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A Simple Hack for Reducing Phone Addiction

Cory Muscara






Scan the following QR code with your camera app to open it on your phone

A Simple Hack for Reducing Phone Addiction

This talk discusses a simple method to cut down on screen time and use your phone more intentionally.

In today's episode, I'm going to

share how we can start to break

our phone addiction and be more

intentional with how we use technology.

More to come on that in a

moment, but first let's settle

in with the sound of the bells.

Do you find yourself checking

your phone more than you'd like?

Do you find yourself spending more time

in front of a screen than feels healthy?

Do you find yourself randomly scrolling

through emails or social media when

it's really not necessary and is not

serving your wellbeing in any way?

If so, welcome to being

a human being in 2020.

Yes, you are not alone.

All of us are learning how to

contend with this new technology.

Even though it's been around for a

number of years now, it is increasingly

becoming addictive and increasingly

becoming an integral part of how

we navigate and live our lives.

And while I don't intend for this

episode to be a philosophical discussion

on the merits of technology or even

the ethical design of technology, I

do think we're all in new territory

trying to figure out how to be in

relationship to these devices that are

highly addictive and also highly useful.

One thing I've been noticing for myself

in relationship to this technology

is that many times throughout the

day, I need to be checking emails,

checking social media, or the calls,

text messages related to my work.

There may be people that need

something from me, that need to

update me on something, or I might

need to respond to something on

social media or respond to an email.

Because of this, my device,

specifically my phone, has

become a big part of my life.

And I do check it many

times throughout the day.

But one thing I've started to notice

more and more is that I'm often randomly

checking my phone when I don't actually

need to, or if something were to come

in, I'm not in a position or don't

have the intention to respond anyway.

So, what do I mean by that?

A lot of times I'm scrolling through

Gmail throughout the day, checking to

see if there are any important updates

or if someone needs something from me.

But a lot of times, because I do do

that checking so frequently, I find

myself going on automatic pilot with

it and checking it out of habit.

And oftentimes when I do see an email

come through, I'm not in a position

or don't have the time to respond.

And so it just becomes something

that clutters my mental attention

and creates this felt sense within

me that there's so much to do.

So this habit of checking my phone without

actually intending to, or having the

time to do anything about what I would

be seeing, whether it's a notification,

an email, a comment that comes through,

just ends up becoming wasted energy,

wasted time and wasted mental space.

And in talking to more and

more people about this, it does

seem to be a common experience.

So I imagine you might have some

familiarity with what this is like

to be caught up on your device, not

only on autopilot, but really out

of habit, thinking you're there to

do something perhaps productive.

Or even thinking you're being intentional

with it, like you're intentionally

going to scroll through Facebook for

a period of time for entertainment.

But it's really just because you're bored

with whatever you're doing and your thumb

is very used to swiping, swiping, swiping.

So, something I've been using to help me

with this, to be more intentional with

my phone use is before I reached for

my phone, I asked myself the question.

If I were to see something that

needs my attention, email, Facebook

comment, text message, if I were to

see something that needs my attention,

would I be able to tend to it right now?

If I were to see something that

needs my attention, would I be

able to tend to it right now?

In the context of email, that's very

simply if an email were to come through

would I respond to it right now?

And if the answer is no, I'm just

randomly checking it during this short

break in a conversation I'm having,

then I'm not going to look at my email.

If it has to do with social media and

a comment comes through, I reply to

a lot of comments on my social media.

Is this a comment that I would respond to?

Is this a direct message

I would respond to?

Am I in the space to do that right now?

Or am I just checking it out of habit

to get a little dopamine hit, to see

that little red circle that says three,

four or five so I could get so excited

cause people commented on my ? And if

it's the latter and not the former,

if I'm not in a space to do something

about what's coming through, then

I see if I could put my phone away.

This has been a surprisingly

powerful heuristic for me.

Not only does it help me be more

intentional with how I use my device, but

it also creates much more ease in my mind.

I find, and I think the research is

there to support this, that, that

aimless scrolling, that neurotic

checking, that going on our device

out of autopilot or out of habit just

creates extra angst in my system,

especially when I'm seeing things

that I can't even do anything about.

And by checking that tendency in

real time and saying, no, it allows

me to do something more intentional

with my attention and my presence.

Now is this a full proof system?

No, you first have to remember to do it.

And that's one of the hardest things when

it comes to technology, is that we're,

we are often so addicted to this and

our patterns and reactivities around it

are so habitual and often subconscious

that where typically scrolling through

emails, Facebook, Instagram without any

awareness of how that actually happened.

How the phone got out of our

pocket, in our hand, the app

opened, and now we're looking at a

porcupine giving birth on YouTube.

These things tend to happen very quickly

and beneath our conscious awareness.

So the first step is cultivating

an awareness of these patterns so

that we can stop in those moments

and, and ask ourselves the question.

If I were to see something

that needs my attention, would

I be able to tend to it now?

But as I've been practicing this, I

noticed that the more times I'm able

to do it, the more it becomes a habit.

There are days where I forget entirely,

but then I get back on the wagon.

And I do think I've made this

metaphor before, but I do think it's

helpful to see these new developments

of habits in the same way we

might view a meditation practice.

The mind wanders, we bring it back.

Mind wanders, we bring it back.

The mind wanders off for two minutes

at a time, we still bring it back.

All of this is a learning.

It's a wobbling where we're walking, we're

falling over, we're regaining balance,

we're falling over, regaining balance.

So don't be discouraged if you try this

out and it doesn't work or you try it

out, it goes well, and then a week goes

by and you totally forget to do it.

It's an ongoing practice.

We're all in it together.

And when it comes to exploring our

relationship to technology, this

is new territory for all of us.

So thank you for your continued

practice of learning and exploring

new ways to get a little better at

life and become a better human being.

Remember, it's not just for you.

It's for the people we most love, our

communities, our country, our world.

The work you do on yourself within

has a ripple effect outwardly,

and for that I'm grateful.

So thank you again.

I'll talk to you soon and

until then, take care.

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