In the last post, I wrote about Variable Reward and how phone companies exploit primal triggers to get you hooked to your phone.
Here's a shocker: You're equally at fault.
It is easy to blame Instagram or Facebook. It is much difficult to take responsibility on to yourself. Instagram is doing their best to make users stay on their platform. Are you doing your best to stay off?
Over the last 2 years, I have been implementing several of the tactics that I will mention here. I have eliminated my need to be constantly on the phone. I hope you can implement the same and get to where I'm at.
Trust me, it's fucking easy.
Here are my actionable tips:
1. Get a life
You are hooked to the cheap dopamine rush from your phone because you are not hooked to a dopamine rush in real life.
This is one of the most fundamental problem in our generation, which is also a cause for your phone addiction. People are not doing enough things in real life.
Climb a mountain. Do push ups. Hit the road. Fight. Ask her out. Build businesses. Cook food. Learn a skill. Take risks. I don't know. You do you.
Start chasing dopamine in real life. You will forget your phone.
This is the most important tip. Absorb this and live it. You don't really need to read the rest of the blog-post if you promise me that you will start living real life.
2. Grayscale your phone
Phone companies have spent a lot of money on getting their colors right. There's a whole science behind how colors can be used to influence decisions.
Notice how almost all these social media companies have changed their logos to a cleaner, colorful, more attractive version?
This is not a fluke. It is well designed to be as clickable as possible.
Grayscaling completely un-does all their effort to trick you into clicking. It's also causes much lesser strain on your eye.
Here are links to helpful tutorials on how to grayscale your phone:
Android (takes less than one minute)
iOS (takes less than one minute)
3. Turn off notifications
I have said this to many people in real life when I see their phone buzz with a ton of notifications. They pop out the top of the phone like they're playing peek-a-boo. Completely unnecessary.
I only have notifications on for the most important things like calls, SMS, emails, and my calendar. I don't get any Whatsapp or Instagram alerts. I live a good life without them. I don't miss out on anything important.
It is fairly intuitive to figure out how to turn notifications off. Do it.
4. Don't keep it near you
The best way to tackle an addiction is to not have access to the thing you are addicted to. The best way to quit smoking is to stop buying cigarettes. The best way to quit your phone is to keep it away.
Keep your phone in another room while you work. It will also help you reach a flow state, if you are not constantly wanting to check it.
4b. No phones before bed: Another sub-tip would be to not use the phone right before you sleep. Most of us have gotten too used to lying on the bed and chatting or scrolling Instagram right before you sleep. This is absurd.
Don't keep the phone near you while you sleep. Even I (very recently) started doing this. Keep it away atleast 30 minutes before you hit the bed. Have a no phones on bed policy. Read a book.
5. Audit and restrict your usage
You probably don't realize how much you are using your phone. You first need to audit how much you use each app. Then, you need to set time limits on each of the time-waster apps.
Or best, just uninstall all social media.
6. Exercise your habit-avoiding muscle
The thing that separates man from animal is that man can avoid acting on his impulses. Stop being an impulsive animal (this deserves it's own blogpost)
Every time when your brain gives you an itch to check your phone, you actually check it. You never reject your impulses. This way, you strengthen the behavior of checking your phone whenever your brain feel an instant craving for dopamine.
You need to stop doing this. Every time your brain asks you for a dopamine hit, don't reach for your phone. This way you will train your mind to not act on the craving.
Trust me, the itch goes away after 20 seconds if you ignore it and focus on the task at hand.
6b: Replace the routine: You have established a routine of checking the phone when your brain wants you to. It can be slightly difficult to break. Instead, try replacing it with another routine.
When your brain wants you to check your phone, do 10 push-ups or read one page of a book.
7. Throw it away
Okay, don't actually throw your phone away. This point flows right after the last one.
Another way to stop depending on your phone a lot is to keep your phone away for extended periods of time (6-48 hours)
It makes you realize how much you don't need your phone. No phone calls. No SMS. No Instagram. Nothing. I've tried this for a maximum of 36 hours, feels good.
Anyone who loves you can always reach you by e-mail.
Pro tip: Inform people before you go.
8. Decouple work and WhatsApp
This is one of my recent discoveries.
Like I mentioned in my last post, most of us grab our phones to check WhatsApp. Then slide into scrolling Instagram because "5 more minutes won't hurt"
The reason is that most of us have work-related WhatsApp groups. WhatsApp, very conveniently, does not have a standalone web-client. They are aware of this. They want you to be on your phone.
I urge you to move your work chats to a platform that has a standalone web-client, like Telegram or Slack. Talk to your boss.
You don't need them on your phone.
I know, a good chunk of the people that read my blogs do so because they click on the link in my Instagram bio.
I don't care. Just get Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook off your phone. Join my newsletter to stay updated.
I still can't wrap my head around why anyone who isn't running a business account or building a personal brand needs to be on Instagram.
It's stupid social signalling that makes you feel your life is shit.
All these apps do is hog your attention. If you really want, you can still access them once in a day via the chrome browser on your phone. Uninstall the app.
Also, how dumb and naive do you have to be to still use Snapchat?
10. 404 not found
There is no 10th actionable step. This is not a blog some bimbo bitch with a B.A. degree wrote on "digital wellbeing" and "social media detoxes".
This is YC THE MAN. I aim at making a genuine difference in your life.
I have found these 9 tips useful over the last two years of actively staying away from my phone. Each one of them is something you can take action on right after you are done reading this.
Trust me, it's fucking easy.
If you found this helpful, help someone else by sharing it. I want to help you and your friends(who don't know me yet) to live in the real world.
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