How I broke my phone addiction

How to break your phone addiction

Do any of these three, very sad scenarios sound familiar?

1. It was a perfect day outside and I planned to go for a walk.

2. I needed baby spinach and avocado and had two hours to get them before the grocery store closed.

3. I got invited to a party where friends I never get to see would all be hanging out.

Well, in my case, I never went for my walk, I missed the window to buy ingredients for dinner and ordered something unhealthy instead, and I never made it out to the party. (I didn’t even shower and try to get ready!) And all because I stayed on my couch hooked to my phone. Thankfully, these three episodes didn’t all happen in the course of one weekend, but they easily could have because…well…I am addicted to my phone.

How phone addiction happens

For some of us, it’s the lure of social media that makes our devices so irresistible. For others, it’s games or apps or scrolling through the news or looking through old pictures or googling random things like the cast of My Best Friend’s Wedding. (Did you know Paul Giamatti has a cameo?!)

Whatever the reasons, we probably all know the feeling of standing up sore and in a haze when our phones are out of power and lamenting that we’ve missed an entire afternoon, day, night, or opportunity to do something else. But then we do it again. And again and again. (Or at least I did.)

The truth is that smartphones are designed to be addictive. The lights, the colors, the buzzing, the reminders and urgent-seeming notifications, all of which come at a great cost. Technology overuse is sapping our collective attention spans and lowering our happiness levels.

Use grayscale to break the cycle

One day I knew I had to make a change. Feeling lazy, I had passed up an opportunity to go to a baseball game with friends and ended up following the entire game anyway as I scrolled through Twitter. It had been an exciting game and I had missed the entire thing. Later, I saw the evidence of my friends having a blast there on Instagram and I felt complete regret.

More than just a digital vacation, I committed myself to the actual changing of a bad, destructive habit. I didn’t want to throw my phone away; I also didn’t want to delete a bunch of apps just to re-install them later. Instead, I wanted to remove those fleeting surges of joy that our phones are designed to deliver. So I turned my screen to grayscale.

Grayscale turns all those bright little itches to scratch on your screen into totally unremarkable, colorless items. And you’ll notice the difference right away. Got a text? You’ll check it later. Suddenly that long and often infuriating Facebook feed won’t seem like must-read news. Those jealousy-inducing dinners on Instagram will actually just seem kind of boring. Though I struggled at first, after a week of grayscale, I never looked back.

Instructions are easy to find online for any device, but here’s how I did it on my iPhone: Settings → General → Accessibility → Display Accommodations → Color Filters → Gray Scale

Of course, you can always switch back to color and you can even set your home button to toggle back and forth between the two settings, but you might not ever want to.

But try it! And thank me when you get back from your walk.


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