Picked up your phone just to check it only to emerge an hour and a half later? Or have you found your catch-ups with friends involve more screen time than conversation? You're not alone.
On average, Kiwis spend the equivalent of two working days a week glued to our screens, and nearly half of us report using our phones more frequently than the year before. It may be time to get our phone habits under control?
Here are some tips from Catherine Price, author of How to Break Up With Your Phone.
Reframe the way you think about spending time apart from your phone. It's not about denying yourself pleasure – that's a surefire way to have you hopping back online. Instead, think of the time you spend on your phone as time you're not doing things that make you happy, like catching up with friends or spending time on your hobbies.
Think about other activities you'd rather spend more time on. Then create 'triggers' for those activities that will make it easier to do them: leave a book out on your bedside table, pack your gym bag the night before, or make a shopping list for a new recipe. On the other hand, remove obstacles that will make it harder to stay away from your phone: charge your phone somewhere other than the bedroom, disable notifications that you don't need to know about, and make meals a phone-free zone.
Picking up your phone to check the time or look at a text and getting lost in social media is what Catherine calls 'zombie checks', as you don't realise where the time has gone, and often you feel like you've been wasting time. Instead, create 'speed bumps' – small obstacles that make you think consciously about whether you want to be on your phone or not, such as putting a rubber band around your phone as a reminder to pause before you unlock it mindlessly.
Practising trial separations can help you get in the habit of doing things without your phone in reach. Leave it in your bag on the bus instead of scrolling through Facebook, and make a conscious decision to go without it while popping to the shops or going out for a walk.
It may sound counterintuitive to use an app to help break away from your phone – but they can work. Time-tracking apps like Moment tell you just how much time you're spending on your screen, while apps like Flipd let you block access to chosen apps and websites when you want to take a break. And for an app that keeps you on task while helping the planet in the process, try Forest.
The app lets you grow virtual trees when you spend time off your phone – though if you cave, your plant will die – and when you've managed to grow a tree, you'll get credits you can use to plant a tree in a developing country through Trees for the Future.
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