Its Sunday morning. The time I write the first draft of ADHD Success. I’m arranging my thoughts about how I want to stop being addicted to my phone. Google docs is open. I’m writing and focused, when…. my phone goes breeh.
Do I ignore it and keep writing? Of course not!
I jump up and run to the kitchen where my phone is charging. I have to see who texted me. I have a severe case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Turns out it was my Adored Brother sharing a bit of trivia. Fun stuff, but not worth getting distracted over.
If you’re fed up with your phone being a time-sucking distraction I’m right there with you. As I told you in last week’s ADHD Success, I want to stop being addicted to my cell phone, too.
That’s why since I wrote last week’s ADHD Success Blog, Is Cell Phone Addiction Real, I’ve been paying attention to what ignites my cell phone addiction.
I noticed being addicted to my cell phone isn’t straight-forward. There are actually a couple of things going on. What we’ll call Gateway Habits and Impulse Triggers.
Keeping these ideas in mind as I use my phone has given me more control over my phone addiction. Sure, I still feel the urge to check the phone but now I’ve paired that urge with awareness.
Awareness of our actions is a key step to managing ADHD.
Let’s dig deeper.
My Discovery About Being Addicted To My Phone
I’ve noticed my mindless phone checking habit kicks in AFTER I use the phone for something useful. The Gateway Habit. So, I’ve completed my legitimate task and next thing I know I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. I’m addicted to my phone.
A popular Gateway Habit for me and many of my clients is using the phone as our alarm clock.
It goes something like this:
Your phone alarm wakes you up. You grab your phone to stop the noise. There you are with your phone in your hand. This is where the Gateway Habit kicks in. Soon you’re scrolling through the alerts and texts that came in during the night. One thing leads to another. Twenty minutes later you awaken from your scrolling haze and realize you’re late for work.
Here are some of my phone addiction Gateway Habits:
- Checking routine reminders. (My ADHD coaching clients know how I adore my routine reminders)
- Scanning email as I make the morning coffee
- The alarm clock
- Watching one show on Netflix which somehow leads to binging on the next and the next.
What are your Gateway Habits? Think them through. Being aware of them is the first step.
My Impulse Triggers come in many flavors that suck me right into my phone addiction.
- I get an idea. I want to know something or tell someone something. I immediately stop whatever I’m doing and dive right into my phone. But once I pick up the phone I’m pulled off task and next thing you know I’ve fallen down the cell phone rabbit hole. This is huge for ADHD peeps. We get more ideas and think more thoughts than most other humans.
- I hear an alert. Especially texts. I adore my family and friends. We text often. That text buzz is like someone I love standing out in front of the house yelling, “Dana, come out and play”. I usually keep my phone muted, but I can still hear it buzz. And, that buzz triggers my impulse to check the phone.
- I see a notification flash on the screen. It pulls me in. This Impulse Trigger is easier for me to control. I’m building the habit of keeping my phone turned over so I can’t see things flash on the screen.
- I’m kind of bored. The phone is SO EASY to grab. This is where I really notice how addicted I am to my phone, and my emotional draw to check it. Sometimes just seeing my phone sitting there is the Trigger. I hear it sing, “Pick me up, Dana. Pick me up.”
How I’m Breaking My Phone Addiction
I noticed something else in my week of observing my relationship with my phone. It is an amazing ADHD support tool. I knew that when I first got it, but over the years I’ve added more apps and more distraction opportunities.
I need my useful ADHD management tool. Routine reminders keep me on track. Podcasts keep me motivated and interested. Alarms keep me on time. I need the timer, the calendar, email, and meditation app. Texting simplifies communication. My phone isn’t a want. It’s a need.
My phone isn’t my enemy. I’m just not using it wisely. Somehow along the way my phone turned into a distracting plaything instead of a tool.
I intend to live deliberately. To channel my inner Thoreau. In the ADHD Success Club, we work a lot on noticing and pausing before impulsively launching into an activity. With my new awareness of how my Gateway Habits and Impulse Triggers, I’m taking this approach with my phone.
I get a distracted enough on my own without my cell phone’s help. I don’t like feeling addicted to my cell phone. What about you?