Break Your Smartphone Addiction

The smartphone has become a necessity, but it’s been shown to take more than its fair share of our time. It can be tempting not to buy an upgrade simply because you want your life back without the distraction of smartphones and social media. Here are some tips for breaking your phone addiction now!

i’m addicted to my phone” is a common phrase that people say when they’re trying to break their smartphone addiction. This article will help you with the steps you need to take in order to break your smartphone addiction.

Youngest looking at smartphones with blocking faces.

Smartphones are enchanted.

A pocket-sized gadget that lets you to instantaneously speak with nearly anybody on the planet, snap amazing images, and have access to humanity’s collective knowledge. Amazing!

However, the smartphone’s power, like that of any magical object, may be so alluring that all you want to do is look into its soothing, luminous screen and cling to it as Gollum did with his “Precious” in The Lord of the Rings.

Unsurprisingly, an increasing number of individuals are concerned about their phones’ voracious draw on them, as well as the amount of time and attention they devote to them in return. When I discussed what cellphones are doing to our thoughts with professor Cal Newport on my podcast, the topic appeared to connect with a lot of you. I received a stack of messages from readers expressing their dissatisfaction with their smartphone use and how it has harmed their relationships and prevented them from completing productive and meaningful work as well as being completely present in their life.

Many of you also asked to know the names of the applications I mentioned on the podcast that I’ve found useful in controlling my smartphone use. I’ll share those applications with you today, as well as a more comprehensive advice to overcoming the smartphone habit. While installing access restrictions on your phone may be beneficial, having a healthy relationship with your phone requires a more comprehensive and conscious approach.

I’ve put up a game plan with all of the tools and tactics you may want to use in order to break your smartphone habit. Because I couldn’t find a similar resource online, I’ve created this post rather comprehensive, with concepts that can be used regardless of your personal circumstances, how you want/need to use your smartphone for business and pleasure, or whatever phone you use.

I’ve 1) created a flow chart and 2) provided a summary of what I’ve done in my own life to drastically reduce the amount of time I spend on my smartphone to help you sort through it all and figure out which approach might work best for you; hopefully, it will give you a better understanding of how these apps and techniques can be implemented.

Let’s begin by discussing why you would want to restrict your smartphone use in the first place.

Chronic Smartphone Use Has Negative Consequences

Checking and twiddling with one’s smartphone has become a habit bordering on addiction for many people. Many people dismiss smartphones as a harmless diversion from boredom, and they may surely be beneficial in our life as a source of pleasure as well as an almost vital instrument for work and communication in the current world.

However, research reveals that excessive smartphone usage may have a negative impact on a variety of elements of our lives:


Loss of empathy and social connection. Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor, claims in her book Reclaiming Conversation that communication mediated via smartphone displays makes people less empathic. While texting is handy, we lose the inflections, tone, and facial expressions that are so important in forming bonds with individuals and comprehending them. (Listen to my audio conversation with her for for more information on this subject.)

Even having a smartphone in our line of sight leads us to pay less attention to the people we’re with and make our interactions more shallow; because we know we’ll be interrupted, we don’t see the sense in attempting to connect with someone on a deeper level.

While there are many reasons that contribute to the rising feeling of loneliness in Western culture, increased smartphone usage is undoubtedly one of them.

Sleep deprivation According to polls, 44 percent of individuals aged 18 to 24 fall asleep holding their smartphone, and a quarter admit, “I don’t sleep as well as I used to because I am always linked to technology.” Smartphone usage may disrupt sleep because its blue light disrupts your circadian rhythm and its pings can wake you up after you’ve fallen asleep; 4 out of 10 adults and teens admit to checking their phone in the middle of the night after receiving a notice. If you’re worried about how someone may reply to your text, you could find it difficult to put the phone down and fall asleep in the first place.

The capacity to undertake deep, meaningful work is harmed due to a lack of attention. Despite the fact that one of the primary selling points of cellphones was their capacity to help us get work done on the move, they are now one of the most significant productivity barriers.

Cal Newport argues in Deep Work that cellphones and other digital gadgets are conditioning our brains to be continually distracted. The pings and buzzes of smartphone alerts train us to maintain a state of split attention, preventing us from fully immersing ourselves in a task for fear of missing anything on our phones.

