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Ask HN: Mobile phone addiction help?
257 points by swen-rekcah 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 253 comments
Hey HN

I’m looking for advice and/or suggestions on how to “lockdown/brick” my mobile (iPhone 8) phone to only be able to do a select number of things.

I currently suffer with OCD and anxiety, and my addictions to my phone is making me lethargic and causing regular migraines and eye strain issues.

I do have a second “dumb phone” (Nokia flip 2720) but due to having a “mobile only” bank account I have to have access to my iPhone.

I only really want to be able to text (not WhatsApp) call, and have access to 3 banking apps. I have tried everything, but when I’m feeling “good” or sometimes when I’m feeling rubbish - I will always end up downloading “scroller” apps - Twitter, Instagram, Shopping apps etc - and I quickly waste days and days hooked to it, before prying myself away from it again.

Any advice would be hugely beneficial.

Thank you

I don't have problems with phones but I have problems with computers - I was usually ended up with HN and YouTube when I tried to learning/writing/programming for side projects.

Then I recall I read from somewhere that Donald Knuth prefers pen and paper to computer. I tried it and it did work for me. I just turn off the computer and use pen and paper/book/printed stuff most of the time. When I have to use the computer I leave the network cable unplugged and finish it quick; When I have to use the internet, I write down what I going to do and do it then turn off the computer; I only check HN or YouTube on meal breaks or before sleep.

I found programming with pen and paper is surprisingly effective, and arguably makes the system better designed. Reading printed code and take notes in diagrams like half a century ago make me understand better (I don't actually print everything, just collect those parts I find important to an editor then print). Turn-on computer on demand feels like going back to the lab from the dorm when the idea struck. All are slower but make steady progress, and it's enjoyable. Much better than time wasted in vain.

As in hindsight, I don't think I'm addicted because I don't have withdrawal symptoms - I don't get uncomfortable when I'm not using a computer or the Internet. It's just those websites are good at grasping my attention. If that's your case, just turn it off or lock your phone away and only get it when you need your online bank. But if you do have withdrawal symptoms, you probably need to ask professionals to address them.

It seems like such an obvious/silly thing, but I have found that having a nice large desk space with a good chair and lighting with no single computing device on it is a pretty powerful thing when you've become addicted that way. At least it's useful as a place to read books and magazines, and to sketch stuff on paper.

For the past 25 years, my best (and often only) desk at home has had an Internet-connected desktop computer with the largest/best screen I could afford placed directly in front of the chair.

I've been trying out different placements for this non-computing desk, but I think the best place may actually be just next to the main "computing" desk. Too far away and I end up not using it that much.

You might also try a monitor arm that allows you to swing your monitor away to the side. Mine is set up so that it swings behind my paper file stand and I hardly feel it's presence when I'm taking pen to paper.

I don't like sitting by the computer, so I usually go on a sofa or somewhere comfy and just stare at the wall until I come up with what exactly I need to program. Sometimes I use pen and paper, or more recently reMarkable. Then I get on the computer and sprint through the implementation and all tests etc. I cannot do that when working in the office - people think I am lazy and don't work. I hate that you are forced to sit by the stupid machine. Since I won't code anything until I know exactly what to do, I tend to just browse stuff on auto-pilot not event thinking what I am looking at the screen. That as well make coworkers think I am lazy. I feel anxious when I think that I may be required to be coming back. I'll definitely quit if they start pushing hard.

I like your idea of offline paper-based programming for side projects and one-man-projects. However it becomes very difficult to do any of that in a group of people in the middle of a pendamic. But will give it a try. Thanks!

Why would it be difficult?

You just use a pen to bring your algorithms or designs on paper. And optional you print out code you are currently working on.

That works when working alone, but also with many people. Because of course in the end - you use the computer to actually type your code in.

Try the Neo Smartpen or Remarkable Tablet. They both let you write and share that. They also both let you present. Those presentations feel magical to do over Zoom.

Can you share your experience presenting with the Remarkable, if you have such an experience?

It actually works quite well as it's advertised. It's a nice place to write notes.

It's a good reader for individual docs and articles. The gesture recognition isn't perfect, but it's not bad. The software is getting better regularly. I tried installing an ereader (koreader? I forget the name) but it needed gestures that were tricky to pull off (for a task switcher).

Is most powerful feature is it's presence. It's just relaxing to look at instead of a screen.

If you're thinking of one, get it for what it's advertised for. If you want an epaper general purpose tablet, get a boox. I went with remarkable because (a) I liked the use case, I've had Android tablets in the past and they suck; and (b) it's open enough that it'll stay usable even if the company stopped caring.

That makes sense but I can understand it being disruptive in group projects because any change to the method effects the whole group. If you're used to remote designing in a group call with Google docs or something, trying to go to pen and paper just wouldn't be possible until everyone was in the same place again.

For single person things though I definitely understand and respect the utility.

TBH I'm not sure if it is a good idea for teams.

For me, the idea of being offline is just a way to:

1. Get away with distractions

2. make side projects enjoyable and avoid burnout because it doesn't feel like another job

3. make steady progress because of 2

Because the major problem for side projects or solo developers is not productivity, it's they either get distracted or burn out then abandon projects.

People who work in teams mostly have fewer of these issues because they are usually being accounted. Plus modern technologies did drastically improved how organizations exchange information, as opposed to pure productivity gain (just try to compare modern organizations with Office-like software and Internet connections, to paper-based government systems a century ago). So you probably need technologies to efficiently exchange information in teams, but not so much as an individual.

This is the exact same problem I have with writing. Whenever I sit down to write - I find that work, notifications, heck the entire machine gets in the way. I've now reverted to pen and paper at least for now. It seems like a great way to get into a flow state - even if antithetical to active changes. At the same time I get to use my fountain pens, so that makes me happy.

I am inclined to agree with the others than a technological solution is not likely what you need. The trick is to segregate these areas mentally, so that you are acutely aware of when you are "on forbidden ground". The "rubber band" trick has been mentioned here already, and it's based on helping to re-enforce that awareness. Technological solutions can help do this. Timer apps that give you a regular notice to "GTFO THE PHONE FOR 15 MIN NOW" for example, are building the same kind of awareness, just as a software tool to do so.

In my case these bad habits predate the iPhone's existence. What we call phone addiction now was the "Internet addiction" of 15 years ago. Some strategies that have helped me, I think:

One: The phone never comes to bed with me. It never comes out in real-life social interactions either.

Two: During the day I keep it physically separate from me if possible. In my drawer at work. Just on the table on the other side of the room here at home right now. Checking it requires physically standing up and walking over. More likely this will percolate up into conscious awareness.

Following from that, stand when you're on the phone. Don't sit down and slump and relax.

Three: Purge all the dopamine-ticklers. In my case, if you'll excuse the bluntness, that means: No Twitter or other clickbait feeds. No outrage-driven news. No porn. No hookup apps. No endless-browsing online shopping.

Hell, even Hacker News warrants some caution. You're just such a rewarding bunch.

And this is not just on the phone. In all of my life. As a general mental cordon sanitaire. I cross into the quarantined zone often, I must admit, but the key is to be aware, to have a niggling sense of unease, when you're in the danger zone. Check your dosimeter regularly and have a planned exit.

>tand when you're on the phone. Don't sit down and slump and relax.

I like this and though I rarely talk on the phone, when I do the vast majority of the time I pace back and forth. Even at the office I’d close the door and do the same. Never thought about these actions at all until now.

Maybe somewhat related growing up my older brother used to do push-ups (usually 20) every time he opened the refrigerator. Watching that day in and day out while he was in high school left a lasting impact on me. No doubt it is odd, but I’d do push ups in all sorts of situations, for example playing disc golf if I had a really bad throw, I’d drop and do push-ups. Maybe something OP could do every time the phone opens, just don’t look at it like a punishment, rather something healthy that helps build discipline and genuine thought to your actions. Plus inevitably it will open the door to openly discussing it with others.

Interrupting the way you flow into the negative activity is a great idea.

I used to spend hours playing two simple online games (Generals and Slither) compulsively, to the detriment of sleep, work, and relationships. Something that weaned me off for a while was going to a conference where I didn't have my regular laptop with me, but a new one; because the laptop felt different, I didn't feel compelled to play, and even when I got back in town, I stayed off the games for a while.

