How to Be Less Obsessed with Your Phone in 3 Not-Easy Steps
“I’m just being helpful. I’d hate to leave anyone hanging!”
This is what I tell myself as I open the kitchen drawer where I “hid” my phone. I rummage through the wooden spoons and whisks and fish it out, before I come to my senses.
This behavior might not strike you as odd, but I did this on day two of a social media break. Eeesh.
If we’re friends on Instagram, you might have remember that I took some time off so I could finish my book. And I did, in fact, use that time to write without distraction and complete my manuscript!
Not posting definitely helped me think clearer and fully focus on my book. But during those first 48 hours of my social media break, I still found myself on autopilot, checking DMs and comments. I was surprised how many times I mindlessly opened my phone!
What if someone in my DMs needed advice and I didn’t respond?
Maybe some of my followers missed the “I’m taking a break” post, left comments, and think I’m ignoring them!
What will all the people who made my recipes + tagged me think if I don’t reply?!!
And while this was all very well-intentioned, let’s be honest. These concerns were the justification I wanted to pick up my phone and put off important work. Even if I wasn’t creating new content during my time off Instagram, I was still allowing it to take up brain space.
Now, I have nothing against social media. Clearly! It’s helped me meet amazing people, learn new things, and build my business.
But I can also acknowledge that it’s a bit addictive and provides ample justification to productively procrastinate. These phone-checking urges died away after a few days, but the fact that they happened at all really got me thinking.
Are there areas of your life - social media or otherwise - where you’re justifying choices you know aren’t serving you in the long run?
Here are three steps that can help you answer this question.
Double-check the story you’re telling yourself
The story I was telling myself was that I “had to” check Instagram in case anyone “needed me.” Where are you telling yourself stories like this?
Are you telling yourself that it’s more important to clean the bathroom than work on that exciting-but-intimidating project? Are you saying that it’s pointless to speak up about important topics because it “won’t change anything?” Are you embracing the story that “someone like you” can’t be good at “something like that?” Or, are you pushing off prioritizing your own health because you’re “too busy” tending to 1,000 other things and other people?
Eavesdrop on the stories your brain is telling you. You might be amazed at what you hear!
Examine how you feel before + after
In a perfect world, our choices make our lives better, easier, happier. They strengthen our relationships, calm our minds, and move our lives forward.
Popping into my Instagram DMs when I was supposed to be working would do none of that! In fact, it would have made me feel bad - frustrated with myself and anxious about the time I’d wasted. Especially since I care so much about giving this project my all!
So, when we do these things that require justification, it’s important to examine how we feel afterwards.
How do we feel after we let ourselves off the hook for that self-imposed deadline? What’s our mindset after we watch a fifth Netflix show? Do our stomachs hurt after that big bowl of ice cream when we know dairy doesn’t agree with us?
Many of us like to hide from the effects of our justification-requiring choices. Just tuning into our before-and-afters can have a big impact.
Try to get to the why
There’s a why behind all of our choices; there’s a reason I felt pulled towards my phone.
And there’s likely a reason why you’re justifying your choices. Maybe we want to feel seen + important. Perhaps we’re self-sabotaging to avoid rejection or failure. It could be that we’re just procrastinating.
Your why is unique to you, but if you can get to the heart of it, you’ll be able to start making real changes.
Are these surprisingly deep epiphanies to gain from an Instagram break? You bet!
But the emotional, psychological work is where real change happens. In my next post, I share some nitty gritty, lifehack-y tips for being less obsessed with your phone. But none of those tips will work until you’re willing to look deeper.