Phone Freedom – What It Is and How to Get It

A play off the phrase “financial freedom”? Maybe. But there are parallels between the two. Financial freedom means that you have freedom from debt because you are making more money than you spend. You have enough money to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. I would add that financial freedom means that you are not a slave to your job and you are not a slave to money. It serves you, you don’t serve it. That is also how I define “phone freedom”.

Phone freedom means you aren’t a slave to constantly checking your phone, playing phone games, watching movies/shows, and all the other mostly unproductive things we do on our phones – like checking Instagram one-hundred times per day. Phone freedom also means you can use your phone for the meaningful, productive stuff. In another words, your phone doesn’t keep you from living your life (like financial debt might), it enhances your life (like living debt-free). So no, I’m not saying phones, social media, and the rest should be banned! I’m just saying that if we stopped checking our phones hundreds of times per day and using them as an excuse to avoid doing the important stuff, we would be much more productive, and much happier human beings! Now we’ve discussed what phone freedom is, we need to talk about how to get it.

First, we need to figure out WHY we spend so much time on our phones. Let’s explore the cues, cravings, responses, and rewards that make up our phone habits:

Cue: I need to communicate with someone – tell them something or learn something from them. This is a proper cue.
Craving: I want to pick up my phone and read or write something.
Response: I pick up my phone and read or write something.
Reward: Communication Complete

Cue: I need to find out information. This is a proper cue.
Craving: I should google it.
Response: Pick up the phone and search google for the answer.
Reward: Answer to your problem/question.

Cue: I’m tired. I don’t want to figure this out or tackle my to-do list.
Craving: It would be nice to get on my phone for awhile. I deserve a break. Being on my phone will help me feel better.
Response: Open phone, play a game, surf the web, or mindlessly browse social media.
Reward: Forgetting about your problems or to-do list. By getting on your phone, you successfully avoid whatever you were supposed to be doing – probably for a few hours instead of a couple of minutes.

Cue: I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.
Craving: A game on my phone would be fun.
Response: Play a game on my phone.
Reward: Something to do – no longer bored.

So we have the proper cues. And we have the improper cues. What if we changed our responses and our rewards to something more beneficial? And what if we made the improper craving invisible or unappealing? Let’s see how that would look:

Cue: I’m tired. I don’t want to figure this out or tackle my to-do list.
Craving: It would be nice to get on my phone for awhile. I deserve a break.
Response: THIS IS WHERE YOU HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION. Make the unhealthy response to get on your phone as unappealing as possible. Turn your phone all the way off, put it in another room, leave it in your car, or create a long password. You can also get some accountability. My friend and I created a challenge where we are allowed on our phone for no more than two hours per day and if we go above, we have to tell each other. So far, neither of us has gone over. The idea of getting on our phones has become very unappealing. So I’ve created a healthy response. If I need a break, I grab a book and a blanket, hop on the couch, and read for awhile. Or if I’m tired, I take a nap.
Reward: I avoid what I’m doing for a few minutes – at most, for an hour to take a nap. I get the “deserved” break, and I feel a lot better.

Cue: I’m bored. I have nothing to do.
Craving: I’ll just get on my phone for awhile. Again, make this as unappealing as possible! Use the example above. And trust me, without your phone, your responses can and will get very creative.
Response: Go talk to someone in person. Read a book. Clean your room. Study for school. Go for a run or to the gym. Journal. Play with your dog. Drive to the beach. Go for a walk. Learn a new instrument. Check out a new coffee shop. The options are endless. If you don’t have any ideas, do a quick google search for “what to do when you’re bored.” Ideally, make this list before you get bored so you’re prepared and aren’t getting on your phone when you’re bored to figure out what to do when you are bored!
Reward: You are no longer bored! Your brain is well-stimulated – without your phone.

Remember, make the unhealthy cravings and responses unattractive or invisible, and make the healthy cravings and responses as attractive and easy as possible to apply! Enjoy your phone freedom!

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