Free of the evil master...I mean iPhone
November 12, 2016 9:03 PM   Subscribe

My smart phone broke and it's been...awesome! How can I continue to cut my smart phone addiction after my phone is repaired?

I didn't realize what a smart phone addict I was until it broke, and it could not have happened at a better time (post election!) I didn't realize how much I had been checking my phone, reading the news, checking e-mails, checking Facebook - but based on how much I notice it now without a working phone, I probably checked it every...5 minutes or so? It's a problem.

The phone will be repaired and replaced soon, but I'd like to keep my usage down. Unfortunately, people have to be able to reach me in case of an emergency, so I can't just turn it off. And I have to be able to use it still to check work email when on the road etc. etc. Also, my friends do periodically text me to see if I'm free in 5 minutes to grab coffee - and I don't want to miss those!

Does anyone have personal tips, articles to read or useful apps that keep you from checking the phone regularly - while not cutting off important access?
posted by Toddles to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There are quite a few apps that will track your phone and app usage and also enable blocking certain or all apps when you need quiet time. I've been experimenting with a few, and so far Breakfree is my favourite - it shames me if use my phone too much, which is highly effective (on me), and it calculates an "addiction score" which is a motivating little number to try to keep low.
posted by mossicle at 9:15 PM on November 12, 2016

This is one of the use cases for the Apple Watch.

I recently bought one after my GP recommended getting a wearable to monitor health and activity. I opted for the Apple Watch over other alternatives as it also offered added benefits within the Apple ecosystem.

While I'm not really addicted to checking my phone, I have found that the Watch has reduced it even more by handling the notifications I want to get and ignoring the ones I don't. Family texts and calls come right through. Other's I don't need to see sit on the phone until I have other reasons to check. WhatsApp from friends, straight through. Other's not. Etc...

Basically, it did reduce my phone usage even though that wasn't why I made the purchase in the first place.
posted by michswiss at 9:15 PM on November 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you're on a GSM network, you can take your SIM card out and put it in a cheap non-smart burner phone. Sometimes I do this when I'm out on hikes and such and want to be available for emergencies, but not have distractions.

I also got Facebook and Twitter off my phone, that helps a lot.
posted by miyabo at 9:19 PM on November 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding the smart watch recommendation. I have an android one. I have it set to let through texts or calls from my contacts between 10am and 10pm, texts or calls from my husband at any time, and emails on weekdays between 10am and 5pm. Otherwise no notifications. I can see the weather forecast and my next calendar appointment on my watch face, so i don't need to use my phone for that either. I pick up my actual phone only about three times a day now.
posted by lollusc at 9:26 PM on November 12, 2016

Limit the phone to a few social channels---voice, texts, maybe email for example---and disable access to notifications for all other apps, especially social ones. Take em off your home screen so you're not impelled to look at them constantly.

Use privacy features or IFTTT scripts to change the phone's mode to ring only after work hours, and silent during sleep time.

A dumb "feature" phone is a bit more extreme option, but works well too. On the upside, their battery life is frequently measured in days rather than hours.
posted by bonehead at 9:28 PM on November 12, 2016

I also have limited social media apps on my phone! And opt out of the notifications!

Then, I mute most contacts except folks I want to hear from, and usually mute them, too.

Lastly. I have a bunch of places within an hour or hour and a half from my home where I camp overnight AND there is little or no cell service in the campsites. I live in LA. This is doable. I have a storage box with EVERYTHING I need for overnight camping so I am ALWAYS ready to go in about 45 min as long as I charge the pump for the inflatable bed. I just go out of town for a few hours when I need to disconnect and look at the stars all night. I use those all cardboard wine box inserts for kindling, I have a milk crate in my parking space w/ a cord of wood + sticks so I can get the campfire started. I pull a bunch of food from my pantry and freezer, and I'm out in the wild in no time. I have a catering stove in a suitcase in the storage bin + light cookware. Lots of foil for campfire grilling. I have disconnecting down to a fucking science. I can and do roll out on a dime with no hassle because I pre-plan and keep the camping box replenished.

To sum up: I view my phone as an electronic leash and shut it down as often as possible. You can leave it home sometimes, too. Do that.
posted by jbenben at 10:28 PM on November 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

I do not have my email linked to my phone app for that. I log in via my browser when I choose to.
posted by jbenben at 10:29 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have to physically place my phone somewhere sort of hard to access, like in my car or in a box out of sight. Taking away the temptation works way better than letting myself face it head-on.

I set an intent to not use it for a certain period of time on a regular basis, which is a good way to re-set. I have it set to mute almost all of the rest of the time--that way you don't continue that Pavlovian response to the buzzing and dinging, and you check it on your own schedule. I don't have it get any notifications except calls and texts. Sometimes I go camping and set it to "Don't disturb," and I might try that out a little more often.

There are apps that will limit its access to the internet at certain times; and I think you can also do that via your home wireless router (?). The app I use on my laptop is Freedom, and they don't have a version for Android yet, but there appears to be one for iPhone. You can tell it to blacklist and whitelist certain apps and websites at different times, or you can have it close off all internet access. It's really nice.

Even with all that, I don't feel like I've figured out a good answer to this question. My phone broke after the election, too, and I hate knowing that when I have it back I'm probably going to be glued to it again.
posted by ramenopres at 7:45 AM on November 13, 2016

Because I have limited data to use, I turn off the cell data from the Settings menu, and my wireless only connects at home. So I can get calls and texts so I'm not out of reach if someone needs me, but I can't load anything or get any push notifications unless I go find some wifi. I can always turn the data back on if I urgently need directions or a Lyft or something-- it's just a quick extra step. You can also turn off wifi connection from Settings, which will still let you get calls and texts but nothing else, if you want to still be unconnected at home. I use it for podcasts, and I download those when I'm on wifi in the evening, then spend the day without connectivity.

I find that a lack of notifications and keeping the phone out of sight in my bag, work locker, or in the other room helps a lot with keeping me from checking it all the time. Also, plan to bring a book or something to do with your hands when you're commuting or waiting in line, etc to keep you from checking your phone out of boredom.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:34 AM on November 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

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