But I started playing again. I realized that playing was just a very very compelling habit, so I beat it with another habit: when I felt the desire, I'd go to one of the games' websites, hit the start button to join a game, then logout immediately and close my browser, multiple times. At first just 5 or 10 times, but sometimes 20 or 30 times in a row in rapid succession, enough times to get really bored doing it.

So my advice, if you can make it work: whenever you think about using one of those sites, go to the website, login, logout immediately, turn off the phone, then turn it back on and repeat. 10-20 times, beyond the point where you get bored. Repeat this daily for at least a week or two.

> No porn. No hookup apps. No endless-browsing online shopping.

But... why even have a phone if you can't buy random shit online?

Honestly, nowadays I only use my phone to call people. I don't use Amazon because I want to be frugal, and online shopping is the antithesis of that.

Any technical advice about how to block yourself is beating around the bush IMO. Not only is it easy to bypass most of that stuff, but you'll be way better off learning how to deal with this psychological issue directly instead of trying to avoid triggering it.

Edit: They are not mutually exclusive by any means, I just mean that you will benefit in the long-run by addressing the psychological problem that leads to this behavior and manifests in this way. It probably manifests in other ways too, outside of phone addiction.

One of the steps for overcoming alcoholism is getting the alcohol out of your house. Phone addiction is the same way, it definitely takes hard work and discipline on the part of the user, but there needs to be a way to get rid of your phone or at least the functionality that makes it addictive, without losing essential utility like keeping in contact with people, or in OP's case a mobile-only bank account

The distracting sites mentioned in the OP exist on desktop as well.

On desktop is much easier to do what OP is asking, a la network tricks mentioned in a sibling comment, editing your computer's hosts file, or other measures.

Browser extensions work well here too.

Gabb just raised $14mm to try and solve this problem

A lot of this behaviour is habit though. Increasing the treshold just a tiny bit might be enough to break the habit could improve his situation. Anecdotally I had some sites I visited out of habit and not because I actually needed to visit them, my simple solution was to block them. This created enough of a treshold to get rid of the habit. Sure I can go and unblock them if I want to, there is nothing preventing me from doing that. It's just that this breaks the habit. At first it frequently happened that I tried to go to the site and it didn't work, but nowadays I simply don't visit them anymore. Everyone is different of course and you have to find what works for you. It's of course not a replacement for real professional help if that's needed.

I see no reason not to combine willpower with psychology tricks. I think of it as playing a game between my rational brain vs limbic system. Yes, my rational brain might be ahead for a while, but limbic system is always there to find me in moment of weakness. So I remove opportunities for it to take control. Turning off PC before work, laptop in the closet, phone across the room, ringer on. Simple and effective.

I have had better luck with physical impedances, and don't bother with tech ones now unless they're simple (uninstalling distracting apps). Like you say most software is easily circumvented.

One could argue that your "rational brain" is in fact an extension of your limbic system for longer timeframes than immediate - I think I heard that line of reasoning in Sapolsky's lectures.

I think this is the balanced and best take.

I agree with you, technical tricks could instead evolve into the person worrying constantly about not looking at their phone. Mindfulness and preparation make this easier, however it is not easy. Personally I deal with this by putting the phone down, using DND mode and have most notifications off. That doesn't stop me thinking about 'whats happening on HN' or in the news or on social media. It's a constant process that needs work. I'm not an expert so I won't pretend to know any more than this but I have also recently started telling myself that there isn't anything important that can't wait.

Agreed. I would suggest OP speak to a licensed mental health professional about this. Blocking access to most of the phone is treating the symptoms, not the underlying issue.

Of course, some technical countermeasures to block some access might be a (short-term?) part of the treatment.

Another short-term option: switch bank accounts so you can access it from your laptop, and ditch the iPhone entirely.

I managed to get rid of multiple unhealthy online habits like excessive reddit browsing using very simple network blocks. They help a lot even though I am able to trivially circumvent them.

Is it possible to edit hosts file on iPhone?

You can run dnsmasq and point your phone to it. Then block whatever you want.

Run it where?

I currently run it on a little raspberry pi sitting in a closet. Every device in my home points to it, allowing me to filter out undesirable stuff (mostly ads) from one place. Doesn't help you when you're out and about on your cell data plan though.

This is the correct advice. I hate hearing it but its true :)

~The Triple Ziploc Bag method.~

I dedicate a few days a month to being absolutely phone-free. The key point is I'm allowed to use Reddit/IG but I have to use a laptop/desktop to access them. This method requires a key ingredient: three ziploc bags.

I wrap both my work phone (when not oncall) and my personal phone in three nested ziploc bags and put them in a drawer. This acts as a great deterrent most of the time.

I've started doing this on/off since last December. Each month I aim to have at least like 6+ completely phone free days. This isn't to say I still don't have bad days where I'm completely addicted to my phone, but overall I feel so much better with this habit.

My therapist who deals with other software engineers has mentioned me as a positive case study for people with similar problems :)

Can recommend something like this. You can even buy something with a timerlock. Atomic habits (book) gives this advice. The idea is that “bad” behavior shouldn’t be super easy.

I have a small cupboard with a key lock where I put some of the chocolates. Not saying I can’t have any, but walk around the house to get the key gives me enough time for meditation to ask myself Am I hungry, or do I really want some chocolate.

I give my key to my wife, who is tolerant enough to act as my gatekeeper and only gives it to me once a week. Pretty lame but it seems to work.

Can you elaborate why ziploc bags specifically and why three?

I assume ziplocs because you still can see the screen and probably could even interact with it, but not easily.

Then three, because if you really need the phone right now, you could rip it open, just not easily.

Are my guesses right?

Probably by the time you've opened two you're reminded about the purpose of the bags in the first place which might serve as an autopilot interrupt

Yes, autopilot interrupt, and initially as a shame factor - shaming myself not to go through with it and stick out the rest of the day phone-free. However, now this is more of a mental block since once I decide to have a phone-free day the bags are mainly symbolic.

> I will always end up downloading “scroller” apps - Twitter, Instagram

Start reading the journals of the ACM and IEEE:



Afterwards, branch out into other fields and read their journals.

Lastly, realize that nearly all of the information on Twitter, Instagram, HN and most of the web is of low quality and should be avoided.

This is quality advice! ;)

Turn on the system-wide parental controls and have someone else set the password. You can set time limits for apps (x mins per day), designated hours for apps (only between 6-8p), and block apps outright.

If you live with someone who can be your password-holder, this is easy with little downside. If you don't, you need to think about the possibility of emergency use of the phone. But I think it will let you call 911 at any time of day regardless of parental controls.

One thing I will note from when I set this up years ago for a friend's family: there aren't persistent preferences, and once you disable parental controls (even just for a minute), you have to re-enable every single control manually. This may well have changed in the last 5 years though — I certainly hope so!

I spent a while on this path - removing apps, hiding others, setting personal time limits or other restrictions on my phone usage. At each step on the way, all I learned is that I need to go further. Short of getting rid of your smartphone (which I have now done), the most effective thing I found was to make sure you put your phone in some fixed place in the house where you won't typically look at it (a shelf in the kitchen, in my case), ideally with it turned off. Even then, I would find after a few days that my phone was back in my hand and I had been wasting a lot of time on it.

There are no easy answers, sorry. You'll always find a way around any lockdown you do.

I have an acquaintance that has a time-locked box he puts his phone in. I thought it was a novel solution to the problem.

A similar alternative would be to place it somewhere where a notable effort would be required to fetch it, like traveling half an hour to a weekend house.

All these things could give just the right amount of challenge and time so that the urge to scroll could transition into rational thinking.

I find temptation passes within five-ish minutes, and if I can circumvent that temptation for the minimum period of time I'm clear of acting on the temptation.

"Barrier to access" has been a successful means of avoidance for me.

One thing that helps for me is to reduce the supply of information. I disabled as many feeds and suggestions as possible, if necessary with ad blockers. My Facebook and LinkedIn feeds are literally empty. I've been aggressively cutting notifications and incoming emails from all sources. I also interact far less on social media, so I rarely get pulled back in. I have fewer and fewer ways to kill time online.

