Spending too much time on your phone? Here’s what to do

Does this sound familiar:

The kids are finally in bed and the kitchen is relatively clean. You sit on the couch with your phone in your hand. Before you know it, it’s midnight and you’ve just spent 2h scrolling. You aren’t proud of how much time you spent on it. In fact, there’s a pretty loud voice telling you you could have done XYZ instead and you didn’t. You go to bed exhausted, frustrated, and stressed out thinking about the next day.

Life is unthinkable without a smartphone (I’m dreading the day my girls ask me for one, but we’re not there yet!). It is simply essential. So essential, that it can become a real addiction, like in the scenario described above.

I, like many of us, suffer from it too. My smartphone is where I find the next pair of shoes for my daughter and how I schedule my kid’s activities. It’s also where I find recipes and the way I reach out to friends and family that live far away.

No stop in sight

Being on social media, online shopping or simply mindlessly scrolling is comforting to say the least. In fact, it might be the only time in the day where it feels like you are doing something for yourself, and that can feel very rewarding. As noted by experts, dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel happy is released when we are on our phones. Why is it a bad thing if it makes us feel good?

It’s really only bad if you a) use it as a coping mechanism to deal with stress and other negative emotions. Much like food, it’s a way to numb yourself because you don’t want to face reality; b) you are uncontrollably drawn to it and it feels like you can’t not reach out for it at any given moment or c) you realise minutes or even hours later that you’ve spent a significant amount of time on it; it is taking time away from other more meaningful things.

Which of the above might be true for you? I plead guilty to all of them.

Why I wanted to address my smartphone addiction

One of the main reasons for me is that I hate what it does to me as a mother. Despite having done a lot of work on this, I still find myself being hooked to my screen for minutes on end while my 2 year old is seeking my attention by my side. I snap out of it after a few seconds and ever time I am amazed by how powerful that pull is.

In addition, social media makes me compare myself to others on all levels: as a woman in my late thirties (not being stylish enough…), as a mum (not being good enough…), as an entrepreneur (not being successful enough…). I kept doubting the content of my posts, my commitment to my children, my entertainment abilities, my creativity, you name it you have it. Comparison is the thief of joy and does not serve me. I used to complain about not having time to do things, but spent a whooping 1h30 a day on my smartphone. No time? Ha! There was plenty of time. I was just not spending it wisely.

I am slowly finding a balance between a reasonable time spent doing things that I truly enjoy or find useful, and expecting my phone to fill a void or fulfill a need. You can also start addressing your own relationship to your phone. Here are some suggestions:

Define your investment in the relationship

1. Challenge your Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). How big of a deal is it if you don’t see an influencer’s latest post the minute it is out? And is it that important to know what everyone decided to share that day?

2. Rethink your media consumption. How much information, stimuli and new ideas are you allowing into your head per day? That is a lot of headspace taken up for no reason.

3. Install a no-phone rule for your yourself in the morning. The way you start the day pretty much determines how you will spend it. Start the day with something that gets you into your body instead of your head. This can have a tremendous impact on your mood and performance.

Use it…smartly

4. Download One Sec. When you open a social media app, it forces you to pause for 10 seconds, forcing you to think twice when opening an app.  Or the app Forest, which lets you set a timer for how long you wish to stay off your phone. If you allow it to run down without giving up, you plant a tree and get virtual coins. If you give up, your tree dies.

5. Use airplane mode. Personally I put my phone in airplane mode at 9 pm every night as it helps me keep away from it. The world can wait until the next morning.

6. This goes without saying, but turn off your notifications. You get to choose when to consume content, not your phone. Do it mindfully and with purpose.

7. If you have company, announce to them what you’re about to do on your phone. Even since I started telling my 2 year old things like ‘I’m just quickly going to check if it’s going to rain tomorrow’, or ‘I’m going to reply to your uncle now’, I don’t find myself opening the weather app, then Whatsapp, then Instagram, then Facebook, then my figure skating forum, etc. I do what I said I would do, and then I drop it.

How (not to) get started

If this post resonates with you and you’re convinced a life with less time spent on your phone is worth it, pick one idea from the list above and start implementing it. You can take it slowly or go cold turkey. What you decide to do, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up the next time you snap out of a smartphone-binging episode. Habits are hard to break. Just like with anything that you decide to do, it’s important to do it for the right reasons and with the right energy. Let that be the energy of love, not anger.

What have you noticed about your smartphone use? Is it something that you have thought of tackling, or not? Let me know in the comments below!

Related posts:

– The relationship talk no one wants to have







Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I'm Annie!

I’m a mum of two and a coach with a mission to help fellow mums prevent burnout, eradicate stress and overwhelm and live their best lives.