How to Free Yourself from Smartphone Slavery

Have you ever been in a lecture, and after just opening, you phone to check one notification find yourself having missed half of the lecture and now you have no clue what is going on? You aren’t alone. In a 2017 survey of 4150 16-75-year-olds, Deloitte found that 56% of the 16-24-year-olds think they are using their phone too much [1]. Many people waste too much time on their phone and before they realize it, it has become a habit. As they say, old habits die hard. This newsletter is here to help you if you want to learn to be more conscious of your cellphone use. Some steps to take are as follows:
  1. Inform those close to you about your decision.

The main worry people have when consciously not checking their phone is that they could be missing an important message or notification. If you tell the people you communicate with most that you may not answer them as quickly, you won’t have to worry that someone will think that you are rude for not answering them. This way intrusive, anxious thoughts about your phone will be less likely to happen while are away from your phone [2].

  1. Turn off push notifications

Doing this will bring a very immediate and noticeable change to your routine. Without your phone lighting up with a notification for you to check, you are much less likely to open it and get sucked in to the endless void of social media. This way, you are the one who chooses when to pick up your phone, instead of it calling out to you. It can also be a nice surprise when you open your phone for the first time in a while and see multiple notifications [2].

  1. Move distracting apps off of your main screen

If the first thing you see when you turn on your phone is the app that you use the most, it’s so much more tempting to open it. As the saying goes, out of sight out of mind. Moving it to a different screen will require extra work for you to find it and open it, therefore there will be less temptation to use apps that distract you [2].

  1. Delete the most time consuming apps

If you know a specific app is your greatest weakness, and you don’t actually benefit much out of using it, it might be best to just delete it. You may feel very disconnected or like you suddenly lost a limb when you first make this change, but after a day or two, the amount of time you have freed up becomes much more noticeable. This may not be a viable permanent solution for everyone but if you are committed or only need a temporary solution, it will do the trick [3].

  1. Avoid using your cell phone as an alarm

If the first thing you do in the morning is turn off your alarm clock on your cellphone, you are setting yourself up for failure. You already have your phone in your hands, tempting you, before you are fully awake. Using a regular alarm clock could help you avoid this distraction in the morning. Additionally, this could free up time in your morning routine, so if you find yourself being rushed every morning and starting off your day with a bad mood, the extra time will be much appreciated [3].

  1. Install monitoring apps

It might seem ridiculous to limit your smartphone use by installing another app, but apps do exist out there solely for the purpose of aiding you keep track of – or even forcefully control – your cellphone use. A few suggestions are as follows:

  • In Moment

For iOS only, it costs $12.49 a month (7 day free trial). In Moment Allows you to block your access to social media use after you hit a daily limit. You can find out which apps you use the most and track your usage and it also gives you predictions on how much of your life you will spend on your phone if your habits continue as they are [4].

  • Realizd

For both iOS and android. It is free but for advanced options, like being forced off your phone when you go over the limit you set, there are additional costs. Like the other apps, this app tracks your phone usage and provides insight about it. The app also displays the number of times you pick up your phone, the intervals of phone pick-ups, and the total number of minutes you have spent on your device [5].

  • Flipd

For both iOS and android, this app is free when you sign up with your school email. It gives you the option to receive notifications to Flip Off at set times (for example, during lectures), which starts a timer for the next time you can use your phone again. You can also lock yourself out of using all downloaded apps with the full lock option, if necessary [6].

  1. Bring a friend along

It may seem like you are taking a very big leap in implementing any of these changes into your life but if you are scared, I suggest bringing along a friend for the ride. If you both commit to any of these options, you become accountable to someone, which makes you less likely to give in to your phone’s temptation. It might seem daunting, but if you have identified this as a problem in your life, it is time to take control. Good luck and enjoy your new freedom.


[1]"UK public are ‘glued to smartphones’ as device adoption reaches new heights", Deloitte United Kingdom, 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 24- May- 2018].

[2]J. D'Onfro, "These simple steps will help you stop checking your phone so much", CNBC, 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 24- May- 2018].

[3]W. Fulton, "13 Ways To Break Your iPhone Addiction (That Actually Work)", Thrillist, 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 24- May- 2018].

[4]"Block Social Media - In Moment on the App Store", App Store, 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 24- May- 2018].

[5]"RealizD - Track how much you use your phone and Stay present - RealizD", RealizD, 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 24- May- 2018].

[6]"Flipd - Keep Focused on the App Store", App Store, 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 24- May- 2018].