On the phone itself, all notifications are off except for instant messages. I don't have any social media apps, only utilities. There's nothing to do on my phone anymore.

I found that MacOS' screen time notification is a great incentive to step away from the computer. My average screen time is a few hours less than it was a few weeks ago.

You should also pay attention to what triggers a look at your phone and work on that. Learning to fight the muscle reflex os important too.

A lot of folks are saying a technical solution isn’t the answer, but I’d say it’s a core part of getting to the next stage.

I’d recommend reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits to get a high-level view of what your body/mind is doing when you reach for certain apps/impulses.

Personally, I’ve found that installing blockers like Freedom and setting up timed schedules has significantly increase my productivity and cut back on wasted device time. Fwiw, the “fun” parts of the internet turn off at 10pm and don’t go back on until noon the next day.

You can also set a timed block at the router level, set a password for the setting via a password manager, give the password to a friend, and then delete it from your manager.

I find by simply removing the easy option to engage, the impulse to do so significantly diminishes. It’s only after you’ve felt what that diminished impulse is like and see the effects on productivity that you can then take bigger steps to change your habits.

So, I’m a big advocate for technical solutions because they help reduce need for self control / impulse control by removing the option on a schedule you define when you are your “best” or “most optimistic” self. (Yes, they can be circumvented, but you can also make that significantly onerous as to be usefully frictive.)

> due to having a “mobile only” bank account I have to have access to my iPhone.

If using your iPhone is a problem for you (and it seems it is), having an account that requires it is a negative. Drop that account and use an account that works with you.

Try keeping track of transactions and balances in a paper register, and reduce checking the online account or phone banking to once a week. In the old days, people would reconcile their account with a paper statement once a month, and that was usually good enough.

The rubber band trick [1] really helped me. Took my unlocks-per-day from ~100 to ~20. I took it off after about 2 weeks and it's more or less stayed that way.

1: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/mo...

For others reading, the rubber band trick is just putting a rubber band around the device to make you think about it.

I thought it was going to be classically condition yourself by snapping yourself in the wrist with a rubber band every time you use your phone.

You can use Screen Time to prevent yourself from installing new apps. First, delete all applications aside from your banking apps. Next, go to Settings - Screen Time - Content and Privacy Restrictions - iTunes & App Store Purchases. From here, you can disable installing apps, which hides the App Store on your phone. You can also disable Safari from Screen Time. If you find yourself turning off Screen Time, have somebody else set a four digit passcode for you. You'll be left with a phone that can only text and bank.

Thanks for the suggestion re:screen time - I have attempted this multiple times, and even got my partner to set the passcode. However I just bypass it and reset it via forgot passcode and my Apple ID password

Perhaps you could have your partner set your Apple ID password? Or you could change it to a very long string that is a pain to enter, write it down, and store it in a place where it is mildly inconvenient to access.

When they set up screen time passcode, have them enter their apple id and password. Then you will not be able to reset it with yours.

I have locked down one of my phones this way and it's working really nice.

Here's what happened to me. I dropped my phone at the bank, and it completely broke. The time to get a replacement was so long (2 weeks) I had to come up with another solution. So now I have a google voice number, already synced with my google contacts. I can access the calls, voicemails, and texts on my computer. I have a gps app on my tablet. The only thing I'm missing is a prepaid tracphone in case I need to dial 911.

It's not modern by any means, but do I -really- need 4G and calling where ever I go?

Probably actually, this shit sucks.

I've suffered from similar problems (anxiety/ADHD/compulsive behavior). Definitely had endless scrolling mess with my sleep and exacerbate mental health issues. I've tried Apple's Screen Time feature, but found it far to easy to bybass. Until they fix that, here's the system that's worked consistently, if imperfectly, for me:

1. Download Apple Configurator and put the phone in supervised mode. This will require you to wipe the phone, so make sure you have contacts, photos, etc backed up. Configurator will allow you to block apps you couldn't otherwise delete like Safari and the App Store. 2. Create a profile on Configurator and whitelist the websites you are allowed to visit. For me, this is mostly just login pages for various apps that use a webview for sign in. 3. Install Focus (heyfocus.com) on your mac. It'll take some tweaking to get the settings right, but it'll allow you to set up a scheduled blocker for various apps/websites. I have the Configurator app blocked during all but a short window at the beginning and end of the day.

This has allowed me to pare my phone down to the essentials. It's annoying from time to time, but it leaves an escape hatch for situations where I've needed more capability on my phone. Been using this for about three years and it's mostly worked.

Thank you! This looks really helpful! I will definitely look into this immediately

This is what works for me to cut down on phone time when I get tired of it:

turn off/mute ALL notifications that aren't absolutely critical, crank up your notification/ringtone volume, keep your phone somewhere out of the way but within earshot like next to your front door or in the bathroom, and find other things to play with. Buy an instrument, video games, books, movies, whatever. When you get bored, you need something ready to play with or else you're going to just walk over to your phone

We get addicted to shallow things like phones when we don't have something better to keep our attention. Find something better that you have real fun with, not something that just kills time

Definitely NOT video games. If OP wants to replace staring at phone it needs to be something that will not constantly reward him.

Games, phones, social media are extremely addictive as they give us constant rewards. Reading an actual book becomes boring. I suffered from the same problem with games. I had to uninstall games and completely stop playing for a week or two before I had an itch to do something else like reading a book or studying. It is insanely scary, and for me it was bad. Even to a point that I would say that it is an addiction.

> video games

I'm curious why switching from scrolling Instagram/communicating with friends on WhatsApp should be "frowned upon" (this is what comes to my mind personally when I hear the words "phone addiction) if the alternative is to trade it with something even more hyper-stimulating, like a video game.

If the post this week is "how can I be less addicted to my phone", and you replace your phone with video games, won't the post next week just be "how can I be less addicted to video games"?

I think that generally, you "get" more out of playing videogames than doomscrolling on Twitter, or mindlessly watching your YouTube recommendations. Can depend on the game for sure, but video games usually have some artistic merit and require your actual focus and attention, rather than allowing to be completely braindead. They might not be a "productive" use of your time, but at least it's more intellectually stimulating than some of the stuff we do online.

Although, if you're spending most of your time actually interacting with people, especially friends, then I think it's much less of a waste of your time.

If one addiction is bad enough, using something less addicting to break the cycle can be effective. If, for example, an hour of video games a day breaks a dopamine chain that keeps an hour a day of phone time from turning into four hours a day, it's still a net positive.

That's assuming they find games hyper-stimulating. Personally I can count the number of hours I spent last month playing video games on one finger - even though I used to play 30+ hours of video games a week in school - because it doesn't reward the long term investment circuit anymore. HN on the other hand? That's "career development."

Ive been running DND mode (Do Not Disturb) 24/7 for the last few years, and it works well. No calls, texts, notifications, nothing. Helps me to use the device on my own terms rather than in response to someone else.

Can't recommend this highly enough! The only calls and texts that break through are from contacts; the only notifications that require my attention are from apps I explicitly allowed to do so.

From time to time I expect calls from unknown numbers (e.g. recruiters) and have to disable DnD mode - it's just unbearable how much crap starts demanding my attention!

Every time I visit my parents and observe their phones, I can't believe how anyone can live with it. All the notifications lighting up your phone every minute, all the dinging and buzzing for your attention. 7 unread messages! 8! Now 10!! Ding ding ding! New reply on your Facebook message! Ding ding! It's like living on the Las Vegas strip. I'd be a basket case if I had to go a day with all those demanding interruptions.

I start going crazy visiting family too. Beeps and boops everywhere: phone notifications and ringing, the washer and dryer play electronic tunes, every external door makes the alarm system make an alert sound when it opens. Kitchen timers and microwaves. A driveway sensor goes off when anything arrives (plus false alarms). Somewhat related: the tv always on, generally including commercials.

Plus my own stuff: the car’s beeps from lock/unlock, opening the door with keys or not putting on the seatbelt fast enough. My phone if I’m on call. My work computer’s email and chat.

