iPhone addiction: Breaking the habit and owning the day

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Show notes:

6 months ago I installed an app on my iPhone called Moment, and now I have 6 months of data on how I use my iPhone.

The data is staggering, and I’ve got a problem. A habit to break.

Find out how long I’m using my iPhone for and how I plan to redirect that time to better and more meaningful things.




Full Transcription

When was the last time you truly looked at how much time you were spending on your mobile phone and what apps you were using? I did this six months ago. I installed an app called moment on my iPhone, I also installed it on my iPad, and I also installed RescueTime onto my MacBook as well. I’ll talk to you about that later on, but the information that I got, the data that I got from that was staggering, right? It blew me away and I want to talk a little bit about this iPhone edition I had or I have. I’m still dealing with and still trying to find solutions, but really one of the biggest excuses that we give for most things is time right?

We always say things like, “I just don’t have the time to do that,” and about six months ago, this goes back to December for me, December 2017. I read a book called Work Less Make More by James Schramko and it really inspired me to think about where am I spending my time. Am I doing the most effective things with my time? Am I using my time in the most effective way for my life, for my business. Am I doing the right things? So, at the time I installed RescueTime on the computer, on the laptop and I installed Moment, an app for the iPad and on the iPhone. And at the time I never really did much with it. I thought, the best thing for me to do is to collect some data, get some averages, have a look at what I was doing, but I knew that I had a bad habit, right? I have this habit of picking up my phone all the time, right? That I’m just constantly checking my phone. So, I wanted to find a way to break this habit. I needed to find out what I needed to change and like I said, I don’t think you truly know how much time you’re spending on your phone unless you’re going to measure it in some way. And I think, for me, certainly the data blew me away.

So, I’m going to share with you my current averages with the iPhone, how often I’m using it, and how many times I’m picking it up a day. But, I also want to just share with you why I feel this is important. This isn’t just about content marketing and finding time. This is about breaking a habit and it’s about trying to live a better life and try to be a better person as well. A big part of this was inspired by me, not only by James Schramko, but also by Ryan Holiday and I’ve been reading a lot and hopefully will share with you on the podcasts as time goes on about what I’m learning from reading from the stoics.

And Ryan Holiday is, I guess, popularising that for the modern time and one of his articles is called 13 Life Changing Habits To Try And Do Everyday, and I’ll link to this, in fact I’ll link to everything in the short notes for you so you can go and check this out. But, if you just search for Thirteen Life Changing Habits Ryan Holiday you’ll see what I’m talking about. And I read this maybe a couple of months ago or a couple of weeks ago, I can’t remember. Recently, very much recently, I even printed it off. I started taking notes on it, I wrote post it notes, put them on my wall, etc. One of the things that definitely is a big part of my personal development at the moment and also bleeds obviously into professional development too is not just learning about something and reading something, but actually taking the action from it and changing my behaviour as a result.

So, there are a couple of things in this article that took me back to December, thinking about the last six months. So, here’s two or three things that I took from the article that I’ve learned are really important for me going forward.

Number one is to do deep work. So, finding time for deep work is really important for me especially, and for all of us actually do to two, or three, or four hours on a single piece of work to move that needle to move forward. But, very difficult to do in an age where we are continually distracted by things like notifications and our mobile devices, right? So, that was one thing, I was like I definitely need to carve out more time for deep work. I was good at that in the past and for some reason over the last couple of years that’s definitely slipped.

Number two I need to make better use of my idle time. So, Ryan says in the article there’s too much decking around going on and that’s totally true, right? So, for example, you arrive early for a meeting, what’s the first thing you do? You take your phone out of your pocket and you start messing around on Instagram, Facebook, you check your emails, you’re doing nothing, you’re just burning time, your killing time. And one of the things I want to do is to be able to use those minutes better and I’ll share some ideas with you on what I’m planning to do for that further on in the podcast.

And finally, the third thing was finding a way to connect with something bigger. In fact, all thirteen things on the article all require time and coming back to James Schramko’s point as well, where should that time be spent and burning idle time on the phone was definitely not where I want to be spending my time. So, the last thing here which is kind of the big picture is finding a way to connect with something bigger. So, things like embracing time for quiet, like true quiet, no phone, no devices, just you, maybe your. Like for me recently with the good weather that’s been out in the back garden in the evening just spending time in the garden. It’s quiet, the birds are out, the sky is blue, it’s just a really nice quiet time for me. I don’t have my phone with me. I don’t have any notifications. So, embracing that quiet time, looking up to the sky, you know it sounds all airy-fairy but just taking that break, thinking about how tiny you are in the world. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about that, just thinking about how small you are.

Ryan says in the article, another way to do that is to go to the top of a high rise building, and look down, and just see all the people, right? So finding that way to connect with something bigger. So, in short, there are so many more important things to do everyday than just checking my phone every two minutes. It’s almost literally every two minutes and it was clear to me, even six months ago that something dramatic needed to change to allow me to start to have better days. So, to deep work, to write more, to journal, to think, to spend time with my family, to connect with the important people in my life. To have, just to focus on owning the day and I think there are, like I said, many reasons why we don’t do things and one of those things is because we don’t have time to do those things that we know that are important. So, my challenge to you and obviously to me right now is do you know how much time you are wasting everyday and specifically on your iPhone?