Even when chronic smartphone and computer users turn everything off so they can concentrate on a single job, the practice of working with split attention is so established in their brains that they still have trouble focusing, according to Newport. To put it another way, our capacity to think and work profoundly is harmed by cellphones.

The capacity to be truly present in your life has been lost. First thing in the morning, more individuals grab for their smartphone than for their significant other. People spend an average of 8 hours each day on their computers and cellphones, with 81 percent saying they always have their phone on. Over half of Millennials claim they “constantly” check and use their phones.

You’re not looking at anything else in your surroundings when you gaze down at your phone’s screen. You’re not paying attention to your children, the gorgeous countryside on a vacation, or the buddy sitting across from you. You aren’t in the room. What are you losing out on by handing your phone hours of your life, day after day?


How to Get Rid of Your Smartphone Addiction

Break your smartphone habit illustration.

To see a bigger version of this photograph, please click here. David B. Dial’s flowchart

Are you weary of continuously checking your phone and not being able to fully participate in discussions with your friends? Do you feel bad about how often your kids find you gazing at a device instead of connecting with them? Are you tired of lamenting your lack of concentration and productivity at work, as well as how little progress you’re making toward your objectives?

While the bad news is that long-term smartphone usage may harm your life, the good news is that research shows that the restless, distraction-inducing itch that smartphones cause can be reversed. It just takes a little effort and discipline to break your habit. This is how you do it:

Examine how you use your cellphone.

The first step in breaking the smartphone habit is to keep track of how much time you spend on it throughout the day. By seeing how you use it, you’ll be able to make more deliberate and thoughtful choices about the kind of connection you want to have with your phone.

Even seeing real data on how much time you spend on your phone might have an impact on your use. When I realized I was checking my phone 100 times a day, I immediately began checking it less.

Auditing your smartphone use is simple thanks to a few applications available. Because of the openness of the Android platform, it offers more sophisticated monitoring applications than the iPhone. As a result, the majority of the applications I mention are for Android (this will be a re-occurring theme). Many of them can not only monitor but also manage your smartphone time, which will come in helpful when “dumbifying” your phone, as we’ll explore below.

Apps for iPhone and Android are available for auditing.

Checky. This software tracks how often you check your phone during the day and enables you to compare numbers from day to day. While it doesn’t display how much time you spend in each app on your phone, just counting how many times you pick up your phone and swipe the unlock screen might give you some much-needed perspective.

Apps for auditing are only available for Android.

RescueTime. RescueTime is a subscription program that lets you measure how much time you spend on various websites and applications on your computer and smartphone. Simply register with RescueTime, download the app on your smartphone, and the program will do the rest.

RescueTime will send you an email report at the end of each week that breaks down how much time you spend in each app on your smartphone.

QualityTime. Another Android app, QualityTime, checks app use and provides extensive breakdowns of how much time you spend on each. You may set time limitations for each app, and QualityTime will notify you when you’re approaching your limit. You can even put a stop to specific time-sucking applications.


Only the iPhone version of the auditing app is available.

Moment. While Moment does not show you how much time you spend on your iPhone in each app, it does give you a general idea of how much time you spend on your phone each day. Moment enables you to set time limitations for how long you may use your iPhone, and if you hit that limit, the app will prevent you from using it.

Choose a tracking app and stick with it for a week. Use your smartphone as normal (though this is difficult since once you start monitoring a certain behavior, it generally changes). By the end of the week, you should have a good notion of how often and in what ways you use your smartphone.

Getting a “Dumbphone” or Going Nuclear

Alright. It’s been a week, and you have a fair sense of how much and what applications you use on your smartphone. Perhaps the findings of your smartphone audit have shocked you so much that you’ve decided the best course of action is to ditch your smartphone entirely and downgrade to a primitive “dumbphone” that just enables you to make calls and send text messages.

If you go down that road, you’ll be in good company. In recent years, there has been a growing “dumbphone movement,” in which people choose to opt out of the hyper-connected world by utilizing mobile phones that resemble the one you had in 2001. These retronauts avoid the temptation to continuously check their phones by removing the ability to access applications.

