How many separate times a day do you think you touch your phone? 20? 50? 100 if you’re super bored?
And that’s just for average users. The heaviest smartphone users touch (tap, swipe) their phone 5,427 per day.
That’s 340 times per waking hour.
5 times per minute.
Even average users touch their phones twice per minute.
This metric includes every touch – so every time you tap, click or swipe that counts as a touch. That’s a lot of touching. For average users all this touching equals about 145 minutes per day, heavier users would touch their phones for 225 minutes.
This doesn’t sound so bad but that equals 2.5 hours in our day.
Using a smart phone for 2.5 hours a day isn’t a problem at all, if you are conscientiously using that time for that purpose. If you spend a blissful 2.5 hours a day chatting to your mates on Facebook, looking at beautiful Instagram photos and reading interesting articles that fulfil you, I’d say that is time well spent. However if you’re spending 2.5 hours a day (or more) mindlessly scrolling, not really absorbing anything you’re looking at, that’s a lot of time that could be spent doing something else. Like going for a walk, reading a book, doing something creative or watching a movie.
Sometimes I have people ask me where I find the time to do things. Like crochet my own clothing or cook healthy meals every night. I don’t have kids so that’s a good start but honestly? It’s because I don’t waste time. Lying on the couch and dicking around on my phone is just as appealing to me as it is to most of the population but it provides me very short-lived satisfaction. I’d much rather spend half an hour in the kitchen making a beautiful meal than lie in a comatose state on the couch for ‘just a few minutes’ and then panic and order takeaway for dinner because I blinked and an hour disappeared.
Having said that, I do spend a lot of time on Facebook because it’s awesome. I get to see what my mates back home are doing, I get to see my niece spam on my mum’s wall and I get to catch up on my favourite blogs. It’s great… but’s not 4 hours a day worth of great.
Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between quality phone time and non- quality phone time. For me personally, it’s all about The Loop. I check email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Then I check email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. By the time I’ve finished ‘checking’ (what even is this ‘checking’? What am I expecting to be there? Free puppies? Piles of unclaimed cash?) Instagram it’s time to check email again.
When I find myself in the dreaded loop, here are a few things I do to break my phone addiction.
1. Delete the biggest time sucker apps off your phone
So I obviously need to be on Facebook nearly every day. I have a blog, I have a business and I have two podcasts that rely on me being on Facebook. It would be almost a year ago now that I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and I can’t tell you how much of a difference it’s made to my life. I no longer default to picking up my phone if a webpage is taking longer than a nanosecond to load. I don’t mindlessly scroll through Facebook while I’m waiting at the post office and I don’t make myself feel sick on the tram because I can’t help but spend the whole of my 20-minute commute commenting on other people’s Facebook posts. At the moment Apple don’t allow you to block apps but if you’re an Android user, Offtime will actually stop you from accessing apps like Instagram and Facebook. If every time you pick up your phone, you don’t get that hit of Facebook dopamine, you’ll soon disassociate your phone with those kinds of feelings. If I need to do a Facebook live crochet class or a lesson for Secret Bloggers’ Business, I just re-install the app for those events and delete it again when I’m done. Easy.
2. Leave your phone at home often
3. Every time you find yourself dicking around on your phone, give yourself permission to do something you like
The problem with phones is that they provide this lovely little warm sanctuary of distraction. You can hang out there for 20 minutes, no trouble and go back to what you’re doing. It’s also weirdly acceptable to be on your phone. If you’re at work, you can quickly grab your phone and text someone or share a link and it’s fine. You couldn’t take the book you’re reading out in the middle of your workday and read a few chapters though. That would be extremely weird but essentially it’s the same thing. If you’re using your phone in your downtime as a relaxation tool, give yourself permission to do something you really want to do instead. Let’s face it, when you plop down on the couch with your phone when you get home from work, you’re going to be there for the next 20 minutes. If you want to spend that time on Facebook, go for it and enjoy it but if you’d rather read, knit, paint, go for a walk, make an amazing gourmet dinner or meet a mate for a drink, do that instead. You can spend your time any way you like, just make sure you’re doing it on purpose. It’s so hard to give yourself 20 minutes to read your book in the afternoon (it’s like weirdly indulgent or something) but wasting that time on Facebook is fine? We need to change that narrative.
I often block Facebook for the full 8 hours of my workday. I wake up in the morning, go to the gym and then check Facebook for the first time at about 9 am. I’ll spend about 20 minutes answering comments and then I shut it off until 4 pm. I don’t get much productive stuff done from 4 pm onwards so Facebook is a great place for me to be at that time. I also don’t have Facebook on my phone and I’ve logged out and deleted the password from the Safari browser. It’s so unbelievably freeing and makes me a million times more productive. For example, I’ve been writing this article for the last hour without checking Facebook because it’s not an option. With constant Facebook checking, this article could have taken four hours to write. Without it, I’m looking at two hours tops.
5. If you can, delete your Facebook profile
I’d love to try this but I can’t because of work but if I wasn’t an internet person, I straight up wouldn’t have Facebook. Or at the very least I’d have my settings so tight I’d only see things I wanted to see and it would be for family and friends. I’d love to hear any thoughts from people who aren’t on Facebook or have taken big breaks from Facebook. Let me live vicariously through you.
If you want more tips for breaking your phone addiction, this episode of Straight & Curly will totally sort you out.
Random thought: Don’t you think it’s odd that we all our phones ‘phones’? I use my phone as a phone about once a week to call my mother and that’s it. It just seems odd that I call it something that it kind of isn’t… it’s more of a mini computer. That obviously doesn’t have the same ring to it, but it’s 99% NOT a phone.