Jul 22, 2020

Why do we fall off the bandwagon while breaking phone addiction?

After I shared my post on how we can win back our attention and focus, I received a couple of messages - "What you say is true. I have tried to come out of my phone addiction. I would become conscious, delete apps etc but the effect would last only for a few days. I end up in the same addictive phase again. Why does this happen?"

I started to become more conscious of my phone usage after reading this fabulous book "Deep Work" by Cal Newport back in 2017. With the initial motivation, I was able to cut down my phone usage for a few weeks. I had uninstalled FB and Twitter apps but over the course of the year, my Instagram and Youtube usage shot up. I just shifted from one app to another but the behavior remained the same.

A similar experience happened in 2019 after I read "Digital Minimalism" by the same author. Though I became more conscious of my overall digital usage, I do tend to go back to old ways of mindlessly checking and scrolling through my phone.

As I thought about this situation, I could correlate to how we go back to eating processed/junk foods even though we know they aren't good for our health.

Until and unless we enjoy cooking, meal planning, mindful shopping, understanding the importance of real, natural and local foods, it is hard to stay off processed/junk foods. The reason why I'm able to stay off junk foods comfortably is because of the fact that I enjoy all the activities involved in planning and preparing a healthy meal. 

Similarly, until and unless we enjoy and find meaning in offline activities like cooking, gardening, reading, painting etc, we tend to go back to mindless content consumption from our devices.

In the last few months, I started doing more chores at home and I also underwent a change in perspective about me-time. I have started to enjoy the chores. My thoughts shifted from "I have to wash dishes" to "I want to wash dishes". In fact, many of the blog post ideas strike me while washing dishes 🙂

The key here is to identify offline activities that we find enjoyable. Automatically, our inclination to reach for our phones whenever we experience a tinge of boredom would come down. It is also equally important to finding meaning in activities that we might dismiss as boring or mundane. 

When we consider our daily responsibilities (household chores, office work, meetings, workout etc) as meaningless, then we tend to grab our phones the moment we finish our daily duties to "distract" or "take a break", thinking we need some "me-time". 

Being aware and questioning ourselves - "Why am I taking my phone now?" helps a great deal to identify our triggers. That's a perfect starting point to understand our behaviors.

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