Do you know how much time per day you spend on your phone? If the data is correct, it’s probably a lot. Data from a global tech care company found that Americans check their phones an average of 96 times per day. Meanwhile, a study from the RescueTime app found that people spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes per day on their phones.
Wondering how to spend less time on your phone? In this article, we’re breaking down some simple strategies to help you cut back on your phone use. Not only will you have more hours per week to use for other purposes, but you may also find that you’re happier, healthier, and more focused.
Why spend less time on your phone
You’re probably not surprised to learn that people spend a lot of time on their phones. And you might be asking yourself: What’s the big deal? Why kick a habit that doesn’t seem to be causing you any problems?
While you may not be surprised by how much time some people spend on their phones, you’ll probably be surprised by some of the negative effects it causes. Here are just a few startling facts about phone use:
- University of Arizona study found that teens with smartphone addiction showed signs of depression.
- University of Pennsylvania study found that less social media use may lead to significant improvement in well-being.
- Journal of Behavior Addictions study found that smartphone use reduces our attention span and reduces our ability to focus.
While smartphone use clearly doesn’t have the same effect on everyone, the data shows that spending too much time on your phone can damage your mental health, reduce the ability to focus, and cause issues with relationships.
14 Tips on how to spend less time on your phone
After years of unconsciously picking up your phone throughout the day, the idea of quitting the habit probably seems daunting. You can take plenty of steps to make small progress that will add up to a big difference.
1. Track your screen time
Both iPhone and Android come with features where you can track your screen time on your phone. You can see your daily average time spent, your weekly total, as well as the apps where you spend the most time. Seeing how many hours per week you spend on your phone can really be a wake-up call.
This is especially true when you consider what else you could have done with that time. For instance, you could start a new hobby or maybe a side hustle to earn more income.
I’m guessing most of us would be shocked by just how much time we spend on our phones. While tracking your screen time alone isn’t enough to change your habits, it can certainly give you the motivation you need.
2. Spend less time on your phone by creating a schedule for phone use
One way how to spend less time on your phone is to create a schedule for yourself. Set certain hours of the day where your phone is off-limits for anything other than necessary communication. Then you can set certain times where you’re allowed to scroll social media or play games without guilt.
Phones today make it easy to set these limits for yourself. For example, the iPhone “Downtime” feature allows you to set certain hours of the day where only certain apps and phone calls are allowed. You can also set time limits on certain apps to ensure you don’t spend too much time on them.
3. Turn off notifications
Notifications can cause us to spend more time on our phones than we had planned. Picture this: You’re sitting at your desk working when you get a notification that someone has commented on your latest Instagram photo. You open the app to see the comment, and it only takes you a few seconds to reply.
The problem is that now you’ve got your phone in your hand with the Instagram app open. Naturally, you start scrolling. Suddenly, instead of working, you’re scrolling through Instagram photos or watching Instagram Stories. The same problem can happen with everything from Instagram to Facebook to emails.
Therefore, one of the best ways to reduce phone time is to turn off all notifications. Once you no longer get notifications, you’ll realize just how unnecessary they were and how much you appreciate being able to pay attention to your phone only when you want to.
4. Delete unnecessary apps
Most of us have probably downloaded an app with the intention of using it or trying it out, only to never open it again. Maybe you planned to try a new workout app that didn’t pan out or downloaded Duolingo with the best intentions to learn a new language, only to never start.
Take a few minutes one day and clear out those apps you don’t use. While they aren’t necessarily increasing your screen time — since you aren’t even opening them — they are creating clutter on your phone and using up space. Better yet, swap them out for some money-making apps instead!
5. Move distracting apps off your home screen
Do you have certain apps on your phone that you unconsciously open every time you pick up your phone? You don’t even have to think about it — you just pick up your phone and suddenly find yourself in that app. For many people, it’s either social media or email.
One way to reduce these second-nature actions is to move the apps off your home screen. When you create the extra step of having to swipe to a new screen to open the app, you’re reducing your chances of opening it every time you pick up your phone.
It might seem like just moving it to a new page won’t make much of a difference, but you’d be surprised! Sometimes all it takes is a little shakeup to change a habit.
6. Use the "Do Not Disturb" feature
Using the do not disturb feature is how to spend less time on your phone without much effort. Both iPhone and Android phones come with a “Do Not Disturb” feature, which silences all phone calls, texts, and notifications until you turn the feature off.