Ironically, many of the Silicon Valley engineers and executives who create addictive smartphone applications also identify as part of the dumbphone movement. They’re better equipped to concentrate on the task of making you less focused by using the dumbphone. They’re like junk food executives who aim to get you addicted to Doritos but follow a paleo diet!

Dumbphones have additional advantages than preserving your attention span. To begin with, the gadgets are substantially less expensive than their high-powered smartphone equivalents, and data subscriptions are just a few dollars per month. Dumbphones also remove the incentive to keep upgrading your smartphone to the newest and best. You don’t need a phone with a built-in heart rate monitor or a screen that scrolls automatically as you read if all you want to do is make calls and send text messages.

Dumbphones are also safer and more private than smartphones. Many high-ranking executives prefer the dumbphone because it provides a lower security risk if it is misplaced or stolen. Consider how much critical information you maintain on your phone: bank account information in banking applications, emails, saved passwords, and so on. If a malicious individual got their hands on your phone, they could do a lot of harm. And, if you’re worried about companies or the government following your every step across the world, dumbphones aren’t for you.


If you think converting to a dumbphone is the best choice for you, here are several to consider:

  • Jitterbug Samsung
  • Nokia 106 is a smartphone manufactured by Nokia.
  • Blu Tank II is the sequel to Blu Tank.
  • PhoneEasy Doro Doro Doro Doro Doro Doro Doro Doro (according to rumors that Cal Newport has heard, this is a popular phone with business executives)
  • Emporia Essence Plus (designed for elders, with a large SOS button on the back in case you fall and are unable to get up)

Listen to our digital minimalism podcast with Cal Newport:


Duplicating Your Smartphone

You’ve determined that having a dumbphone isn’t going to be a practical choice for you after carefully contemplating quitting your smartphone. Perhaps your job demands you to check email and utilize other applications on your phone. Perhaps you like taking high-quality photos of your children using your phone’s built-in camera.

It’s totally understandable.

The dilemma then becomes: how can you take use of all of your smartphone’s features without succumbing to the smartphone-checking habit?

The solution is to dumb down your smartphone. I’ll teach you how to do it in a few different ways below.

Change the Settings on Your Smartphone to Make It Dumber

The first method for making your smartphone dumber is to change the settings so that it behaves more like a dumbphone. This may be accomplished by turning off alerts, cellular data, and wifi.

Disable notifications. Turning off notifications is the simplest way to rapidly lessen the desire to check your smartphone.

The pings, buzzes, and flashing lights that go out time you receive a new email or someone comments on your Instagram photo are one of the things that make these gadgets so attractive to check. They’re like Pavlovian bells, conditioning you to pick up your phone as soon as the small light begins to flash. You may find yourself continuously staring at your phone in anticipation of incoming alerts as a result of the training. When you’re checking your phone every ten seconds, it’s difficult to be present and focused on the activity at hand.

By turning off alerts, you may put a stop to this electronic drooling. You have the option to toggle notifications on or off in any app on your phone. Turning on notifications is preferred by app developers since it implies you’ll check their app more often. As a result, many applications are set up to automatically enroll you in notifications and require you to opt out explicitly.

Turn off the alerts on all of your necessary but annoying smartphone applications. Email and messaging applications are examples of this. You’ll be surprised at how much just one little tweak reduces the number of times you check your smartphone. There’s no need to check your phone if you don’t hear a buzz or see a flashing light. Instead, you’ll check it when you make a deliberate decision to do so.

Wi-Fi and cellular data should be turned off. Let’s say you’ve turned off notifications but still want to check your email or use other applications on your phone. You may adjust your smartphone’s settings to make it temporarily stupid for a defined amount of time. It’s as simple as turning off your cellular data and wifi.


You’ll still be able to make calls and send rudimentary text messages if you disable these services. You won’t be able to check your email, check Instagram or Snapchat, send or receive photos through text messaging, or do any of the other activities that keep you distracted on your smartphone.

On both iPhone and Android, turning off wifi is simple. It’s a bit more difficult to switch off cellular data, so use the links below for information on how to do so on both operating systems:

How to switch off cellular data on your iPhone instructions

On Android, here’s how to switch off cellular data.

