Struggling to Put Down Your Phone? 3 Tips to Help Establish Healthier Phone Habits

I do it. I’m sure you do, too. That thing where we pick up our phone to check one thing and suddenly 20 minutes have disappeared and you haven’t done the thing you picked up your phone to do.


In today’s post, I want to share some of the things I’ve done to help me develop a healthier relationship with my phone. While I still occasionally end up down the rabbit hole of infinite scrolling, with these tips in place, the times at which they occur do not disrupt my mornings or evenings – the two most important times of day (in my opinion). If you’re looking to curb the amount of stress you feel in your days, the tips in today’s post will help you create a little more structure around your phone habits to prevent your phone from adding to your stress.

Let’s dive in.

1. Break the cue

According to James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits*,” habits follow a four-step pattern that begins with the cue.

Let’s assume you want to spend less time on social media (it’s probably safe to assume that most of us want to scroll less).

Simply seeing the app that you want to use will trigger your craving to open it and see what your friends are up to and check whatever messages, likes, or comments you have.

How do you break this habit? One method could be to use Apple’s ScreenTime Downtime feature to block app use during certain hours.

As you can see, my Downtime is scheduled during the week from 9:30 pm until 8:45 am. Most of my apps are locked up during these hours. On Sundays, my Downtime lasts all day because Sundays are my “social media break” days.

Also, take this into consideration when it comes to your phone habits: when social media notifications are turned on, your cue could simply be the sound your phone makes when the notification goes off. That would disrupt your thoughts and prompt you to pick up your phone to see what the notification is about, which could lead you to open the app and get sucked down the rabbit hole.

A way to break that cue would be to use the Do Not Disturb feature during times you prefer not to be interrupted with notification sounds.

For example, I don’t want notifications after 7:30 pm or before 7:45 am.

Do Not Disturb doesn’t block the app from use like Downtime. Instead, it simply doesn’t notify you of any notifications associated with any of your apps.

*This link is an Amazon affiliate link. Read my affiliate disclaimer here.

2. Turn off app notifications

Alternatively, you could simply turn off notifications for just the apps you never want to be notified about. I have all my social media and email app notifications off at all times. This helps me to only check those apps when it’s best for me, not when the app cues me to do so.

Turning off your app notifications is a great strategy for helping you create a healthier relationship with apps that you’re trying to spend less time in.

3. Set app time limits

If you struggle with staying on a particular app for too long (you get lost in the scroll), using Screen Time features to set a daily time limit could help.

For example, say you don’t want to browse Instagram longer than 1 hour per day. Set the limit and your phone will keep track of how long you spend and notify you when you have 5 minutes left for the day. After that, it will pop up a times up notification.

Or, say, you only want to get on the app in 15-minute bursts of time. You can set a 15-minute limit and once it’s reached, you’ll be notified. The next time you open the app, it will tell you you’ve reached your limit, but just click “Remind me in 15 minutes” and you’ll get another burst of time to browse.

You’d be surprised at how fast 15 minutes goes.

Final thoughts

By using my iPhone’s settings, I’ve been able to create less stressful mornings and evenings for myself.

Here are the tips again to review:

  1. Break the cue by setting downtime hours to block apps and use do not disturb to temporarily turn off notifications.
  2. Do not allow notifications for apps that you’re trying to limit usage. Go into settings and turn off app notifications.
  3. Set app time limits using Screen Time. Once you reach your daily limit, you’ll be blocked out for the rest of the day.

Ideally, your phone shouldn’t be a source of stress for you. These tips really help me prevent myself from getting overwhelmed with information early in the morning or before bedtime. And by having my app notifications turned off for things like social media and email, I don’t get pulled into those apps until I’m ready to hop into them.

I hope you found these phone tips helpful to you in your journey to creating a calmer life.

Is there a phone tip you would like to share that helps you? Drop a comment below or DM me @mastermomstress and I’ll share your tip with our community in my stories.

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