Is it time to break up with your phone?

Research says we check our mobiles 10,000 times a year. Here’s how to stop it taking over
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1. Work with your phone to spend less time on it

The iPhone app Moment and Android’s Quality Time track how much time you spend scrolling and allow you to set daily limits. If you’re on it more than you’d like, try finding a distraction, like keeping hand lotion in your handbag and applying that when the urge to check Facebook strikes. And be patient: it takes about 10 weeks of repetition for a new habit to become second nature.

2. Ever noticed how phone alerts are usually red?

That’s because it’s a trigger colour, which makes it hard to ignore. So turn off all alerts except for messages from real people. That’s the advice from Time Well Spent, which was set up by an ex-Google staffer to stop technology ‘hijacking our minds’.

3. Have a trial separation!

If you tend to spend your commute checking your Instagram feed, read a newspaper instead. Or try ‘fleeting relationships’, suggests Catherine Price, author of How To Break Up With Your Phone. For example, strike up a conversation with your barista during the time you’d usually spend on your phone. Maintain that distance, too, by charging your phone outside your bedroom and waking up with an alarm clock instead. We love the Lumie Sunrise Alarm*.

4. Commit to no phones at the dinner table

It’s been shown that ‘phubbing’ (aka snubbing someone in favour of your phone screen) harms relationships. When out with friends, Price suggests you ask permission before checking your phone. This stops you reaching for it on autopilot, and may make your mates aware of their own ‘phubbing’ behaviour!

5. If you pick up your phone when you’re bored, think again

Studies show that boredom can actually be good for us. It can inspire us to seek a sense of purpose, which can lead us to do something meaningful, such as support a charity or give blood. Plus, it can get our creative juices flowing. So keep a pen in your bag and, next time your mind wanders, jot down your thoughts in a journal. You may even have a book-worthy idea!

*Available in selected stores only.