So, my philosophy here isn’t to go from having relatively average days to having the best days I can overnight. So, it’s not about reading for example, Ryan Holiday’s article or reading James Schramko’s book and going from where I am right now to being a master at it the next day. Back to what I said earlier, this is about behavioural change. So, for me it’s about dealing with one thing at a time until I feel like I’ve nailed it. So, right now, we’re talking about the iPhone habit. So, how do I change that one single bad habit. How do I move the needle in that space and how does that then impact everything else? So, my philosophy is to challenge myself on one thing, deal with that one thing until it’s nailed, and then move on and try and deal with something else. So, one thing at a time. I’m not sure if that is the best way to do it, but for me, I feel like I know what I should be doing everyday, but having thirteen things to change at once just seems like overwhelming. So, the best thing to do I feel is to break that down and do one thing.

So, here’s the data from my phone over six months, right? So, six months of using the Moment app on my iPhone, I was, on average, using my phone four hours in any one day. So, four hours a day and on average one hundred or more pick ups in a day. So, that mean’s I’m picking up my phone and turning it on one hundred times in a day and using it for four hours. So, when we break that down, I’m awake for sixteen hours in a day. One thing that I do get, I’m pretty good at is sleep. I’ve managed to deal with that I think. So, I’m awake for sixteen hours in a day, that means that twenty five percent of my waking day is spent on my phone. That is fifteen minutes in every hour and I’m picking up my phone six to seven times in that hour on average, right? Which is ridiculous. So, for every sixty minutes in the day, fifteen minutes is spent on my iPhone. That needs to change, right?

So, how do we change this? The great thing with the Moment app is that you can set boundaries. You can set restrictions, but what restrictions should I be setting. So, the first thing obviously is clear. Let’s reduce the amount of time that I’m spending on the phone, right? So, I thought right, let’s go from four hours a day to two and a half hours a day, really push myself to only spend two and a half hours everyday on my iPhone. That might still seem like a lot to you, but to go from four to two and a half that seems reasonable and realistic to do that without it breaking me. And obviously, side note, I use my phone a lot for work as well. So, I have to be conscious about what apps I’m using, how long I’m using them for. So, I would rather get to is less pick ups in the day, but more meaningful pick ups.

So, breaking out of that habit of every two minutes or in between tasks the first thing you do is reaching for your phone. If I can break out of the reaching for my phone habit, then that will result in less pick ups in the day and also less time spent on the phone. And that time on my iPhone resulting in more meaningful time. So, perhaps each pick up, I’m spending more time on my phone for each pick up , but it’s spent doing more meaningful tasks. So, that’s the kind of challenge there. So, not only is time reduction important, but actually the number of pickups is probably the most important factor for me.

So, to go from a hundred pick ups in a day to something like fifty or a push goal would be forty. So, forty pick ups a day, picking up my phone forty times in a day, checking it less often, but more meaningful, like deliberate. So, it’s voluntary rather than involuntary. So, right now, like I said, it’s a habit. So, I just pick it up without thinking. I’d rather that was a voluntary habit or a voluntary action, sorry. I’d rather that it was much more voluntary. So, my targets and summary are two and a half hours per day, less than fifty pick ups, but ideally pushing for that goal of forty pick ups. And the objective here of course is to break that habit and to make better use of that idle time, right.

So, what could I do in that idle time? I could read a couple of pages from my book that I’m reading just now. I could connect with my friends and family better. So, for example, who’s in the house just now? Where am I in the world? Could I be speaking to someone in the room? It might involve me using my phone, but at least I’m using it deliberately to pick up my phone and text my grandad, or text my dad, or whoever that might be. Do nothing, spend time, spend that two minutes or that five minutes doing nothing. Looking out the window, looking up the stars, looking up to the sky, thinking about, I don’t know, your life, any ideas that you have, exploring things, just explore that idle time in a different way. I think this could open up so many opportunities for me and potentially for you as well.

And that’s my challenge to you is to think about how much time you are spending on your phone. You can get the Moment app, it’s available for iPhone and for Androids. Get the truth about how much time you’re spending on your phone. How much time, idle time, you’re spending there. What you use it for, what apps you’re using and then look at where you could break a few habits, change your life a little bit, change your behaviour, and then think about how you could use that time for something much more meaningful. So, for you guys that are content marketers, maybe that’s the time you’re looking for to write something to record something, a podcast, a video, maybe that’s that time that you’re looking for to make that happen for you.

I’d love to know what ideas you have on this. Have you had to do this in the past. Have you had to break this iPhone addiction that you’ve had? Have you solved this problem before? I’d love to know if you’ve got your own ideas, your own solutions to this, and I’d also love to hear from you if you have this habit right now and you need to do something about it. So, you can tweet me at @ChrisMarr101 or you can email me chris@cmauk.co.uk you know I’d like to hear from you. If you’ve got any ideas, thoughts, suggestions, bring it on. I’d love to hear from you and I hope you have an amazing day and that you are enjoying the work that you’re doing right now.

Don’t forget to be awesome.