How did I stop my smartphone addiction?
Smartphone is an inexplicable piece of technology with its own ‘pros’ and ‘cons’. The onus of using it constructively is on us. Modern technology can be a boon or bane. It’s up to you, how do you utilise it.
When we are unoccupied, we often ‘exhaust’ our time on our smartphone. And I was also the victim of the same. I was using my smartphone for 8-10 hrs a day with most of that time expended on ‘energy and time draining’ social media apps.
What I did?
I realised, things are getting way inordinate. So I did an experiment. I uninstalled the addictive social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat & Messenger and replaced them with their ‘monotonous’ counterparts –
- Reddit, Twitter (for latest news and events)
- Quora, Stack Exchange, Medium & WordPress (for reading and writing)
- Goodreads (for books recommendations)
- LinkedIn (for Job search)
Moreover, I restricted the usage of these apps to certain times of the day. For example:
- Reddit and Twitter in the morning for news related articles
- Quora, Stack Exchange, Medium & WordPress in the afternoon to kill some boredom.
- Goodreads and LinkedIn at the night for pastime and to check any messages from recruiter.
I strictly followed the schedule for a week, after that it became habitual. Also, I disabled the notifications because without the notifications you’re the one in the control to use an app. Otherwise constant notifications, sooner or later will compel you to check your smartphone.
Self-discipline and perseverance help you achieve the most difficult of your goals. Consequently, my smartphone usage reduced drastically to 3-4 hrs a day. Because for me, these apps were not as engaging as Instagram & Facebook and I couldn’t spend hours on them. One more added benefit of this was, I became more productive. The time, I spared from these apps, I started spending it constructively. Some of its consequences are:
- I developed a reading habit because of spending much of my time on Q&A and blogging sites. While, earlier it was difficult for me to read 4 pages of a book, I completed 8 books, related to health, fiction, programming, and science in the past one year.
- Earlier, it was difficult for me to write a short essay, now I wrote 50 new answers and numerous diary pages in the past one year.
- I joined gym and lost 12 kgs.
How to make a start?
It’s difficult to make a start to utilise the time, you spent on smartphone. So I will advise you the same, what I did:
- Halt the never-ending scroll through your ‘infinite’ social media feed – Start uninstalling apps and unfollowing people that make you feel inferior and unmotivated.
- Divert the time that you spent on those noxious apps, in doing some constructive work like reading newspaper, programming, writing diary etc.
- And you can do all these things on your smartphone instead of aimlessly scrolling through social networking apps reading fake news or feeling inferior, watching ‘exotic-holiday’ photos of your long lost school friend or luxurious assets of some Instagram ‘influencer’.
- Start writing diary in your notes. Read newspaper articles. Play games that improve your cognitive skills and memory. There are lots of mind-puzzling games like that.
- Watch some educational lectures or TedX talks. Learn something new like cooking, photography, writing or painting.
- Download media and text editing apps. Start your own photography and writing blog.
- Learn programming and make your own apps. It’s an exciting experience, making one’s own app. And it’ll teach you so much about management, operating a product, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), sponsors etc. So is with a blog.
Smartphone and social media are an addiction.
When we describe addiction, we express it in terms of compulsive behaviour that may lead to a negative outcome. Now, addiction is a slow-poison and takes time to come into effect. But we don’t even realise when we got addicted. Similarly, getting out of an addiction will take time. But you will eventually get out of it, without even realising it.
Best way to resist your cravings, is to redirect them.
You don’t get rid of bad habits, you replace them with good ones. You will feel the urge to check your smartphone for once but realise that nothing substantial is happening on social media. And instead concentrate on reading the next page of the book you just bought.