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How to Limit Looking at Your Phone

Fine.  I made a resolution.  It’s something I’ve been very consciously doing for a while now, but I decided to take it up a notch so I’m accountable.  I mean, if it’s my resolution, it’s serious.  I need to do it.

I’ve been asking myself a question every time I reach for my phone.  It’s pretty simple; I just say to myself, “Melissa, why are you reaching for your phone?

Sometimes I have an answer for myself. “I am looking at my phone because I’m checking to see if there are any work emails.  I haven’t looked in a while, therefore it is entirely possible there is something I need to answer.”  Or, “I’m going to play one game of Solitaire because I’m thinking right now, and playing this game helps me think and problem solve.”  Or, “I have the time since I arrived early to my meeting, and I feel like connecting with people, so I’m going to check Facebook.”

If there is a good answer, I look at my phone.


There are a bunch of times when I lie to myself, and then I need to call myself out on it.  “I’m checking for work emails,” I’ll say, even though I know I checked 5 minutes earlier.  “I want to connect with people so I’m going to check Facebook,” I’ll say, even though I’m not connecting with the human beings who are physically around me because I’m looking at my phone.

And other times, I’m honest with myself, even though I know the answer has no legs: “I’m bored, so I’m checking my phone to stave off that boredom.”  Or, “I’m checking my phone because it’s easier than tackling the stuff I have to get done.”

Those times, I don’t look at my screen.  I may touch the phone through my pocket, but I don’t turn it on.  Sometimes I have to deny myself the screen a lot.  Other days I barely remember that I have a phone when I’m moving through the house or out-and-about.

I don’t know why I am limiting it: Do I feel like I am missing out on the world around me because I am looking at my screen? Or do I think other people think that I look at my phone too much? Or have I realized that I don’t always use this tool well?

All I know is that I’m setting some conscious limits.  Not a time budget since my needs will change from day-to-day, but instead forcing a mindfulness of why my hand reaches for this tool.


1 35jupiterdrive { 01.05.16 at 8:54 am }

I do this with screentime too, and my life has improved because of it. I think it is about connecting with the humans around you but it’s also good for us. http://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2014/03/31/parentalmonitoring If this is true for kids, and I think they’re right that is, I suspect it’s also true for grownups

2 Catwoman73 { 01.05.16 at 9:20 am }

A few months ago, I tried to just check FB and my e-mail once per day. I was shocked at how hard it was! And I’m actually not that bad about screen time. I found it helped to keep myself really, REALLY busy with other stuff- cooking, reading, writing, and cleaning mostly. It was relatively easy when I was alone, but at work or even when my husband and daughter were home, I found myself getting irritated that they were starting at their phone or ipad while I was doing other things and trying to have a conversation with them! Based on my experience, I think it would be much easier if you had a core group of people doing it with you.

Good luck Mel- it’s a tough habit to break!

3 m. { 01.05.16 at 9:24 am }

I love this idea, and I’m going to give it a go. I’ve found myself slipping into this habit a lot, even though, like catwoman73, it angers me when my family chooses a screen over me. Ok, 1, 2, 3….go!

4 Lori Lavender Luz { 01.05.16 at 10:32 am }

I would like to be more intentional about looking at my phone, too. I’m going to try this technique for the next day or two and see what happens.

5 Arnebya { 01.05.16 at 10:36 am }

I’m living this as well, right now. It’s not so much that I care what others think; it’s internal. I am looking at the phone too much. I’m limiting all social media but like you, what those limits look like changes daily. My main goals are while at work (because I’m turning in projects late) and at home after dinner. At home in the evenings I’ve decided to wait until the kids are in bed. At the start of 2015 I turned off notifications for all social media. By the summer I’d deleted the FB app because it was that more than any other that was eating my time and attention. It works for me and has helped me realize that the reasons I reach for the phone are boredom and habit rather than true interest, usually. (And Ruzzle. I love Ruzzle.)

6 Tiara { 01.05.16 at 11:05 am }

One of the best things I did to limit my reaching for my phone was to disable most of the notifications. I wasn’t hearing the dings or feeling the buzzes of new stuff so over time it became easier to reach for it less. Good luck, it is hard but I know you can do it.

7 Lavonne @ *Our Wish* { 01.05.16 at 11:22 am }

So much THIS! I need to work on this as well. I’m constantly on my phone and it’s not even something I notice anymore. It’s probably easy for me as well because with the no kids, and recently no cable, I find myself stuck on my phone all the time. I’m going to add this to my list of things I’d like to work on!

8 Beth { 01.05.16 at 1:39 pm }

I deleted fb from my phone with similar reasoning- why am I checking it so much? I’m bored but there are people around, books I want to read, shows I want to watch. Fb was just easier but didn’t really do anything (eventually) but annoy me. So I kept my account but I have to intentionally choose to log in, which has made me realize just how little I’m actually interested in it.

9 Ana { 01.05.16 at 2:45 pm }

Love this. will start doing it. similar to what I’m trying to do with food (“why do I want to eat, and why do I want to specifically eat THIS?”

10 Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) { 01.05.16 at 3:20 pm }

Mindfullness is always a good thing!

11 SRB { 01.05.16 at 7:57 pm }

I found that deleting many apps (and even accounts) has helped me to look at my phone FAR less. I only use Feedly, comment on blogs, use Pinterest, etc on my laptop. No games. I still use Instagram though…so still stuck in it a little bit. We just to be able to just wait. Look at *things*. Why is that so hard now?

12 Mali { 01.06.16 at 12:10 am }

The smartphone and iPads are both wonderful devices that assist those of us who suffer from procrastination to take it to a new level! It’s one of my unofficial resolutions for this year. To stop checking Fb and email and Feedly and playing games on my iPad. Like you, I want to be more mindful about it.

I’m not bad with my phone, I have to say. I hate it when I’m with friends and they check their phones for no reason, and so I make very sure that I don’t do it either. If I’m away from the house, and waiting for something though … well, it’s a lifesaver!

Good luck!

13 B { 01.06.16 at 2:06 am }

You rock. It’s so simple. I am going to do this.

14 Cristy { 01.06.16 at 12:41 pm }

This reminds me of Jess’s post about putting her phone in a box while she’s writing. Will have to try both of these, as I’m worried it’s become a habit to reach for the phone.

Good luck with this!

15 loribeth { 01.06.16 at 8:13 pm }

I don’t have a smartphone — although the day is coming soon when I will probably cave and get one. The 8-year-old flip phone I do have is rarely turned on. 😉 So it’s not an issue for me. But I do spend way too much time on my laptop. Not as much as dh sometimes accuses me of doing 😉 but probably too much, nevertheless. Sometimes I’m just refreshing tabs constantly, looking for something new, when I really should just put the thing down & pick up a book. :p

16 Elisha { 01.08.16 at 11:35 am }

Sooo good! I have made this a new year’s resolution as well. I have found that i am just silly addicted to checking my phone :/

17 JustHeather { 01.11.16 at 12:51 pm }

I have been trying to be less on my phone also. Or at least more mindful and conscious of when I am on it. I don’t have the FB app, but I do use the browser for it. And I’ve also turned off most notifications (only email, sms and whatsapp).

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