How I lowered my phone usage to 2 hours a day

by | Jan 13, 2024

I’ve gotten my phone usage down to ~2 hours/day.

This is down from my average ~5 hours in recent months.

I spend these 3 extra hours per day:

  • practicing guitar (~30 mins/day)
  • reading books (~50 pages/day)
  • Writing blog entries such as this one.

How did I lessen my phone addiction?

One word – or app, rather – Freedom.

Freedom is a tool that blocks websites/notifications, so you can focus on what really matters. I’ve read so many books on productivity that highly recommend this tool.

I sprang for the $80 lifetime Black Friday deal last year. I’m a sucker for non-recurring payment deals!

I didn’t set it up at first. But as the New Year came, it was time.

Every year, I begin by deactivating my Facebook and Instagram accounts. I delete these and other apps on my phone.

But I still somehow compulsively check ESPN, CNN, New York Times when I’m eating lunch or just walking around. I check my email several times a day.

I finally started using Freedom.

There are 2 questions that I considered.

First, what should I block?

Freedom comes with a curated filter list that you can toggle on/off. For example: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Netflix, etc. I toggled almost everything on (except Spotify & a couple messaging apps – in case someone really needs to reach me)

I tried this out for a few days, and I still caught myself checking ESPN and a few blogs too much, so I added these 5 or 6 websites to the block list.

I realized that I was still checking email too much.

Yup, I finally did it. I blocked my email from my phone. What? I know. That’s a big deal for me.

I haven’t blocked the phone feature yet. That would be a bridge too far.

I wanted to end the mindless checking/scrolling, and I think I’m on the path there.

Second, when should I block?

I set up a recurring schedule so that all these apps are blocked from 8 am to 12 pm & from 1 to 7 pm. That give me hour or so where I can have lunch and catch up on phone communications if I need to.

If I really need to check email, I can go to my office and use my personal computer. But that takes effort and work. It’s not as convenient as just using my phone.

And here’s the thing…

Yes, I still get that itch to check my phone. But it’s not nearly as strong of a pull as before.

I’m going to stick with this schedule and see if it can become my new battle rhythm.