This setting is great for people who are easily distracted by text messages during the day and then find themselves opening other apps instead of going back to work. When that initial trigger isn’t there, you’re less likely to pick up your phone in the first place.
7. Turn your phone on Grayscale
iPhones and Androids both have a Grayscale feature that allows you to change all of your phone’s visuals to black, white, and gray. Believe it or not, this feature can actually reduce the visual stimulation you get from being on your phone and can make you less likely to keep your screen on.
Another reason Grayscale is so effective is that it also affects social media apps like Instagram and Facebook. And if you can only view Instagram in black and white, you might find that it’s not nearly as enjoyable.
8. Use an app to restrict access to certain apps
We’ve already talked about phones’ built-in features that allow you to restrict certain apps at certain times, but you can also download third-party apps to create a similar effect. With apps like Offtime, Moment, and BreakFree, you can track your screen time and set time limits for yourself.
Offtime, which is available for both Android and iPhone, has a feature where you can enter modes like work, family, or me time, which impacts which apps you can use. For example, you might allow yourself to use social media during your “me time,” but not during work or family time.
9. Set an alarm for phone-free time
Sometimes all you need is a little reminder to get off your phone. Setting an alarm on your phone can help you do that. An alarm can be helpful if there’s a certain time you want to be reminded to turn off your phone screen.
For example, maybe you find yourself staying up late at night on your phone, and an alarm an hour before bedtime would help reduce that. Or maybe you find that you’re on your phone during family dinner time, and setting an alarm could remind you to focus on your partner or kids instead.
10. Keep your phone out of the bedroom
For many people, looking at their phones is the last thing they do before they go to sleep and the first thing they do when they wake up in the morning. And when that’s the case, it’s no wonder we’re so addicted. We’re literally allowing our phones to set the tone for our entire day.
One way how to spend less time on your phone is to keep it out of the bedroom. Set up a charging station where you put your phone before going to bed at night. You can even create a household rule that the whole family has to drop their phones in one central location before turning in for the night.
11. Remove your email from your phone
For people who have a hard time turning off their work brain, email on your phone can be incredibly tempting. You probably find that even after you’ve finished work for the day — or the weekend — you’re still constantly checking emails to make sure nothing important has come in.
It’s true that some people need to be checking email regularly to be on the lookout for time-sensitive communication. But for most people, there’s nothing that can’t wait until the next time you’re sitting at your computer.
12. Set ground rules with friends and family
Do you ever find yourself with friends and family, or maybe your partner, and you’re all on your phone? Or maybe the person you’re with is on their phone, and so you pick up yours simply to have something to do.
Phone use is so second nature these days that we probably don’t even notice how often this happens. But unfortunately, it reduces the quality of the time we spend with our loved ones.
One way to combat this is to set phone ground rules with friends and family. Maybe you decide that phones have to remain in another room when you’re spending one-on-one time together or, if you’re out together, phones have to stay in the car. Setting ground rules is how to spend less time on your phone and spend more time doing more important things!
13. Spend less time on your phone by using other devices
We use plenty of functions on our phones that could be just as easily done with another device. And by using a different device for these functions, we’d reduce the number of times throughout the day we need to pick up our phones at all.
Here are a few examples of functions you can do with other devices:
- Use a traditional alarm clock to wake you up in the morning.
- Try a Kindle for reading instead of a phone app.
- Use a smartwatch for texts and phone calls, so you don’t have to keep your phone on you.
- Use a smart speaker for tasks like checking the weather or adding items to your grocery or to-do list.
14. Decide ahead of time what to do with your new free time
When you check your phone’s screen time, you’ll probably find that you spend hours per week on your device. And if you take serious action to reduce your screen time, you’ll have a lot more free time. The problem here is that we often fill free time by picking up our phones.
Rather than allowing yourself to default to your old habit, intentionally choose other ways to spend that time. Maybe you’ll decide to spend your evenings reading. Or you might decide to use that time to start a new side hustle. Whatever it is, just be intentional about it.
Spend less time on your phone and more time towards your goals
Phone use can be seriously addicting — apps are literally designed for that purpose! But with a few useful strategies, you can reduce the amount of time you spend on your phone by hours per week.
Not only will you eliminate some of the negative mental health ramifications of spending too much time on your phone, but you’ll also have a lot more time to focus on things like financial goals and hobbies instead!