My time to shine! I spent 2 - 3 years going back and forth between dumb phones and smartphones with various different measures for the same reasons. Here is my video with my final summations on the topic and how some techniques I’ve found may help you (iOS specific): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-TKgRxdA5o

Feel free to follow me on Twitter too and chat about any questions you have. I’ve been playing around with these sorts of ideas for years and find it really fascinating / interesting. I can also recommend some fantastic books.

One of the most insightful things I found was actually that simply feeling that phone use is bad makes it feel bad and puts you in a bad loop of “I’m so terrible I can’t stop checking my phone etc”. Also when I’m stressed with work, I focus and fixate on how much screen time I have. I would hazard a guess that you have more emotional / other issues that would benefit you to address. For me it was stress with work and feeling like I’m not good enough. Like I said, I’d love to chat to see if I can help.

This comment is on point!

You have to be nicer/kinded to yourself. Life is hard/stressful enough as is.

When you start feeling bad about yourself, as GP said, "I'm so terrible I can't stop checking my phone", you take away hope and you start living only in the "now". "I'm so terrible" is a gross overgeneralization that puts your mood and increases your need to feel good via the addictive behaviors. Compare that to thinking: "I know I'm having a hard time stopping checking my phone, but maybe today I can do a little less of it."

The thing that keeps addiction going is hopelessness.

Treating addiction as disease (like AA does) is simply WRONG. It is actively harmful to recovery. It renders you hopeless ("I have no control over my disease").

Side note: The Secret is actually a great book who’s message on positive thinking has all but dispelled my negative talk about my work and habits and simply just made life feel much easier. It’s totally whacky but I just kind of love it !

What books would you recommend? Have similar not good enough feelings towards work.

Just generally positive thinking. If you're in your head, you're dead. I really enjoyed "The Secret" for this sort of mindset. It's a bit mad but the core message I think is great!

I feel like telling a phone addict to meet you on YouTube and Twitter to chat is like inviting an alcoholic to a bar to discuss their drinking problem.

I know, the irony is what makes it so naughty and exciting !

I found the below extremely effective at curbing addictive behaviors myself.

Find somebody you trust and have them password-protect your Screen Time settings and lock them down. Uninstall anything you don't want distracting you. Disable literally everything except the banking apps, texting and calling.

If you really need to get into your phone for whatever reason, there's a feature that allows you to request time.

You can also always wipe the phone using any computer with MacOS on it (or just take it to an Apple Store) if things become desperate.

DO NOT click the button that prompts you to persist your Screen Time settings to iCloud--that crap is nearly impossible to get rid of, and you'll be stuck creating a new iCloud account if your friend disappears for whatever reason.

If you can't do the above for whatever reason, then I'd suggest changing your banking memberships so that you no longer depend on phone apps. If you're really serious about solving your problems then you'll need to be ready to do "whatever it takes."

Something that worked for me: I bought an Onyx Boox Note, which runs most Android apps. I installed all of my news and social apps on that, and uninstalled them from my phone. When I want to consume content for entertainment, I use that. The e ink screen adds enough friction and takes away some of the stimulation, so it's far less addictive. My phone use has dropped to about 1 hour a day, just for necessary messaging, banks, maps, etc. My e ink tablet usage is probably 2 hours a day or less.

This doesn't really prevent re-installing scroller apps. But if your phone is in your hand less often, and you have another way to check those apps from time to time, you won't have as much temptation to fight.

I also leave my phone around the house instead of in my pocket. I put it on the table, or leave it on a shelf, etc, and forget about it. I also recommend going for a walk every once in awhile and leaving your phone at home.

I have been considering this as well, as I was looking at ReMarkable and other e-ink options.

Having a big-screen phone with a quad-core processor or whatever makes reaching for distractions too easy. Unfortunately I still need to keep a phone around for taking quick notes.

Yeah, the Onyx Boox Note works well for notes. The reason I didn't get Remarkable is because I wanted access to my cross platform RSS reader and other reading apps.

Do you have a partner who lives with you or someone you trust? You can set up child restrictions on your phone that limits which apps you can use and how often and limits installing new apps, and then let your trusted person set the password and not tell you.

Then if you need to do one of those things, your trusted person can unlock it for you.

I'd say, get professional help.

From what I see, you want a cure all dumb and easy method to stop you from using your phone. Forget it, it's not gonna happen, there is no easy way anymore with the behaviour you are showing: reseting your girlfriend's password on your phone without feeling guilt is just beyond healthy right now.

Even if you somehow switch to another bank with a Web app, you'll probably switch from scrolling tweeter on your phone to scrolling on your laptop.

Get a therapist and talk it out.

1. Settings —> Screen Time —> App Limits 2. Make your App Store/Apple ID password something needlessly complex and give someone else the paper with it on so they need to read it to you over the phone when you need it. 3. Send a screenshot of your app usage to a third party every week and if you exceed limits get them to donate some money you give them to a cause you hate in your name 4. Put your phone on grayscale

Thanks for the suggestion I have turned on the grayscale filter, and I think it may dull my interest in the device re:screen time - I have attempted this multiple times, and even got my partner to set the passcode. However I just bypass it and reset it via forgot passcode and my Apple ID password

If you trust your partner, encourage them to be stricter with you and to further restrict access to your device.

Create a new Apple ID that only they have access to and reset your phone to that ID, then lock it down again. You can also go further with other settings then like using a DNS server that allows you to block the domains of problem sites, stopping you from bypassing the lack of apps with websites.

Also, maybe consider an iPad and throwing away the iPhone. It's bigger and harder to compulsively check and you can't carry it in your pocket. Do your banking on that, bin the iPhone, carry a dumbphone all day instead. If you can break the habit of pulling out your phone to check it you'll gain a bit of breathing space for your compulsions.

I know multiple people with OCD and anxiety. For some, professional treatment and medication works well. For others, the only thing that really works is cognitive behavioural therapy, and finding a system that works for you is going to be trial and error.

Different people might need different medication. While anxiety is usually treated with tranquilizers, there is also a possibility there is an undiagnosed adhd, so stimulants might work better.

Read “digital minimalism” and try a detox using the Screen Time tip mentioned in another comment.

Make it black and white and as uninteresting as possible. Then find something else to do with your time that is actually solid recreation.

I go in cycles on this and tend to flip from the extremes. Recently bought a 12 Pro Max solely for the camera so I would have the best possible iPhone camera to take photos of my family and a bigger screen to access work resources on the go. But it’s leaking into other areas as well. So I’ll just need to do spring cleaning and delete apps soon. I find email and all communications channels get cluttered if you don’t cull them or put guardrails around them.

I’d love to know any other tools people recommend for dealing with this.

Can vouch for the monochromatic UI, a friend put me onto this. More details here: https://betterhumans.pub/how-to-make-your-iphone-black-and-w...

Have also had good experience with deleting apps, which forces you to login to them via the browser, which is a much clunkier / less addictive UI.

Get a new bank. If the bank is a part of a significant problem for your life you should just swap it out for a bank that will let you access your accounts through a browser as needed. Toss your smart phone and only use the dumb phone.

Can you advise a bank account? I have three, currently, and they all require a smartphone to use them. My GitHub account now also requires a smartphone to log in for 2fa, which I was required to setup on my account (they do have SMS functionality, but not in my country). More and more, a smartphone is simply inescapable as a form of identity. It sucks - but the backup form of identity is a phone number, which sucks even more.

> My GitHub account now also requires a smartphone to log in for 2fa

TOTP isn’t exclusive to mobile apps. You can easily use the authenticator from a desktop. Some password managers (eg 1Password) have this built in as well.

Not intending to offend or be offensive, but how do old people bank in your country?

My parents wouldn't be caught dead with a smartphone, but they still need to do banking.

I can't speak for GP but we have mobile-only* banks in my country too. They usually have better interest rates, let you easily pay your bills from the app and let anyone open an account with just an ID. Many traditional banks have a lot of not so easy to meet requirements for opening an account and not so good customer service. Old people still use traditional banks because they are used to them and don't mind waiting 4 or 5 hours in queue for something that only takes 2 minutes on an app or a website.

