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Six Ways to Reduce Your Cellphone Addiction

Six Ways to Reduce Your Cellphone Addiction

Happiness expert Neil Pasricha tackles cellphone addiction in his latest column for The Toronto Star. A Harvard MBA, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning blogger, and one of the most popular TED speakers in the world, Neil draws on the latest research in happiness to increase individual performance and create a more positive and productive workplace.

His latest battle is with his (and our!) addiction to cellphones. Below are his six recommendations to “fight the good fight.” See the full column here.

1. Download Moment. Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.” I recommend downloading the Moment app, which simply tells you at noon each day how much time you spent on your phone yesterday. Trust me: The first time you see a number in the eight-hour range … you drop the drug.

2. Go black and white. Have you ever walked into a casino and been dazzled into a jaw-dropping stupor from all the whizzing colours, flashing slots and ringing bells? Does that remind you of anything rectangular in your pocket, by chance? Casinos know bright colours and flashing lights attract your eyes. Same with phones. So, turn your phone to black and white. All functionality is still there! You just aren’t attracted to it anymore. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings – General – Accessibility — Display Accommodations — Colour Filters — Grayscale. Yes, conveniently buried under six menu options! But you can do it.

3. Add extra swipes before work. So many of us are merging our lives into one phone. Do you have your work email on the same phone you want to take out on Friday night? If so, my suggestion is to separate the accounts (for example, use the Mail app for your personal email and download the Gmail app for work, etc.) and then move the work app a few screens away. What do the extra three or four thumb swipes do? They give your brain a conscious one-second pause before you subconsciously check your work email at midnight after the bars.

4. Night Shift mode. Recent research from Australia shows that exposing our brains to bright screens before bed reduces melatonin production — the sleep hormone. Bummer! What helps? Well, if you can’t stay off your phone then at least enable Night Shift mode. Mine is on from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. It dims the screen and reduces that blinding brightness which makes your evolutionarily slow brain think it’s morning time. If you’re on an iPhone, go to Settings – Display & Brightness – Night Shift.

5. Buy an alarm clock. Any retailer will happily sell you an alarm clock for $10 or $15. If you’re using your cellphone as your alarm clock — stop! Consider the $15 an investment in your mental sanity as it will allow you to wind down and wind up without getting pinged with the latest Trump tweet. It’s much nicer when you get back to waking up with Roger and Marilyn.

6. Disable notifications. What’s the first thing every app asks you when you download it? “EatMoreDoughnuts would like to send you Notifications. OK?” You click OK because, well, you’d like to eat more doughnuts. And you just downloaded it. And the app never lets you forget it. Get intentional. If you’re on an iPhone, go to Settings – Notifications and scroll down your list of apps. Start by turning them all off and then cruise the list again combing for anything that might be crucial.