According to research by psychology professor Larry Rosen, most people check their phones more often than every 15 minutes, even with no new notifications. People suffer from anxiety surrounding phone use, which researchers refer to as Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). This fear is self-explanatory – many of us feel that though if we don’t check our phones, we might miss out on something important.
What’s wrong with experiencing FOMO? In fact, it exacerbates anxiety and impacts our ability to focus. Here are 5 tricks to halt your phone addiction in its tracks.
1. Switch Off Push Notifications
A very simple way to minimize distractions is to switch off push notifications for all apps on your phone. You can do this by accessing “Notifications” under your phone’s Settings. You can leave important notifications ones on, such as utility apps, email, calendars, and chat app messages that only activate when they are being used. However, messages about the latest episode of a podcast you watch or every “like” you get on social media can be very disruptive.
2. Stay on Schedule
Try the following technique: work against your addiction in increments by setting alarms specifying when you can check your phone. You can begin with every half an hour, then move to checking your phone every hour. When the alarm goes off, spend a few minutes checking notifications and then reset the alarm.
Tell your relatives or friends you won’t be responding to messages as often and as fast as usual in order to limit what experts call “response anxiety.”
3. Remove Distracting Apps from your Home Screen
According to researchers, a large proportion of our phone use is not done consciously. This means we check our notifications automatically – we read texts, check the weather report, or shift from Twitter to Facebook and back again. Therefore, it is recommended to retain apps that are useful and educational and can help you learn a new skill or information. Meanwhile, notorious time-wasters such as social media apps should be relegated to folders located off the screen (Android) or on the second app page.
Taking this a step further, you can delete social media apps including Instagram and Facebook and only use your phone’s web browser.
4. Make the Screen Undesirable to See
In psychology, aversion therapy involves breaking a bad habit by developing repulsion to something you’re addicted to. This technique is often used in drug and alcohol addiction therapy. Interestingly, it can be applied to phone addiction by using grayscale to make the screen undesirable or less desirable to look at. Accordingly, you can adjust your phone display colors to grayscale to eliminate the appeal of colorful icons. This trick is very effective for deterring the use of social media apps, but you might need to turn grayscale off to take pictures or use Google Maps.
Grayscale is located in your phone settings’, under the “Accessibility” category. On a Samsung device, scroll down to grayscale under “Vision.” On an iPhone, scroll down to it after turning on “Color Filters” under “Display Accommodations.”
5. Don’t Sleep with Your Phone
Many people place their phones by their heads on the shelf next to their bed at night. Therefore, the phones become the first thing users see in the morning and the last thing they see before they go to sleep. This exacerbates phone addiction, not to mention increased exposure to blue light, which disrupts sleep. To avoid getting sucked in into a plethora of updates in the morning, charge your phone out of your reach and use a regular alarm clock.
Effectively implementing these tricks requires strong willpower to resist the all-pervasive digital distraction. However, there are also massive rewards to reap by liberating yourself from FOMO.