* To clarify this, I don't mean banks that require a mobile app for TOTP or some sort of security, I mean banks that only let you operate through their mobile app. Their website is usually just a link to the app stores. and some FAQ, they don't have a physical location you can go.

I have only ever used one bank (Wells Fargo) my entire life, so I am not a good candidate to suggest banks. I am satisfied with Wells Fargo though, for what it's worth. I can log in through the browser.

I'm from Europe. There's all kinds is new regulations around 2fa for banking apps that came out last year, logging in seems to absolutely require a phone now, and all my accounts use an app to do it.

Neither of my British accounts require a smartphone to log in, they send an SMS or make a voice call. My Danish account uses either an app or SMS.

You probably can't use a startup bank, as the app is one way they cut costs. Use a boring bank.

Just curious: Doesn't you Danish account still support the little cardboard card with the one-time codes?

Personally I really hate that they want to kill the card, and go to an app model (with the option of a key fob). It's made even worse by the police (and others) pushing the idea that the app is safer. How is it safer to have your two-factor authentication app on the same devices as the apps that need the second factor? Those things should be separate.

You are correct, I can also use the code card of one-use keys.

I was confused by the recent change where online purchases require an SMS or the app, and no longer work with the code card.

I think the app is probably encouraged since it protects against a phishing site like this: hxxp://tilbagebetaling1060dkk.net/1060DKK/ -- but I'm not quite sure how.

SMS as a 2nd factor is ( for a very good reason ) prohibited by dspp2 European directive. You.might have escaped that with brexit though. Even old school banks ( French dude here ) are forced to use apps as 2fa, but my bank for example can provide an hardware token, or a smartcard.

UK here:

Barclays don't require the app. You can still use the website or even telephone banking with a real agent. They do give you the chip and pin reader, the same as the one used in branches which works well.

Santander do seem to use a mobile for 2FA but only to send a text message and you can still use the website.

I rarely have to do more than 1 banking transaction / week so I just use the website, from home. Not too bothered about having another app, especially with access to my bank account.

In case you use macOS and own a M1 mac, check if your bank's 2fa app works on macOS. Your bank can deactivate it but iOS apps default to being runnable under macOS.

2fa through SMS? You don't need a smartphone for that.

I don't know about Ireland, but in Portugal most banks have a Web app and not just a mobile app.

Sorry I should have been clearer - the banking app is Monzo and they don’t have a web app for mobile or desktop

If you're using monzo I'm guessing UK - pretty much all the banks other than monzo, starling, revolut are _fine_

What country are you in? In the US I am beyond happy with Charles Schwab. I’ve been using them for ~10 years and I can’t think of a reason why I would switch.

Ireland. There are strict regulations around 2fa for online banking.

Sorry I should have been clearer - the banking app is Monzo and they don’t have a web app for mobile or desktop

This, 100%.

My dumb method: Physical separation.

I live in my parents home, which is at third floor. I work at their garage, which is not a garage for car, but for bikes. It is at first floor.

When I work, I put my phones at home. When I need to sleep, I put my phones at garage.

I've been using https://www.getintention.com/

It's the only "blocking app" that's been helpful. Some apps do a hard block, but that just tempts you to disable. Some apps add a delay, but it's annoying so I disable it. Instead Intention reminds you of how much time you spent, asks you how much time you want to spend, and regularly reminds you to stop. A soft block, so to speak.

I’ve been down this path multiple times. I bought a Blackberry running android, the tiny screen and super slow place made it the right amount of frustrating, but with the right functionality.

I’ve since shifted back to iPhone since, and my methods still aren’t perfect, but I’ve found a few dirty techniques that work.

1. Turn off notifications. By this time most of us are hardwired to check these things naturally. One day you’ll just forget the mindless stuff exists and it won’t have a way to suck you in.

2. Sitting on the potty, or waking up next to your phone is a time sink for endless browsing (and hemorrhoids), so just keep it far away from you. Forget it. You can even ignore charging your phone at night and wake up at 7%, soo you conserve battery.

3. Disrespect your phone. Don’t adorn it with flashy cases, and personalize it. Keep it stock. Don’t invest time in making it “homely”

4. Over over indulge really fast. Like eating too much chocolate cake in one sitting in 5 minutes. Like Twitter? Click every link and every corner till your head hurts and you feel exhausted.

5. Screen time limits aren’t helpful for me because different content requires different engagement at varying times. In this case, setting aside a time of day to research and read is good.

I’ve been doing more research in the space, but something I’ve been working on in the space for desktop work is Amna (https://www.getamna.com/blog/focus-on-a-task-with-amna/)

Switch banks. Stick to your dumbphone. Problem solved.

Everyone is offering tricks or hacks to help, is simply stopping an option?

I wasn't able to quit smoking until I really decided I wanted to quit and did it cold turkey. Same with both Facebook and reddit. I was blowing hours of my day on reddit. Then I decided I didn't like that for myself and quit cold turkey. It really really sucked at first, but I feel like until you really want to quit, no amount of hacks or tricks is really going to work.

Telling addicts to "simply stop", I believe we (as a society) have already tried that. It doesn't work.

My comment was a suggestion/question, not a one size fits all prescription. There is definitely some nuance you are looking past.

Going cold turkey is a serious approach and for some addictions like smoking the most statistically successful approach to quitting.

S/he is telling addicts to tell themselves to stop.

Indeed, and that's like the one thing addicts usually cannot do, almost by definition. At least that's how it is for me.

The person is claiming to have obsessive compulsive disorder, which can operate a bit different from regular addiction.

That's because this "cannot do" definition of an addict is incorrect/harmful. This is the disease theory of addiction (addicts can't help themselves) and has been proven wrong/harmful in recent psychology.

Sometimes addicts don't actually want to stop. Instead, they just want to slow down or control the thing they are addicted to

Buy a shitty phone. Also, this technique from dealing with cigarette addiction would help: change your brand. If you use iPhone, buy a budget $100 android with the smallest screen possible. If you use Android, buy an old iPhone 5. It'll work for banking apps but should be annoying enough that you won't use it so much.

Next, what is the website/app you most want to quit? Make quitting that your keystone. Fully commit to quitting that one website. For me it was reddit, and I haven't used it once in 4 or 5 months.

Then, uninstall all apps and switch to firefox. Install the leechblock addon, put a delay on all websites you want to stop using.

Bonus: switch to nextdns and block sites at the DNS level.

If any of that sounds like too much work, you need to ask whether you're really serious about tackling your addiction. Are you really serious about this? Yes? Then it's time for serious action. Small actions won't cut it. You need to send your subconscious a clear message that this is important to you.

Also, consider what kind of information you spend time absorbing. You are what you read/watch. Get some books on habit formation, willpower, psychology, read those in your downtime. The Power of Habit and Atomic Habits are great.

Great suggestions here thank you. The anxiety caused by my OCD is so great that I will find my way into my phone, and getting it back to “normal” ASAP - screen time I just reset passcode, or override via ‘forgot passcode’ feature. I’ve used my phone as a crutch for my anxiety for soo long that in times of “need” or even when things are going great and I think I can allow myself a bit of freedom with the device. It always ends up running away from me

It sounds like you need counseling, not iffy technical advice you won't stick to anyway.

That or get rid of your phone entirely. You can change your "mobile only" bank account. That's yet another excuse.

My humble advice for this situation. It might seem over the top. If you think its excessive you likely don't know the scope of how deep the rabbit hole goes. For those trying, don't do this alone. Addiction of any kind is real and you need support. Don't underestimate the need for support from others.


I'm assuming you have the circa 2020 version of the nokia 2720 flip. It has a hotspot. Thats now your mobile internet. And your main phone. Take the sim out of your iphone.

Get a cheap android phone. Don't put a sim in it. Thats now your "serious app only" phone. Set it up to use your nokia's hotspot. No games. Any time you pick up this phone its for serious actions only. Linked to goals or real achievement. Not for instagram etc.

Your iphone is now your distractatron. It has games, instagram, facebook, whatsapp, etc. put a sim card in it with $30 prepaid or whatever amount works. Disable the mobile data in settings. Don't use it for calls unless you must. Its internet should be via wifi or the nokia. Get someone else to check regularly on the prepaid plan. Log all the times you use the credit. You'll forget where the nokia is one day so the iphone still needs a sim. Remember its not for calls for awhile - Don't use it unless you must.