The disadvantage of this strategy is that it is very simple to defeat. Simply switch your phone data and wifi back on if you really want to check your email or Instagram feed. However, for many individuals, merely introducing this tiny delay reduces the urge to constantly check their phone. Humans are slackers. Knowing you’ll have to fiddle with your phone’s settings to get your smartphone fix will make you less inclined to do so.

This is a fantastic strategy to use during study or “serious work” hours, or simply when you want to designate particular times as “no smartphone time,” such as after you return home from work or during a Tech Sabbath.

You may speed up the dumbification of your Android phone by using the Automate app to set up a procedure that turns off mobile and wifi connectivity at certain hours or when you get home from work. There isn’t anything like this for iPhone users.

Willn’t it irritate people if I don’t respond to them right away?

If you’re a hardcore smartphone user, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “But I need to know as soon as I receive an email or text.” I need to get back to you straight now.”

However, the most of this is nonsense. While we have been conditioned to believe that all dispatches are urgent due to the immediacy of digital communication, the great majority are not.

Even in business, most email may wait an hour or two before requiring a response (in fact, most email does not need a response for a full day – if ever!). If it’s genuinely urgent and vital, or if it’s a true emergency, the individual may just phone you.

Personal text texting is the same way. I understand that you should answer to texts straight away or within a few minutes, but most text messages aren’t urgent or crucial in my experience. It’s mostly idle chit-chat — exchanging good news, booking a weekend meal, or sending amusing photos or links. It’s also difficult to quit once you start replying. Throughout the day, it keeps you in a condition of perpetual split attention.


That is not something you should do to your head. Turn off SMS notifications and only check your phone at certain times, not because you’ve been conditioned to do so by a ping. To the degree possible, you should exert control over your attention rather than allowing others to do so.

I understand that being less responsive may seem unpleasant to others, but if you want to live a more focused and less distracted life, you must be more difficult to reach.

Some executives and entrepreneurs who only check their email or phone at certain hours have an auto-response that informs the sender of their policy. However, I always think that announcing your phone-free status comes off as arrogant and unneeded. In the first instance, expecting a rapid reaction is unreasonable, and there’s no need to explain yourself.

While your coworkers and friends may be annoyed that you take so long to answer to messages and emails at first, they’ll ultimately gain a sense of your new phone checking rhythms and habits and adapt their expectations appropriately.

Remove Certain Apps from Your Smartphone to Make It Look Older

Another way to dumb down your smartphone while preserving the advantages is to delete applications that 1) don’t add value to your life and 2) promote distracted thinking.

If you sit down and honestly analyze each app on your smartphone, you’ll probably find that only around 20% of them provide value to your life while remaining distraction-free, while the other 80% are highly habit-forming and, at most, slightly enjoyable. Seriously. How has checking Instagram every ten minutes or completing another Candy Crush level improved your life? It most likely hasn’t, and you should get rid of them if you want to be more focused and present. That’s exactly what we’ll do right now.

Examine each and every app on your screen. Ask yourself 1) “Does this app considerably enhance my life (or is work essential)?” while your eyes linger on each one. 2) “Does this app interfere with serious thinking?”

If you answered “no” to the first question but “yes” to the second, remove the app right away. This category often includes games and social networking applications like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Keep the app if you answered “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second. Banking applications, Google Maps, and e-readers like the Kindle may all fit under this group. They may improve your life, but you won’t be compelled to check them as often as you would Twitter or Instagram.

When your replies are “yes” and “yes,” it becomes more difficult. These applications may be necessary for your job, but they’re also a continual source of temptation. Email, text messaging, and maybe a few social networking applications come under this category. With these applications, how do we control our attention?


That’ll be our next stop.

Apps to Manage Your Smartphone Use – Fight Technology with Technology

So you’ve whittled down your app collection to the bare minimum. Even after you’ve done that, you’ll be tempted to check these work or life critical applications again to satisfy a mental itch.

Take, for example, email. Sure, your work may need you to check and respond to email on your phone, but do you have to do it constantly? Most likely not. You can probably wait till you get to your PC to respond to most emails you get since they aren’t crucial or even urgent. However, it’s difficult not to check your email. There’s always the hope that the next email you get will contain life-changing information.

