After years of experimentation, many failures and successes, I finally realized the key to quitting compulsive smartphone usage. Eliminate anything that has the capacity to engage you endlessly. Apps that have no end to their content. Social media apps, entertainment apps and endless (and online) games. Here’s how I conquered my three main evils:
YouTube was a big one. I was checking the app multiple times a day to see if my favorite channels had uploaded new videos. Disabling it, I felt at peace. I still watch YouTube occasionally on Android TV and iPad but it is much better since I don’t have access to these devices all day long so I watch only a few videos and that’s it.
Instagram. I started using instagram a few years ago with the sole intention of looking at amazing photography to inspire me to take better photos. If you scroll down my instagram profile, you will see that the oldest ones were focused on capturing the good moments in nature. Then they eradicated the linear homepage and the discover tab became much more enticing. From the guy who followed only inspiring photographers, I became the guy who followed multiple funny pages, comics and more. I made another private account to keep up with real-life friends (although this one did not cause me much strife). Then I decided to completely uninstall the app when I realized (and checked) that it is possible to post pictures from mobile web browser. Now I can publicize my blog posts without using the app! I do still use instagram app on ipad. Viewing instagram on ipad is terrible since it is not natively supported on the big screen, it is scaled up from the iphone app. You get two options: a smaller window or a scaled up, stretched interface. In both cases the images are wonky and scrolling on that huge screen is very cumbersome.
Facebook app has always stayed off my phone because I was always wary that they are spying on me through the app. I used to use it extensively on the browser but that went away gradually. What helped was signing out from the website, so entering login details every time was not worth it. Plus I got sick of all the drama there. I do still post new article links on my page so that is one day per week I use social media. Never for more than 10-15 minutes. Even if I get lost scrolling, I quickly realize the reason I am here, do it and get out.
What helps is the fact that I have a productivity focused phone featuring a beautiful physical keyboard. The display isn’t too vibrant and overall, the phone encourages me to use it less, only for productive work. What’s more, my phone lasts two days easily, even three at times. All this while listening to music, using running apps, messaging apps, podcasts and notes, calendar, tasks.
The key is to make your phone boring with zero enticing content. Nothing to do! I have ensured that I use my phone with purpose, with specific goals in mind. No more senseless scrolling, no more desires to check what is new. In addition, I keep books and my kindle lying all over the house so whenever I am bored, I pick up the book instead of the boring phone!