How To Stop Wasting Time on Your Smartphone

Sufyan Maan, M.Eng

On average, an individual touches their phone 2617 times a day.

Q: How often do we touch our phones?
A: oh, only about 2,617 times a day.
Mobile touches: A study on how humans use technology

Back in 2019, I used to run a couple of meetup groups to arrange hiking trips on the weekend/holidays. I was also a part of product management and startup groups.

Then one day, I read this research article that, on average, a person toches his phone at least 2617 times. I was shocked to see the data.

Time for introspection

That was a really striking moment because I was literally wasting a lot of time without getting any productive work done.

After writing down all the tasks I needed to do to use social media, meetup channels, and/or startup groups, I realized I could achieve all this by spending less than an hour a day. Wow

Before I jump on how to develop a habit to get rid of excessive use of social media (smartphone), I would like to share my research on why it’s important to reduce smartphone screen time.

Why did I want to get rid of smartphone scrolling?

After reading this research paper, it concludes that Americans spend way too much time scrolling through smartphones without any purpose.

Here are a couple of reasons why too much smartphone use is bad for health.

a. Detrimental to your productivity

According to this study at the University of Texas, using a smartphone mindlessly, including notifications and alerts, decreases your productivity.

Researchers call it “brain drain.”

According to this study at the University of California, it is shocking that an individual would take 23+ minutes to re-focus after a distraction. Imagine you wasted time on a cell phone and then facing a hard time focusing.

b. Detrimental to relationships

A single beep may distract us at the kitchen table, in restaurants, or even at work. According to one study, being constantly distracted by a smartphone might reduce the quality of conversations.

Both non-verbal and verbal elements of in-person communication are important for a focused and fulfilling conversation. — Dr. Shalina Misra

c. Possibility of losing your memory

Study shows that scrolling smartphone apps aimlessly overwhelmed our brain.

Constant scrolling overwhelms our brain, which can cause to prevent us retain information and lead to memory loss.

I think these bad habits are enough to think seriously about getting rid of excessive smartphone usage.

Let’s jump on to the solution part!

How did I cure this addiction?

After a couple of days, I realized that I did not have the control to stop touching my phone. It was just natural. I did not even know that I am using the phone for a long time. For example:

  • Talking to someone in-person — hand on the phone
  • Sitting in a meeting — hand on the phone
  • I’m bored; instead of building healthy habits like squats and planking, my hand was on the phone.
  • Etc.
It was just a reflexive response to use the phone whenever I was bored.

Many of us don’t know that we are consuming too much time on our smartphones.

How much time are you wasting each day? I would say it’s the time to introspect and look at the screen time.

Root cause

My attention span was literally less than 10 minutes and it was depleting without knowing the cause. I thought maybe I was sick or the environment was really distracted tec.

I would like to share that I grew up in a tiny remote village where 99% of people do farming. I suppose to do the same thing, but my skinny body did not allow me to handle anything heavy.

I was good at studies, and my parents decided to send me to another village for 6th grade.

I achieved almost everything with utmost concentration: getting into the top school on full scholarship in North America, career transition, getting immigration process, competitive exams, etc.

Now I realized that I was wasting too much time on my smartphone, and my focus was not the same as it used to be. After introspection, I become fully aware that I need a smartphone for a max of an hour to do anything productive daily.

I decided not to use the phone for more than 90 minutes a day.

How does the brain trigger system work?

It’s more about psychology than the problem; every time you get a quick reply from your chat groups (Slack, Whatsapp, meetup, etc.), you feel rewarded.

Your brain tells you that you have accomplished something. That thing is repeatedly embedded in our brain so that we might experience the same sensation of accomplishment.

Attention is the way social primates measure status. It is highly rewarding because it causes the release of brain chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins. — Keith Henson

So the main problem was that every time I used groups (WhatsApp, Slack, Meetup, etc.) to receive a response, my brain released a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which meant that I should do it again.

It was a never-ending process.

The bottom line

To cure smartphone addiction, my simple strategy is to keep an eye on the screen time and choose what works for you based on your needs.

In my case, I don’t need a phone for more than an hour a day for productive tasks.

I still consume 90 minutes or less to watch some TikTok or YT videos. In the end, I am a human, not a machine. Lol

Recommendation: I highly recommend this book, Deep Work by Cal Newport (Amazon affiliate link), to achieve almost anything in life if you follow his directions.

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