Now you have three devices and you know exactly in a tangible way when you're goofing off. It seems like a lot of effort. Plan better. Schedule. This will be a new experience.

Activate parental controls on all devices.

Don't think that isolating yourself will help with addiction.

Real progress might involve just the nokia but practical considerations will cause you to drift back to the iphone. Obvious cause of drift will be needing navigation because you're lost.

I don't recommend any of this as a permanent situation. Its to clean up and make things obvious as you detox.

I keep work and personal devices separate as much as possible and turn off notifications.

My phone is the one device that “crosses the streams” (I don’t want to carry two phones). As it’s my work phone it only has work apps plus some essentials for when I am out and about (Map, Music, Fitness etc apps).

“Scroller” apps are strictly on my personal tablet which has weekly time reporting turned on.

If I’m using my personal tablet in a way that is causing problems then I either put the tablet out of the way or set a time limit. If it’s really causing problems I’ll ask my partner to enable parental controls or hide it.

You also need professional help if possible. Unfortunately getting help may take some time as support services are overloaded. As an immediate step the Coursera Yale Science of Well Being course is good. Do the workbook and other assignments, especially if they are tough to do at first.

Reading replies I see you are doing CBT and exposure therapy, excellent.

Hopefully you have already discussed this with your professional support team. If you haven’t yet you should, it can be embarrassing but their job is to help you not judge you and at least in my experience sharing a problem helps reduce the burden. Explain to them how it has gotten worse and ask them to help you come up with a plan to work on it with regular check ins.

I had the same problem and I can say: Forget willpower. Assume you don't have it. Read the book Willpower or BJ Fog's work if you want to learn more.

I tried everything I could and would often bypass my own security measures that I had previously created to prevent myself from using those sites/apps. I know, it's ridiculous.

Given that, I was able to create a safe phone. Here is what I did:

1 - Install LineageOS Android. Go to lineageos.org and choose a compatbile phone that you like.

2 - Choose the minimal distribution. No Gmail. No Youtube. I chose the one that comes only with Google Play Store. There is a distribution that doesn't have Google Play and you need to download and install APKs manually.

3 - I rooted my phone so that I could change file /etc/hosts and block sites that I don't want to use. That could be a problem to you because some banking apps don't work in rooted devices, but you may try to unroot after you change /etc/hosts or use Magisk.

With that the only way I know I could access these sites would be installing a VPN or using Tor browser. But then you have some effort and you created a considerable space. And as Victor Frankl said: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

>>my addictions to my phone is making me lethargic and causing regular migraines and eye strain issues

How do you know that? (Find out for yourself, no need to answer). Maybe these effects are being felt as a result of age, diet, environmental conditions, or stress, or exacerbated by these. Or maybe it is the phone. Be open to other possibilities though. Also, your addiction is not "making you" lethargic (or the other things). You are choosing to do these things. Repeatedly. There is a big difference between something else doing the thing (something else has power over you) and you choosing to do the thing (you have power over you). Spoiler alert: you always have all the power.

Sounds like you may need some aim in your life. Goals, directions, hobbies, social circles, but most importantly, meaningful work (whether that's coding/art/rearranging people's bathrooms or whatever it is). Write some goals down. Fail at them (that's likely not optional). Write new goals.

If there are some aspects of life that are challenging for you, then you know exactly what to do to challenge yourself and develop as an individual.

Tips about anxiety (I used to be very socially anxious) - practice being the loudest person in the room often. As much as possible. Everywhere. Especially in trivial places like the gas station and restaurants. Talk to your everyone loudly. Excessively loudly. At least louder than everyone else. Introduce yourself. Get their name. Ask simple questions VERY LOUDLY. This gets much easier the more you do it. Once you practice drawing attention to yourself a good bit, then you can start practicing putting your attention inside yourself instead of on others. Feel your body, your muscles, watch your thoughts, are you cold/hot, etc... these things aren't in your awareness if you're worried about what others are thinking/doing. Have fun with it and it will get more fun.

Don't forget, you can do ENTIRELY new things no matter where you are in your life. You're a human. We are part flexible problem solving mechanisms as a central part of our nature.

A hack that has worked for me is to randomly generate a password and write it down on a piece of paper. Use this pass on your attention-sink websites (for me twitter and ig).

This will make it impossible to login when you aren't home which gradually helps you lessen the habit.

At home, the time to fetch the password is significant enough for me to reconsider the behavior and I'm able to overcome the fleeting urge.

For twitter specifically, Ive replaced the behavior to sometimes checking individual URLs. I've also figured out who I care about (the 4 names I can store in my head!).

I'd say Ive recuperated 95% of my time back using the random written password.

Find something you like doing more than doomscrolling. You probably have no hobbies or creative outlet. Also turn off all notifications so you don't get sucked back in while you're doing other things.

Apple goes out of it's way to make sure no app like this exists in it's App Store. If Screen Time is not good enough, you'll need a physical lock box like a few others have mentioned. Forest is good for helping create good habits though.

On Android, you can use one called AppBlock. This is the most difficult app to circumvent on mobile. Others like Freedom can be easily bypassed.

I sell desktop software (Windows/macOS) that blocks websites/apps so my customers and I have tried lots of solutions but Apple doesn't want to let third party developers compete with Screen Time.

+1 for AppBlock.

There are 3 kinds of apps you need to reduce phone addiction. Listing out examples in Android

1. Apps that Analyze usage - Your hour, Stay free etc. These apps also allow you to specify max number of duration you can use specific app/phone, but this seldom works. The analysis helps you in understanding your usage patterns

2. Apps that block specific apps at specific times in the day - like AppBlock. Based on your usage patterns and work hours, block the most used scrolling apps during your free time. Blocking 100% of the time does not work, allow 30-60min windows where scrolling apps are allowed.

3. Notification managers - like FilterBox - Use Android settings to block notifications for most scrolling apps. Even for essential apps like Gmail/Whatsapp, FilterBox gives you lot of control over when you want to allow/block notifications

> Forest is good for helping create good habits though.

Yeah, it's basically a game where you do better the longer you can keep away from your phone: You set a timer and your virtual tree dies if you use your phone before the timer is up and it can finish growing. Every tree you grow or kill gets added to your virtual forest, so it ends up looking pretty bad if you keep killing them.

I suggested it to a co-worker and he likes it, seems to really work for him.

1. uninstall all apps that aren't essential

2. turn off all notifications

3. use parental control mode to add all the websites that might create a distraction. (this will create some problems, like not being able to login to an app using Facebook Connect, or not being able to search for "hot tubs" through Google, but it's worth it). Do not ever remove websites from this list once setup, and try to add everything on the first pass so you're not comfortable messing around with parental control configuration.

4. [this step is important] forget how to remove parental control

5. meditate daily

Hey there, Thank you so much for sharing this, it's super important to realize how smartphones are impacting us every day and how almost all social media platforms and distracting apps are designed to steal as much of your attention as possible and keep you as hooked as possible.

I'm working on an iOS app called Opal (https://opal.pm/hn) which can help you lock/brick distracting apps on a set timer or all day long in the background while still keeping essential apps like mobile banking active. Think of it as a smarter airplane mode that's designed to help you be more intentional with how you choose to use your phone.

We believe that better and more humane tech is ironically an actual solution to the problem tech has created for all of us. With Opal, it's all about building a healthier relationship with your phone and using everything in limits. It's not about drastically reducing your screen time but you can totally achieve that too if that's what you want to do. We want to make people feel good about the time that they do spend on their screens and not feel guilty that they've spent X hours on their phone this week etc.

I truly believe this can help you get "un-hooked" from apps that are distracting to you and help stop the doomscrolling.