Perhaps you use Instagram for work or to stay in touch with your family. I understand. That is why I have Instagram installed on my smartphone. You don’t have to go through it every 30 minutes, however. If your Instagram feed is anything like mine, you’ll see men deadlifting, dudes shooting firearms, dudes showing off their amazing outfit of the day, some lovely nature photos, and, of course, artistic-looking motivational slogans every time you check. Basically, if I don’t check, I’m not losing out on anything. However, because of the way Instagram is set up, the endless scroll makes it impossible not to check it out. There’s always the chance that with just one more scroll, you’ll come across a very interesting or fascinating image — something your brain is afraid of missing out on.

If you can’t or don’t want to get rid of these distracting and habit-forming applications, you may regulate your temptation to check them all the time by utilizing technology to combat technology. To restrict how much and when we can use our most distracting and habit-forming applications, we’ll employ blocking/time management apps.

First and foremost, a word regarding these apps: the most of them are Android-based. Unfortunately, due to Apple’s strict app requirements, developers are unable to create applications that enable consumers to prohibit particular apps on their iPhones. I’ve only seen one iPhone app that allows you to restrict applications or websites. If you jailbroke your phone and know how to program, I’m sure you could make some very cool applications that let you block stuff. However, since most people aren’t aware of how to do so, they’ll have to rely on one of the other techniques listed above to keep track of their smartphone use.

Both Android and iPhone users may use this app to manage their apps.

Freedom. Freedom is a subscription-based service that operates on all devices. Simply install the app on the devices you’d want to manage your use on, tell Freedom which applications and websites you’d like to restrict, and voila! There will be no more distractions. When you start a Freedom session, all of your distracting applications and websites will be banned, regardless of whether you’re on your iPhone, MacBook, Android, or Windows laptop.


Freedom enables you to plan ahead for distraction-free sessions, so you might set up a Pomodoro schedule for yourself throughout the day, with 45-minute distraction-free periods and 15-minute break sessions.

Because the service is new, there are a few issues, but I’ve played with it and found it to be rather reliable.

If you have an iPhone, this is the only program I’ve discovered that allows you to stop certain applications from running on your device.

App-Management Apps (Only for Android)



My Personal Configuration

I use RescueTime to track my desktop and smartphone use, and I check it once a week to see how much time I spend on each.

By initially removing non-essential and extremely addicting applications from my phone, I’ve dumbed down my smartphone. I don’t have any games, nor do I have accounts on Twitter or Facebook. I also don’t have any news applications on my phone, such as Flipboard. I used to have them, but I thought I was wasting too much time on them and that they weren’t providing enough return on investment.

Because my company is primarily reliant on email and chat, I have Gmail and Google Hangouts installed on my phone so that I can handle urgent and critical matters even when I’m not at my computer. I also kept Instagram on my phone since it’s the only way I can post images to the Art of Manliness Instagram account. (Advertisement: follow us on Instagram!)

While these applications are necessary for work, they are also very distracting and habit developing. So, to control when and how much I may access them, I utilize two applications.

I use FocusOn to set aside periods when I won’t be able to utilize my most distracting applications. I’ve set aside time on weekday mornings from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. to be completely present for things like scripture reading, journal writing, working out, and spending time with my kids. Gmail, Instagram, and my Chrome browser are all blocked on Sundays so that I may enjoy my weekly Tech Sabbath.

I don’t want to be addicted to my phone even during non-blocked times, so I use Stay Focused to restrict how much time I spend on these applications while they’re accessible. For each app, I’ve set up 30 minutes every day. Thirty minutes is just enough time to update your Instagram profile, do some mindless scrolling, and check your email. I’m done using those applications for the day once my timer runs out.

My smartphone setup is synced with my MacBook setup, ensuring that while I’m working on my laptop, I remain focused on the most vital tasks and train my mind for deep, concentrated thought. When I’m not constantly checking my gadgets, I’m shocked at how much more I can do.

I hope that this article will assist you in gaining control of your smartphone habit so that you can maximize its advantages while minimizing its negatives. If you want to be a more productive, hardworking, and successful guy, try these applications and strategies.


Become the ruler of your technology rather than a slave to it!



“How to break phone addiction adhd” is a blog post that talks about how to break the smartphone addiction. The post has some tips on how to stop your smartphone from being such an important part of your life. Reference: how to break phone addiction adhd.

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