Advice

How to Finally Break Your Phone Addiction This Year

Catherine Price, author of How to Break Up With Your Phone, with five tips for getting it right.


screen time

Get less screen time in 2020. Photograph by Getty Images/Chainarong Prasertthai

You keep saying you want less screen time. Catherine Price, Philly-based author of How to Break Up With Your Phone, tells you how to finally get it.

Put it in perspective.

Recognize that the life you want isn’t behind a screen. “Your time is finite and zero-sum,” Price says, adding that on your deathbed, you won’t wish you’d spent more time on your phone.

screen time

Catherine Price. Photograph by Colin Lenton

Make a list of the apps you enjoy, and stick to those.

Hate Twitter, but love that app that’s teaching you Mandarin? Improving your relationship with your phone involves choosing to indulge in the things you like about it and losing the things you don’t.

Get a hobby.

When we find ourselves flush with free time, the first thing we reach for is the phone. Leave something you enjoy lying around — knitting needles, say, or a musical instrument — so when you have an impulse to fill time, your go-to activity is off-screen.

Interrupt your impulses.

Putting something like a rubber band around your phone can help you recognize what’s happening when you pick it up without realizing it. Changing your lock screen to ask, “Are you sure you need your phone right now?” might help, too.

Practice separation.

Take trial runs of leaving your phone at home. It’s a metal brick with no feelings; it won’t whine and bark when the door closes behind you. That feature will be on the next update.

Published as a part of the “Jump-Start Your New Year” article in the January 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.