5 Ways to Kick Your Cell Phone Addiction

My phone is a mini-supercomputer and the most useful thing I own. But I became too attached. Here's how I changed my ways.

Change these 5 habits to help control your digital addictions.

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Bad Habit No. 1: Checking Your Phone Nonstop

This app could save your friendships *and* your attention span. And it's free!

Checky is an app with one simple task: To keep tabs on how often you check your phone throughout the day. Every time you sneak a look when you're at a meal, in a meeting, talking to your mom—the app tracks that. No one can escape the all-seeing eye of Checky. So, I downloaded it.

Day 1: 113 times

This was the proof I needed. The average American checks their phone 46 times a day, and I was approaching triple the normal check rate. The situation was dire! It was time to start resisting what had become a nonstop urge to check in.

Day 2: 56 times

OK, this number is a bit misleading—I kicked off a long weekend by staying up late watching movies, and then slept in, so I kind of gamed the system by sleeping through the early portion of the day. Still, I felt encouraged.

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If you check your phone 95 times in a single day, you need help.

Day 3: 83 times

Reality check. Still way too high, but at least it's a 27% drop-off from day one. I slowly find myself less and less interested in checking my phone.

Day 4: 44 times

This number reinforces a connection I'd already suspected: With less phone check-ins comes an increased sense of calm and, yes, control. And the biggest way I've been able to curb the number of times I look at my phone is through addressing the next bad habit on the list.

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Bad Habit No. 2: Keeping Your Phone Next to Your Bed

Remove your phone from your nightstand.

This is something you hear all the time, and it sounds like it wouldn't make all that much of a difference—but I figured I'd give it a try. Instead of setting my phone on the bedside table at night, I move it into another room, far out of reach.

Morning comes, and instead of fiddling with my phone, I reach for the book that's taken its place on the table. In one sitting, I finish a book I'd spent the last two months reading one page at a time. The longer my phone sits in the other room, the more it fades into memory. Out of sight, out of mind… which leads to our next habit.

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Bad Habit No. 3: Always Putting Your Phone on Display

Put that thing away, you're in public!

It's become commonplace to have your phone out at all times. Moments after sitting down to dinner with friends, the chorus of a handful of phones thumping on the table can be heard. After talking about my phone problem with Sweet's video producer, Michael Russo, he points me to a viral video featuring author Simon Sinek. Sinek says, "If you're sitting at dinner with your friends and you're texting someone who's not there, that's a problem. That's an addiction."

I take this to heart. I meet up with a friend to watch the Knicks the following day, and feel mortified when I notice I've dropped my phone onto the bar. I quickly put it back into my pocket. Conversation ensues, uninterrupted.

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Bad Habit No. 4: Hanging on to Apps You Never Use

Be honest with yourself: do you really still use Groupon on a regular basis? And even if you do, do you really need it sending you alerts?

There is such a thing as digital hoarding—just take a look at your phone (it's OK, not trying to trick you). You're going to find at least a few apps that you never use, and which you've also likely allowed to send you notifications, leaving your phone to ping throughout the day with useless "updates" about nothing at all. Start deleting. And, while you're at it, check the notifications settings on the apps you do use, and make sure you only receive updates that are truly necessary.

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Bad Habit No. 5: Never Giving Your Phone Any Space

A little time apart will do a lot for your relationship with your phone.

"Keys, wallet, phone" is the mantra of the modern era. But do you really need to bring your phone everywhere you go? Start with baby steps—leave it plugged in when you walk into the kitchen to make breakfast or into the living room to watch TV. Then take a deep breath, and leave it at home the next time you run an errand.

You'll be amazed by the fact that you can still figure out where stores are in your neighborhood without the help of Google Maps, and can determine the time by looking at an actual clock—or maybe even the watch on your wrist (a great purchase for those interested in less phone use).

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