Let me know if you do give it a try as we want to make it work for you and for anyone else in a similar position :)

The thing that helped me quit using my phone as much was to quit using apps where there was a web counterpart available. For instance, I deleted the banking app and only visit the website on my home pc (or browser on phone if really in a pinch, which is rare). I deleted the facebook app and only used the website. I've since deleted the FB account totally. Same with twitter. Just use the website. My "phone" is now only used for phone calls and regular texting. I have a lot more free time and there is a "separation of concerns," to borrow a phrase from the tech industry. I use my computer for computing and my phone for phone calls, like how it used to be before smart phones. This also saved some money as I wasn't using as much "mobile" data, so I lowered the data plan. Also, shut off notices except for phone and texting, maybe email. My phone is relatively quiet now. No constant bleeping and blooping to cause that dopamine rush of "what did I miss out on" and programmatically running to check. Simply, you are addicted to your phone. You need to ween yourself off. Your OCD will likely subside once you've re-programmed yourself not to react to the stimuli. And if I'm out with people, the phone is OFF. They get my attention, not the phone. Now, a lot of the time, I don't even carry my phone with me. There is nothing so important that is happening that can't wait until I get home to check it. It's a gradual process, but the important thing is to start.

I totally support this idea ob substituting apps for web interface counterparts. Me and my friend are both kind of addicted to these scroller things and the only way to secure our selves from wasted time is just deleting the apps. If anyone reading this would think how much time they spend on lets say facebook desktop version, or instagram, this would be a clear choice. Also, having a smart watch is a no-no for these addictions as in your mention for stimuli

If you are addicted to something, almost by definition, you aren't capable of using it in moderation. If you 'lock down' your phone, you will be un 'locking it down' in a day or two. The first step to recovery is almost always to admit this to yourself, that you are helpless to stop engaging in whatever behavior it is the expression of your addiction.

If you are really addicted, the parts of your brain which have become trained to seek reinforcement by phone usage will fight back if you try to get rid of the phone. You'll come up with a thousand reasons why it just doesn't make sense to get rid of it. My advice after you try and fail a few times to cut your phone usage or get rid of your phone: find something heavy and hard, a baggy, and keep them somewhere nearby. Just grab something hard, chuck it in the baggy, and put it in the corner of your desk or whatever. Now, when you have a moment of clarity and realize you can't control your phone usage and are helpless to stop using it, put the phone in the baggy and smash it with the hard/heavy object before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it.

You can always buy another phone in a few months or years or whenever you find you absolutely need one or think you are in a different place and won't get sucked in again. Get rid of the phone.

Best thing I've done for my focus is to use an ungoogled AOSP based ROM like lineageOS. Initially it was for the purpose of maximum privacy, now it stays for the sake of focus and efficiency.

My phone distracted me too much, and I realized that I wasn't able to work concentrated (in the flow) when my phone was lying on the table.

Now I use a google free Android that also uses appwarden, blokada and, osmand+ and other privacy increasing measurements. I now have a perfectly useful tool without any destracting social apps.

The only thing I use regularly is Telegram FOSS (with deactivated notifications, so I decide when to check async messages). Can't use "google-free" signal because it actually still uses google's apis but that's a different story.

What also helped me to get into the working mood was that I also keep track of tiny, little things to do in my projects.

CSS fixes, little website or HTML bugs that are easy to start the day with are an awesome motivator. Then afterwards I start working on the hardcore netsec/debugging related issues, as they need more focussed attention.

If you lack the reward of working, something as simple as a wall with post-it notes containing the tasks at hand can be very helpful. Every time you move the tasks physically to the "done" area it can help increasing the dopamine effect.

All kinds of ways to approach these kinds of things and hard to say what will work well for you, however, my advice is more about making sure the rest of your life has some structure ( I'm not sure what this looks like for you). It's often better if these are things that are on time tables and require a commitment, ideally something quite tactile and social. So, you could do some kind of sport/sport like thing with regular training. Boxing/JiuJitsu or something like Dancing, or less active, you could go to chess club. Or alternatively you could take art classes, something like pottery is quite tactile, but you could do any kind of sculpture, painting, drawing. At home, you could try things like knitting/crochet, speed rubix cubing, juggling, etc. A good mix of things is ideal. The diversity helps with getting a better perspective. Sometimes it can be hard to commit to any of those things (or things like that) as they might not interest you, and you can't think of anything you want to do. In that case, just commit to trying things. Second piece of advice, share the problems you have with other people, it can help with not feeling like this is a problem locked up inside you.

This is not going to be an easy fix but it is possible since phones are just a recent thing we've gotten addicted to.

First, don't blame your bank for the scroller apps. Those are two things that don't relate. You shouldn't need to lock down your phone to stop it.

Start with why. "why do you want to quit or curb your phone use?" I believe you know this answer to this but write it down on a piece of paper. When you do this, your mind will play it back for you from time to time.

You have an iPhone, download a meditation app. Don't sit down like a yogi and meditate, open the meditation app where you scroll on twitter/ig/amazon, whether that's your couch or your bed. Meditate for 3 minutes, that's it, not more for your first time.

The meditation will be really hard the first few times. It will feel silly too. Get an app where they guide you for meditations, e.g. Calm / Headspace (they are free to use for basic meditation).

Your phone is a powerful tool, and just like any tool, it can be use for helping yourself or harming yourself.

I am happy to guide you through more of this, please feel free to reach out to me me at contact@usman.xyz. I've been through this before, I know what it feels like and I can guarantee you that you'll get out of this!

About once a month, I abstain from all electronics (phone, tv, computer, consoles) as well as food for an entire day. This helps me guage what my addiction levels are at, and although it's not typically a pleasant experience, I always feel significantly better the next day - everything just seems better and easier to deal with. For some reason it's easier to abstain completely for a day than it is to only partially limit myself.

Maybe picking up a hobby, outdoor activity, or workout program could help?

Obviously I have no idea about your situation, not whether these are realistic for you, but there are two reasons I’m suggesting these.

1- Exercise has been frequently shown to be as beneficial as medication for anxiety and other problems, and of course it’s harder to use hands for phone stuff while they’re in use doing other things. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-exercise-help-treat-...

2- I personally tried to lose weight all my life and finally figured out that redirecting my activities and mentally recalibrating my expectations was the key to success. I’m speculating maybe the same mentality could help you. Trying to lock down my eating was setting up an impossible expectation to try and control temptations, that shamed any lapses. Realizing that feeling stuffed was bad and that I was supposed to feel less stuffed, and figuring out how to recalibrate made it so much easier to actually do, and even figure out how to allow myself treats and overages while still making progress.

I switched to second-hand Android phone from my Nokia C3 last year, never used a smartphone before that. I struggled a little bit with easy accessibility of browser / telegram / instagram, so I found a way to make a phone a little dumber.

1. Buy an Android phone (you can probably make the same thing on IPhone with jail-break, but I don't have any experience).

2. Remove all social media apps: Instagram / Twitter / whatever app you struggling with.

3. Download adb https://www.xda-developers.com/install-adb-windows-macos-lin... and execute those lines

./adb uninstall --user 0 com.android.chrome

./adb uninstall --user 0 com.android.vending (Google Play Store)

Some functionality in some apps won't be available, if it requires redirect to the browser tab / Google Play Services, but it's a price to pay for having dumb-phone functionality on the smartphone.

You can still install Google Play once in a while to update apps via

./adb install -d --user 0 COM_ANDROID_VENDING_APK_FILE

update/install new apps and then repeat step (3) from above.

I say this honestly without snark.

Visit a library if you can and "waste days" reading books instead. You don't have to borrow the book, just take it off the shelf, read some, and put it back.

I only reacquainted myself with my local library recently, and it is amazing to find a space that provides you with free utility, without any ads and without any attempts to pry money from you.

I have to consciously lower my "cynic/suspicion" filter whenever I get there.

In my opinion, the hard part of habit change isn't discovering the specifics of the changes you need to make in order to alter your habits. The hard part is meta aspect of actually doing the things that you know you need to do for long enough to break your old habits and to form new ones, all while your subconscious mind is longing for the sweet comfort of your old habits! We are masters at fooling ourselves, at talking ourselves into momentary pleasure at the cost of our long-term wellbeing, at repeatedly procrastinating 'just this once' until we completely forget that we were trying to make a change!

In my experience, the solution to this problem is good old-fashioned journaling. Sit down for a few minutes every morning and write down a few words about the change that you want to make and why. That way, every morning you have a chance to re-affirm the importance of this change, and hold yourself accountable for failing or procrastinating. If you're anything like me, as you attempt to change your habits you will fail repeatedly. Your journaling session is a dedicated session during which you can be honest about this failure, consider why you've failed, and to change your approach and to press on toward a better future.

