Breaking Free: Overcoming Phone Addiction and Building Intentional Habits

So, I’ve been wrestling with this whole phone addiction habit thing lately. It’s like this magical device that sucks us in, right? Endless scrolling, reading, learning, and even games—it’s a real time-sucker! But hey, I’m on a mission to break free from the phone trap and get stuff done.

Where did all this awareness start? Well, let’s just say having a 12-year-old daughter glued to her phone got me thinking. I found myself repeating the same message—”You’re spending too much time on that thing!” But then I took a hard look at my own phone stats, and it was mind-blowing! Some weeks, I was clocking in at 3.5 hours a day; others, a whopping 6.5 hours. That’s absolutely shocking.

Let’s face it, our phones are incredible gadgets. They offer us a world of entertainment, knowledge, and connection, all at our fingertips. But therein lies the problem—they’re just too darn attractive! It’s so easy to get sucked into endless scrolling, reading, and gaming, all while precious hours slip away. And of course, I get why teenagers are attached like glue. There’s a whole universe in the palm of your hand.

But I knew I had to start with myself first. I realised I needed to control my habits better to set a good example. Plus, as a maternity and newborn photographer, my phone is vital for work – communicating with clients, managing emails, creating reels, and engaging on social platforms. Social media is crucial for visibility, but it can also be a time-sucker if not managed properly.

Graphic title - Overcoming Phone Addiction and Building Intentional Habits

I’ve been on a personal mission to break free from this phone trap and reclaim my focus. Recently, I stumbled upon a masterclass by James Clear, the brilliant mind behind “Atomic Habits.” I’m sure you all know about his bestseller book. The class “Small Habits that Make a Big Impact on Your Life” was a game-changer.

One concept that resonated deeply with me was the idea of getting 1 per cent better every day. It’s about making tiny changes consistently over a broad span of time. Greatness is nothing but consistency. Clear emphasizes the idea that atomic habits, or tiny changes, can compound over time to create significant transformations in one’s life. 1% improvement daily leads to a massive improvement over a year!

Another eye-opener was shifting focus from setting goals to creating systems—a collection of daily habits you follow. It’s like the hidden part of the iceberg that allows you to achieve your goals. As a photographer or entrepreneur, your goal might be attracting more clients, and your system could be your brand appearance, onboarding sequence, social presence, marketing campaigns, and more. By emphasizing the system, you have a better chance of reaching your goals.

The Habit Loop

Clear talk about the habit loop – a neurological pattern consisting of a cue, craving, response and reward. Understanding this loop is crucial for both breaking bad habits and forming good ones.

A cue is the trigger that tells your brain to initiate a habit. So it’s something that gets your attention. For example a phone notification or seeing some biscuits. So your brain makes a prediction of what that cue means.

The craving is the desire or motivation for a particular outcome. So if you had a visual cue and you saw some biscuits, you might think it would be nice and sweet to have them. So the craving will compel you to take an action.

The response is in fact the action based on thatcraving. So you pick the cookie up and take a bite.

The reward is the positive reinforcement or satisfaction that follows. The cookie was really nice indeed making the habit enjoyable and encourage repeated behaviour.

So if the reward is not pleasurable or enjoyable, it’s hard to become a habit.

The 4 Laws of Behaviour Change

Whenever you want to change your behavior, you can simply ask yourself: How can I make it obvious? How can I make it attractive? How can I make it easy? How can I make it satisfying?”

– James Clear
Oct 16, 2018 ATOMIC HABITS

Clear introduces the O.A.E.S. framework for habit formation. Making habits obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying increases the likelihood of success in adopting and maintaining positive behaviours.

  1. Make it Obvious: Make good habits obvious and bad ones invisible. For example, keeping the phone in a separate room reduces its lure.
  2. Make it Attractive: Habits stick when they’re enjoyable or rewarding. This might be a little tricky, considering how enjoyable phone scrolling can be!
  3. Make it Easy: Break tasks into small, manageable steps. Again it could be having the phone away but also it could be replacing what the phone could give so for example knowledge and information. I can listen to a podcast on my computer while I edit or some interesting video.
  4. Make it Satisfying: Celebrate wins, no matter how small.
Overcoming Phone Addiction Habits: photos of women scrolling phones

In the realm of photography, discipline and good habits are essential for consistency. This is especially true as I train beginner photographers learning newborn photography techniques here in London. Resistance is always there in the form of procrastination, self-doubt, criticism, and fear…having a system helps navigate through these challenges. Speaking of procrastination, let’s touch on the power of the 2-Minute Rule. If a habit takes under 2 minutes, do it immediately instead of procrastinating. This helps overcome inertia and build momentum.

I’ve established a morning routine that starts with coffee, a walk to clear and recharge my mind and morning pages.  It’s become a cornerstone of my productivity.

But back to the phone addiction—I’ve found that keeping it in a separate room and silencing non-important notifications makes a huge difference. Also, replacing some evening phone scrolling with reading is a positive change.

Breaking bad habits like phone addiction and forming new ones isn’t easy, but the payoff is worth it.

By reducing mindless phone time and adopting intentional habits, I’ve noticed a positive shift in my creative output and overall well-being.

It’s still a work in progress, but I hope my daughter will eventually notice and mirror these changes.

So, this masterclass inspired me to start new habits, and I hope this blog post inspires you to reclaim your time and focus too.

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

“Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.”

– James Clear
Oct 16, 2018 ATOMIC HABITS

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  • Fadima Mooneira13 May 2024 - 16:25

    Scrolling is one my bad habits. I need to reduce my scrolling time. Thank you for sharing this article. ReplyCancel

    • Valentina13 May 2024 - 16:41

      I know, it was my main time waster. Even if for work I have to use it, it’s so distracting! Thanks for reading.ReplyCancel

  • Fritzie14 May 2024 - 02:07

    I completely understand the struggle with phone addiction. Your tips from ‘Atomic Habits’ are spot-on. I also keep my phone in another room at night and silence notifications for better sleep. It’s small changes like these that add up. Thanks for sharing your insights!ReplyCancel

    • Valentina14 May 2024 - 09:03

      That would be next level. I still have it next to me at night with notification off of course. But I need the alarm, I’m not sure I would hear it from another room! 🙂
      Thanks for readingReplyCancel

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