.

  • Try to use a smartphone with a smaller screen size. A smaller screen size means it’s harder to watch video content. I made a switch couple of months back from Oneplus to an iPhone 13 Mini which has a 5.4″ screen. I no longer watch very long content on my phone as the screen is too small!
  • Ensure that there are no streaming apps on your smartphone. This includes Netflix, Youtube, etc. I even cancelled my Youtube Premium subscription as I found that ads actually prevent me from watching content for too long.
  • Do not grant permission to send notifications for all apps. Only give notification access to apps that are extremely important like banking-related apps.
  • Set your phone on silent mode or DND as much as possible.
  • Turn off the notification sound on your smartphone.
  • Uninstall all social media apps from your smartphone and access them only via the web using your laptop.
  • Turn off all recommended and personalized suggestions across apps. If you’re using an iOS device, ask the app to not track your information.
  • Do not browse Wikipedia on your smartphone browser.
  • Make use of focus modes on your smartphone. If you’re working set your phone to work mode so that you’re undistracted.
  • Even if your phone is slower, try not to upgrade as a faster phone can keep you addicted for longer periods of time.
  • Do not install any games on your smartphone.
  • Do not sleep or wake up with a phone next to your bed. Ensure that your phone is at least a few steps away from your bed.
  • Do not use your smartphone on the toilet. I prefer reading newspapers or Kindle while using the toilet.
  • Make a decision such that while you are consuming content on your smartphone, do it only while you’re sitting in a chair or standing, but not in your bed.
  • Try not to use your smartphone at least 30 minutes before sleeping and after waking up.
  • Set a boring wallpaper such that you do not have any visual cues to pick up your smartphone even to check the picture.
  • While you’re travelling and taking photos, ensure that your phone is in flight mode. This makes you more mindful while clicking photos.

Long story short, make your phone a boring one to use.

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