By Kelli Smith
Do you put your phone on the table next to you at meals? Do you check it every 10 seconds? Do you panic when it runs out of battery, or, gasp, you forget it at home? (Just kidding, you’d never forget it at home.)
If you said yes to all three, there’s a good chance you’re addicted to your phone. Worse, you’re letting it run your life. Think about it: How many times have you been late to dinner because your phone just had to charge? Then, how many dinners have you kinda ruined by checking your notifications throughout the meal?
Before you claim you’re just “really busy” and you need it on you at all times, see how many of these symptoms you recognize in yourself. (And then see all my awesome ideas to help you start relying less on it.)
1. You Sleep With It
You need an alarm clock, obviously. But is that really the reason your phone’s in your bedroom? Or, do you want to “just peek” at Twitter when you’re trying to fall asleep?
If you don’t want to buy an actual alarm clock or put your phone on the other side of the room—that’s OK!—try OFFTIME. It lets you schedule times to turn off your apps. This way you can still get that landed-at-the-airport call from your significant other without ending up on Facebook for the next two hours.
2. You Check it First Thing Each Day
Do you reach for your phone before you even open your eyes in the morning? Do you see news that instantly stresses you out? How about an email from your boss? If that sounds familiar, you may want to re-think how you’re starting your days.
BreakFree is an app that measures how much you use your phone and gently reminds you to keep your screen time under control. And, with BreakFree, you can set times (like when you normally wake-up) to disable the internet so you can start your day on the calmest note possible.
3. You Have it in Your Hand at All Times
If you’re that person who takes their phone with them everywhere they go—yes, your colleagues see you carrying it with you to the bathroom—then you need an incentive to let it go (cue the song from Frozen).
If you have a competitive streak, then you might want to grab a couple of friends and check out the Forest app. It’s somewhat silly, but also slightly addicting. The basic gist is that you nourish a tiny seed Into a magnificent tree by staying off your phone long enough for it to flourish. The more you resist temptation, the faster it grows. Plus, you can track your virtual forest’s progress and see if you’re beating your pals.
4. You’re Constantly Charging It
You swear that you’re only checking email and texts, but you keep running out of juice before noon. Constantly being out of battery is a sure sign that you’re on that thing way too much.
If you find yourself always coming up short on power, Moment will tell you where you’re spending time on your phone so you can cut back as needed. Or, if that’s not enough, you can have it coach you by setting a daily limit for how much you use it.
5. You Get Notifications for All Your Apps
It’s time to be honest with yourself. Do you really have to hear about every post, message, or tweet right now? When you think about it, I bet you’ll realize that most of them (maybe even all?) aren’t exactly urgent.
Luckily, you can get them under control with just a few clicks in your phone’s settings. With either iOS or Android, you can choose which apps you see that dreaded red badge for, and you can even stop notifications for certain apps from showing up on your lock screen.
6. You Imagine it Beeping and Buzzing When It’s Not
You swear you’re not crazy, and yet you keep pulling your phone out of your pocket because you felt something that seemed a lot like a notification.
The iPhone’s Do Not Disturb mode lets you decide which calls ring through or if you want to stop both calls and notifications completely when you really need to focus. And Android Nougat’s Do Not Disturb does all that, plus lets you choose on an app-by-app basis when you get beeped or buzzed.
7. Your Notification Badges Are Always at Zero
Don’t be offended. I’m not saying that you don’t have notifications because you don’t have friends. But I’ve seen this in myself—I never have any little numbers on my home screen because I rush to check every one as soon as it pops up.
Of course you can turn off those notifications like I mentioned previously. Or, you can just do some spring cleaning on your home screen. On Android, use an app launcher like Nova Launcher to go totally Marie Kondo and remove all app icons from view. On iOS, if you’re a believer in “out of sight, out of mind,” the simplest way is to put those apps in a new folder and move that folder to the last page of your apps. You’ll be able to get to them if you need to, but that red circle won’t be glaring at you every time you unlock your phone.
Recognize yourself in any of these signs? If you did, there is a way to stop the madness! If apps don’t do it for you (or, make things worse), try leaving your phone at home when you go out for dinner, or turning it off at night and actually buying an alarm clock. It’s the little actions you take daily that will make a huge impact on your addiction. Because every time you survive without it, you’ll remember that you don’t actually need it to survive.