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How to Use Your Phone Less, According to Reddit

Photo: Rob Hampson (Unsplash)

If you’re looking to cut down on how much you use your phone, redditor mukalodric has some suggestions. A thread on the subreddit r/getdisciplined (a group “for people who have issues with procrastination, motivation, and discipline”) called “How I’ve Cut Down On Mindless Phone Usage” provides tips from the original poster as well as other members. Here are some of our favorite strategies:

Track your time

According to mukalodric, the first step to using your phone less is understanding how much you’re actually on it. “Seriously, if you do one thing, do that. Because once you find out you spend 6+ hours a day on your phone, it will be a sobering experience. If the stat comes to mind just once a day, you will use your phone less. There’s Screen Time (iOS) and Digital Wellbeing (Android) for this,” mukalodric says.

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Make your phone less addictive

Instead of relying on your own willpower, mukalodric suggests restructuring your phone to make it less enticing. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • “Delete apps you don’t need. Think hard about this because you might try to fool yourself.
  • Put remaining time-wasting apps in one folder and give it a name like Time Sink.
  • Put that folder in the second page of your home screen. Put the apps in the second page of the folder itself.
  • Receive fewer notifications. Maybe keep them for emails. Disable them for Instagram, YouTube, etc.
  • Use grayscale. On iOS, there’s an accessibility shortcut that lets you switch back with three taps.
  • Use a simpler wallpaper that’s not bursting with colors. Something inspirational or just a solid color.
  • Tweak your home screen setup every month or so to mess with your muscle memory.
  • Delete certain apps and instead use their clunky mobile website counterparts.”

Make your phone less accessible

Along the same lines, realisticwanderlust suggested making the phone itself harder to reach by put it in the glove box of your car, or charging it exclusively in a place where you can’t sit down to use it.

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Designate certain activities as being “screen-free”

Another tip from mukalodric: “Hand-pick certain daily activities or places you go to and simply don’t use your phone there. You can stop using your phone: in the bathroom, at the gym, in your car, in class, while eating, while walking, or in the morning before showering. The last one is very important, or at least it has been for me. Please please don’t start your morning reacting to people or the news, because it will set a negative tone for the rest of the day.”

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Do something else with your time

So, you’ve freed up some time now that you’re not glued to your phone. That’s great, but it’ll be really tempting to pick it right back up if you don’t have something else to do, mukalodric says: “Use that time to get better sleep, work on some hobby, study, or talk to family/friends. Generally, if you’re bored enough you’ll find something to do eventually. So don’t worry too much, but at least have a vague idea of what you’ll do with all the extra hours in the week you start to gain. If you don’t know what to replace the phone with, it will be tough.”

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Use something else as an alarm or watch (like an alarm or watch)

As redditor -screamin- points out, it can be really hard to use your phone less if you rely on it to be your watch and alarm clock. Luckily, there’s a pretty easy solution to this: “I’ve started using my watch which has a timer and alarm. Boom, I am more likely to set the alarms and timers I need, without so much as unlocking my phone. Also having anti-boredom stuff at hand to stymie phone use (e.g. book, journal, knitting, whatever) is a winner. And set an alarm when you start those things so that you know when to switch tasks!”

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You can read more strategies for putting your phone down in the original thread.