It’s morning. I have a long list of tasks I want to accomplish so I’m ready for the week. I’m focused, sitting at the computer, ready to go when…. my phone goes beep.
Do I ignore it and keep writing? Of course not!
I grab my phone. 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.
But then I see I received a few news notifications. It won’t hurt to check those out, right? And a dear friend tagged me on Instagram. Maybe I should see what that’s about…
And I slide down that cell phone rabbit hole.
If you’re fed up with your phone being a time-sucking distraction, I’m right there with you. I want to stop being addicted to my cell phone. I dream of what I could accomplish if I could only just put it down.
But 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.
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. I complete my legitimate task – the Gateway Habit – and then, the next thing I know, a half hour has gone by as I’ve coasted from one app to another.
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 pull yourself from your scrolling haze and realize you’re late for work.
Here are some of my phone addiction Gateway Habits:
- Checking routine reminders. (Those in the ADHD Success Club 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. I must pick it up. I have to see what’s happening!
- 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.”
- My hands need something to do. My phone has become a way to manage that extra energy. Even though the motion is minor, it helps with the fidgets and hyperactivity.
How I’m Breaking My Phone Addiction
Now don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you go cold turkey and toss your phone in a drawer for weeks. The anxiety that thought creates is overwhelming, am I right?
Instead, I’m going to allow myself scheduled phone time. I think of it like a date with my husband or a client session. I’m going to officially schedule a block of time every day for guilt-free phone love. (This might be divided up with 30min in the morning and another 30 at the end of the day with the goal of reducing this time every week.)
And to help me outside those blocks, here are the new habits I’m building up to help with my impulse triggers:
- When I get an idea, I use a ‘Hey Siri’ to make a hands-free note in my phone.
- I will follow the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ philosophy and turn my phone on silent mode and turn it screen down and put it under some papers when I’m working.
- I will remember hobbies and activities that were fun before I picked up that tiny bit of technology. Maybe get into knitting, or painting, listen to music. Maybe even get a hands-free device like Alexa or Google Home so I can simply use my voice to tell it to put on my podcast or what to do.
- I will get a fidget tool for when my hands feel empty.
So tell me below! What are your Gateway Habits, Impulse Triggers and new habits you will create to reduce your cell phone addiction?