You should really stop checking your phone all the time

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stop checking phone
It's hard not to pick up your iPhone all the time.
Photo: Tyler Lastovich/Unsplash

Your iPhone is amazing. And that’s part of its problem. Every time you’re at a loose end, waiting in line, or just think that you’re bored, you pull it out and graze those Home screen icons to find something that might interest you.

This, you may not be surprised to know, is unhealthy behavior.

At best, it’s a nervous habit that turns into a compulsion. At worst, it can cause anxiety, give you square eyes, and disconnect you from the delights of the world around you. And if you are creative in any way, the constant stimulation from your iPhone crowds out any opportunity for your imagination to drift, or for you to notice inspiration and oddities in the smells, sights and sensations of the real world.

Which is why you should follow the advice of app developer Readdle, and stop checking your phone all the damn time.

How to stop checking your phone all the time

How to Stop Checking your Phone all the Time,” an article by Readdle’s Maria Henyk, is full of great advice. I take great pains not to use my iPhone too much — I keep it in my pocket when I’m in a cafe or restaurant with friends, and I read a book or listen to a podcast on the metro. But despite my best efforts, I get distracted by notifications as soon as I pick up the phone to do something with it.

Maybe I want to look up a destination on the map, and I end up sucked in by a notification on eBay for that cool thing I want to buy. You know how it goes.

Henyk’s guide covers the following points:

  1. Pause to think before picking up your phone
  2. Analyze how you use your phone and set limits
  3. Get rid of distracting apps
  4. Minimize notifications
  5. Keep your phone literally away
  6. Don’t use your phone before going to bed

I already practice 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6, but apparently, that’s still not enough. I tried 2, but Apple’s Screen Time feature is such a monumental mess that I find it sucks more time than it saves.

More tips

Overall, Henyk’s list is excellent and full of really great advice. If you wear an Apple Watch, leaving your iPhone physically distant from you is a really good tip, for example. If you also prune your notifications, the chance of distraction falls even more. I like the watch for this very reason — it’s so hard to look anything up on it, that I just don’t bother.

Another tip is to carry a paper notebook and pen in your pocket at all times. Then, instead of pulling out your iPhone to look something up or make a note, you can write it down. This is 100% distraction-free. Plus, a lot of the time, you’ll wonder why that Google search for Captain Picard’s birthday seemed so urgent at the time. Working on paper is also more pleasant, because you can doodle and let your mind wander more easily.

So, go read the article. Or not, I guess, if you’re really into following its advice.