Smartphones! How to quit the Addiction?

Have you ever imagined 24 hours without any screen on a single go? To be very honest I can’t, and I think no one can, and the way tech makes our life easy nobody should. But at the same time keeping a track of the time when you are in the virtual world is important.

“Keep that phone of yours aside and start doing the work. Kids these days are always stuck on phones. You will damage your eyes.” We all have heard such statements at least once. The worst part is they are true.

It’s completely understood that all we have got now is this virtual world in our hands but this can’t lessen the importance of the basic human touch.

If you observe, you will find smartphones that were supposed to help us are hooking us and using our time. But will life become much easier if they are just gone, obviously NO!

What is it about these devices that make us get attached to them so much?

See it’s not the device.

To be very specific it’s about the feeling of boredom. For a moment let us consider our generation is always on phones. But what about the previous generation? They used to watch TV a lot, before that there were Radios, and even before that, comics.

We constantly seek diversion, no matter what we do; our parents found it in different ways, our grandparents sought it in other ways, but we were all distracted in some manner. The only difference this time is that we’re using our phones.

See, products which can solve a problem are always in demand, mobile phones are always in demand because they ease our work with few taps.

This is the power that tech provides. But when it comes to making a profit, some tend to manipulate it for their mean goals.

The question is, how I can make use of phones, instead of phones using me.

Warning! I’ll tell you the 4 steps method that helped me go from 68 hrs per week to 22 hrs per week, just make sure you immediately apply as you read the steps that are being recommended.

Step 1: Removal of external triggers

Open your smartphones, go through every app from A-Z and remove which you don’t need. To do so, you must ask a critical question “Is this app serving me?”.

Am sure you will find some zombie apps which are just killing space.

I love playing games with my friends, this way we get connected, but games necessarily don’t serve us, so should we just uninstall them?

Well, I didn’t! Instead what I did was hide them. Usually, whenever I opened my phone, I would have opened WhatsApp, then moved to Instagram, then checked a few emails, and at last, opened up a game, and then back to WhatsApp and the loop continues. At the end of the day, I always said I was too busy to do anything, but I was stuck in this loop in reality.

As of now, they are hidden, I have to make a conscious decision each time to open the game. And this resistance worked for me.

Step 2: Replace the wanted

The previous step was easy because you uninstalled apps that no longer serve you. Now find which apps are consuming your time.

If you are using apps like Instagram or Snapchat a lot, to avoid them you can follow the game technique, just hide them till you want to access them, as per the time set by you.

Most sites and social media nowadays have a web version and an app.

If you are constantly stuck to apps like Meta, Instagram, Youtube, Discord, Telegram uninstall them and use them on your PC.

A key thing that makes us enter the social media loop is “Trying to see the time”.

We open press power buttons just to see the time, but those mini notifications usually trigger a different path. 

The most highly recommended thing is to get yourself a watch! Whenever you want to see the time. A watch gives you information only about time, not all those unnecessary notifications.

Just because your phone appears to be capable of doing everything does not imply it should.

Step 3: Rearrange the target.

As your phone is decluttered, make sure you aim for nothing in your phone that can pull you away from the traction.

Tony Stubblebine is the chief editor in the popular medium publication Better Humans. He was the 6th employee of Twitter and knows how algorithms and designs are made to hook the users’ attention, so he suggests “Essential Home Screen.”

He suggests categorizing apps into three categories: “Primary Tools,” “Aspirations,” and “Slot Machines.”

He says Primary Tools are the applications that help you accomplish defined tasks that you rely on often. Getting a ride, finding a location, adding an appointment. Whenever you open your mobiles, you must see just these five or six necessary applications.

He calls Aspirations are the tasks you want to spend time doing: meditation, yoga, exercise, reading books, or listening to podcasts.

Slot Machines are the apps that you open and get lost in. Email, Twitter, Meta, Instagram, Snapchat, Discord, Telegram, etc.” 

Stubblebine suggested that you must rearrange your phone’s home screen to display only primary tools and your aspirations. 

What he is suggesting is that, keep only those apps on the home screen which you feel you are in charge of. 

If any mindless checking is being triggered by the app, rearrange it to a different screen so you don’t have direct access.

Step 4: Reclaim

After all this hard work, what can still distract you are PushNotifications.

According to Adam Marchick, CEO of mobile marketing company Kahuna, less than 15% of smartphone users modify their notification settings, which means the remaining 85 percent enable app developers to interrupt them anytime they choose to.

See, app makers just make the app, but it’s up to us, do we allow notifications or not. So the question here is, which notification to disable and how to optimize apps.

There was a time when the only way to disable notification of a particular app was completely disabling the notification for that particular but now, we can customize settings to various functionalities.

For example, if you want to see the notification of WhatsApp or Snapchat from a loved one but avoid other noises, you can set on notification for only those people.

Nowadays most devices whether it be IOS or AOS provide this functionality to most of the apps. All you have to do is google the thing you want to disable and a bunch of tutorials will be on your way.

And if this doesn’t work, you can still get help from third-party apps.

When it comes to notification, they could be categorized into two types:

1. Sound:  Audios are the best source to create an interrupt because even if you are not looking at the device you will still get a message. 

So make sure you set your priorities. When I started to use all these techniques, I found audios were quite a distracting thing for me.

So I set my device to vibrate only. This way my biggest sound distraction was removed. 

Sometimes, we could be in a noisy place, like driving, so whenever I feel like this, I just shift from vibrations only to sound mode. 

I have to do it manually, but this way I am being conscious and controlling things.

2. Sight: After the sound, visual triggers are a major source of an interrupt. You can customize things as per your need.

In my case, I only allow visual notifications in the form of those red circles on the corner of an app’s icon and I grant this permission only to messaging services like my Gmail, WhatsApp, and Snapchat.

These are not apps I use for emergencies, so I always know I can wait to open them when I’m ready.

Apart from this, things might get clumsy during nighttime, to get proper sleep, you might want to ignore all interrupts. Nowadays you can use “Bedtime Mode” as of Samsung UI user.

And during day time, usage of apps can be restricted by using “Focus mode” which you can customize as per the tasks you are doing.

I am an android user and use a Samsung device, so these features were quite handy, try finding something similar to your device, and if they are not by default you can just get it via any third party.

You can do many things to remove those unwanted external triggers on your phones. 

As powerful as the app makers’ tricks may be, they are no match for removing, replacing, rearranging, and reclaiming the apps that don’t serve you. 

By taking a fraction of the time you would otherwise spend getting distracted by your phone, you can customize it to eliminate unhelpful external triggers.

But this is just about one device, a smartphone. What about your computer, a bunch of everyday emails, useless and tedious group meetings in the office, social media feeds? Our life is full of distractions.

These ideas I have shared with you are from the book “Indistractable by Nir Eyal” and if you truly want to take charge of your life, and avoid letting companies use you and your time. 

Learn to hack back into the mind of marketers, by going through this book “Indistractable”.

If you liked this article, don’t forget to share it with your loved ones.

And if you have any doubts, just comment down below.


Priyanshu Kaushal

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