#8 Ways to Cut Back on Your Smartphone Usage

Overreliance on smartphones for work and leisure signifies a societal shift to live with presence. Screen time’s adverse effects include blue light, altered brain chemistry, and encouraged isolation, and people are wising up to the harm. Here’s how to reduce use for improved quality of life.

Why You Might Want to Use Your Phone Less

It’s common for smartphones to monopolize people’s time and energy. You may have noticed how you feel after a screen-time binge because studies prove it can result in:

Analyze how you feel after each chunk of time on your phone to uncover what motivates you to spend less time on screens. The answer is different for everyone and their situation, but discovering your specific why will keep your determination high when making habitual changes.

Utilize Do Not Disturb

Some could dismiss the value of Do Not Disturb because it’s a simple toggle. Users can flip it on and off effortlessly, but it can silence calls, notifications, and other alerts while active. Constantly buzzing notifications are one of the reasons people pick up their phones so frequently. Eliminating this prompting behavior will drastically lower pickups and subsequent scrolling sprees. After so long, you’ll forget you turned on Do Not Disturb and grow out of the temptation to flip the switch off.

Use Google and Apple Tracking Tools

An iPhone showing iOS's screen time feature.
Cristian Dina/

Time-tracking tools provide hard data that reveals the severity of your screen dependence. Action can’t happen if you don’t know the most prominent players influencing your attention. Apps like Android’s Digital Wellbeing and Apple’s Screen Time highlight the number of:

  • Notification alerts
  • Phone pickups
  • Hours per day with the screen on
  • Minutes spent in each app category

Phone users can use these analytics as cornerstones for goal setting. Being discerning is the key. Perhaps you use your phone to read books for two hours a day — this screen time may weigh differently on your mind compared to the three hours per day spent on social media. Seeing these numbers will illuminate your trends and comfort defaults, and the numbers that make you most unsettled can motivate you to focus on specific niches for reducing screen time.

Set App Limits

A smartphone with the settings tab open
Tada Images/

After knowing what apps compromise most of your time, setting app limits is one of the best ways to begin accountability tracking. You may select a resolution to decrease social media usage by a specific percentage or minimize unconscious pickups and distracted app surfing from simply checking the time.

Setting resolutions like this is a powerful motivator, and even though it’s common for 80% of these New Year goals to dissolve after the first month, you’ve still created more significant degrees of awareness regarding screen time. Set app limits compassionately, and don’t be too strict at first — gradually shifting these habits will increase the likelihood of success.

Get a Smartwatch

Using a smartwatch is one of the most clever ways to avoid your phone, especially if you want to peel your children away from their devices. Smartwatches limit capabilities because of screen size and app compatibility. Notifications are one of the most common reasons people pick up their phone — alongside checking the time — and a smartwatch satisfies both urges by showing them without habitual app perusing after you swipe away that banner.

Use Grayscale Mode

Smartphones are shiny and tempting, and notification bubbles or the colors of a familiar app logo can be enough to draw you to unlock your phone. Setting phones to grayscale mode is one way to minimize visual intrigue and remove positive reinforcements, especially because jarring colors — like red for notifications — won’t be as distinctive if everything is in grayscale.

Manage and Clear Notifications

An iPhone with the notifications settings screen open.

The fewer reminders you get from your phone to look at screens, the better your screen time numbers will be. Dig into your cellphone’s settings and identify every app sending notifications. Pay special attention to the most time-consuming ones and turn those off. Go through every app because there may be notifications for things you no longer use. It’s the ideal time to do an audit and clear your phone of anything that could ping your distraction away.

Designate Phone Time

Phone addicts who need more accountability and resistance may want to take more extreme measures. Here are a couple of environmental changes you may want to try to assert designated hours for phone time:

  • Use a timer lockbox that will eliminate phone access until the timer runs out.
  • Create a schedule in your calendar and set reminders for when it’s time to stop scrolling.
  • Put your phone out of sight until the end of the workday, perhaps behind lock and key.
  • Outline a temptation bundling plan and only allow yourself to use your phone during certain activities.
  • Designate certain rooms in your home for phone use and others where they’re banned.

Start New Hobbies or Activities

A woman knits from thick yarn.

Humans resort to their phones for mindless entertainment because it’s easy. Rekindling an old hobby or beginning a new activity could be the answer to lessening online video and social media consumption. Defaulting to your phone won’t come as naturally to you once you find more enjoyment from these hobbies.

Developing Healthy Smartphone Relationships

People can keep smartphones for convenience and delight, but decreasing screen time will allow humanity to have better command over their time. Reducing excessive distractions will result in better sleep, mental health, and attention span as phones no longer have as much control over your daily life.

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One Comment

  1. Hey there! I totally agree that smartphones have become an essential part of our daily routine. We use them for so many things like checking social media, sending messages, emails, playing games, and browsing the internet. However, using our phones excessively can cause negative effects on our productivity, sleep quality, and mental health, like feeling anxious or down.

    The article suggests that one way to reduce our phone use is by turning on the greyscale mode. This feature removes the colors from the display, making it less attractive and less engaging.

    I wrote a detailed article on how to turn on the greyscale mode on an Android phone. Here’s the link: I hope it helps your readers!

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