A few years back, I stumbled upon a game-changing book called ‘Digital Minimalism’ by Cal Newport. This eye-opening read shed light on the dangers of technology, particularly social media. As a result, I started a journey to find practical ways to curb my addiction to almost all those “non-essential” apps on my phone. The road was bumpy, with some strategies yielding better results than others. While I’m still not where I want to be, I do feel I have better control over my phone use. If you’re struggling with a phone addiction (maybe it’s preventing you from studying for the BOC exam!), here are three things you can try:
Say Goodbye to Unnecessary Apps
My initial strategy involved a clean sweep of my phone. I got rid of anything that didn’t serve as a utility or source of information. Useful apps like my banking and to-do list apps stayed, while YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, Facebook, etc. were blocked via a time-scheduled app blocker (authenticators and work prevent me from removing them entirely). Two things worked in my favor:
a. Removing the apps meant they didn’t constantly tempt me every time I unlocked my phone.
b. Needing to go through the steps to gain access to the app by going through the app blocker (I use Opal).
Set App Time Limits
A relatively straightforward tactic I tried was imposing time restrictions on my apps. I lumped all my “time-wasting” apps together and set a daily limit of 30 minutes using Apple’s Screen Time feature. Here’s the catch: Screen Time offers a “15 more minutes” option once your time is up, and I abused that button incessantly. This method might work better if you possess more self-control or have someone hold you accountable.
Get Rid of Them Altogether
This isn’t for everyone, but some people go to the extreme and simply delete their accounts altogether. I didn’t do this since I still need most social media for work reasons, but if you are truly wanting to break away, there is nothing stopping you.
What I learned from these experiments is this: the harder it is to do something, the less likely we are to do it. My phone’s constant accessibility made it easy to get lost in it, but the methods I tested all introduced barriers of varying sizes. Some were small, like deleting apps, while others were substantial, like losing access to my accounts.
My advice to you is to embrace this fundamental idea and adapt it to your own experiments. Everyone is unique, and what worked for me might have different effects for you. So, take these strategies as a starting point and tailor them to suit your quest for digital balance.