To start, get out a journal (like, right now!), put it in a place where you can't miss it, and commit to writing a single sentence every single day. Don't beat yourself up about failing to execute on your target habit change on a given day, but do commit to never missing a single day of journaling.

If you can pick up the pen once per day, you can get it done.

Also, read Atomic Habits, which is an absolute must-read for folks who want to make changes in their lives.

> read Atomic Habits

Argh. I have this book, but I keep forgetting to read it.

Start by reading a word a day!

I bought a diet-aid box with a timer called "Kitchen Safe". Just dump my phone in it whenever I have the will power, set a timer for a few hours, and turn a moment of motivation into hours of phone-free bliss. The box is designed to shatter if you hit it, so there's no need to worry about losing access in a real emergency but the replacement cost is high enough to not do that everytime reddit beckons.

This ++ ... designed for "cookies" but great for most addictions!


It seems like the phone is at least in part a symptom, not a cause. So I'd suggest, for starters, seeking medical help for your underlying conditions.

That said, since the phone issue may also be causing a feedback loop of anxiety, I'd suggest a few things.

1. Schedule "phone time". Set an alarm for when it's over, and commit to not using it outside of that time.

2. Set "Do Not Disturb" on your phone. At least with Android you can do this just by talking to the phone. Or at the very least set quiet hours for the majority of the day.

Alternatively, (2) may cause more anxiety if you're constantly wondering "but what if" - in which case, perhaps set it to whatever is necessary to hear it, but tell your friends/ family that you're trying to stick to specific hours for phone calls/ texts.

3. Some sort of cognitive behavioral approach. Think about what triggers you looking at your phone, or your anxiety - write this all down. For every trigger, consider what actions you could use to directly address that trigger, in a healthier way. This could be as simple as counting to ten or focusing on your breathing when you feel that anxiety, giving your mind some time to rest.

Consider writing down when you feel that anxiety. Instead of turning to your phone, perhaps just with pen/paper, write down what you were doing, how you're feeling, and how you'll move past those feelings.

4. Log out of accounts. Even just having to log back in can force a pause, and give you a chance to back off. Remove distraction apps entirely. Don't just rely on blocking them or whatever - uninstall them. When you're feeling better, and have healthier habits, you can reintroduce them.

Whenever I find myself sucked into the vortex of neverending scrolling I log out of that website and make is slightly difficult to get back in: I set up multi-factor authentication to increase the friction of logging back in (in addition to keeping the account safe) and prefer mobile websites to apps, as those also require more effort to open compared to one tap on your homescreen.

This has worked spectacularly for me as well. I’ve gone so far as to always log out of a service after logging in. I only use a tool when it’s worth the effort to log in. I’ve also found Firefox focus to be an ideal mobile browser for this kind of approach to using the internet.

At least for Android there a launcher that let's you filter apps. Here is one example: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.beforesoft... Maybe you can achieve something like that on iOS.

Also cognitive behavioral therapy could help you with OCD and anxiety.

Look into setting up your phone in supervised mode. I think you can do it using any Mac. Essentially you can make yourself an 'admin' of your phone that can strip away a lot of functionality. Like you can dictate what apps are installed and other neat things. It will require some digging into Xcode or the iPhone Configurator. I haven't done it myself, but it's an option!

Wired suggested using grayscale mode to help make the phone less engaging. On iOS, I believe you can find it under Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Color Filters.


Seconded. On iPhone 8, you can also set it to enable/disable Color Filters via triple tapping the home button.

For eye strain, use the Reduce White Point setting combined with minimum brightness at night.

You should find a different bank. Being forced to use a particular platform to access your money is absolutely unreasonable and unacceptable. All three US banks[1] I've used don't do this.

Also, as someone prone to this sort of thing it helps to have constructive hobbies that are a bit "mindless." Lego kits are awesome (also great for "lockdown dates.") If you're ok doing them by yourself (because other people are very likely to get bored) Amazon is full of weird raspberry pi/arduino robot kits that take days of work to put together and I can totally recommend that for getting yourself out of a slump (whats best is doing it while in a medium sized discord call, you get to be around people and have some social stimulation while also doing something with your hands.) Surprisingly I've found Factorio can even help get me out of the slump but you should be careful with it since some people report the opposite affect.

[1] Essex, Suntrust, and USAA "FSB."

App-only banks that don't let you access or manage your account on a website on a real computer should be against the law.

Hi. I have the same problem as you. I tried a lot of software on my phone that doesn't let me use Twitter or Reddit, unless I enter some dumb code or something. Most of this software just tracks your time on each app and doesn't forbid you from using it. For example, "Digital Wellbeing" app is a joke. You can disable it anytime it starts running. Some apps, such as Youtube, have the option to remind you that you have been using it for a certain amount of time, like 15 minutes. I wouldn't rely on software to help me on this one.

I ended up buying a kSafe and putting my phone in there for an amount of 12 hours a day. I get my messages and calls on my watch.

If you're using your iPhone you'll end up downloading scroller apps.

I don't have a solution for your mobile bank account.

Don't know about you but I never could stop addicting behaviors without setting goals in other more productive areas in my life.

Set a few worthwhile goals every day that will take the majority of your time, and be sure to complete them before using the phone for entertainment. Then enjoy yourself for the rest of the day.

I often read it's easier to replace an habit by another one than trying to only stop it.

I have a old phone where I can remove the battery.

A) banking app works, but no games etc.

B) browsing for information works, but no fun browsing the clickbait internet

C) removing the battery is an physical act of letting it all go, and a blockade to quickly turn it on again

D) with the battery removed, I know my phone is really off, together with all potential spyware

One thing that has helped me is to ask myself do these things make me happy/feel good? The answer is usually no, and by asking the question, it makes it easier to put down and stay off of it.

Another thing to try is to avoid pulling out your phone when you are idling. Try to get more comfortable being alone with your own thoughts rather than trying to have a constant drip of content from your phone.

It's unfortunate that we've created a world focused on capturing and selling our attention. For example, as various authors have noted, infinite scroll is really more of an antifeature. With traditional paging, people usually only go through the first few pages at most and then stop looking at it. How many people go beyond page 4 of HN? Probably a lot less people than if HN was a single stream of content.

I'll toss my bit of advice into the void too.

One thing that helps me at least is to have different locations for different activities. To have "this desk is my work desk, while I am at it, I work."

I don't think this is the only thing you should do, and obviously not everyone has room in their home/apartment/whatever for a desk & room dedicated just to work... But it can help. Coworking spaces also help a lot with this.

If you don't have room for a second desk, you can get some of the effects by simulating it. Before starting work, specifically get up, walk around the block (your commute), and then when you get to the desk, make a specific change to put it in "work mode".

This might be something like using a different keyboard for work vs not, or switching to a different computer login for the duration of work.

I really like the book "How to Break Up With Your Phone" by Catherine Price [0,1]. It has a 30-day step by step plan to restructure your habits around technology, and I've found it more effective than anything else. I especially like that it is gradual, gentle, and promotes mindfulness rather than trying to force an all-or-nothing approach ("cold turkey").

[0] https://www.amazon.com/How-Break-Up-Your-Phone/dp/039958112X [1] https://www.powells.com/book/how-to-break-up-with-your-phone...

Three hard steps:

1) Remove your twitter, facebook, etc. accounts.

2) Throw the iphone through the window and buy a bad phone that works with your bank (or better, change bank). Silence all alerts except the critical (persons that may need your help urgently and you care, and stuff like that).

With those two you'll end up scrolling through whatsapp profile pictures and stuff like that but that's not going to hook you for more than few minutes, believe me.

3) Find something appealing on the physical world. Something that does not need a mobile phone. It will be hard because, for example playing guitar doesn't have a team of engineers thinking how to make you practice forever, but at some point you'll start getting interested by life again. Program raspberries to turn lights on, or similar, if you definitely need some device.

The problem isn't your phone, the problem is your mind. You're looking for dopamine on your phone. If not your phone you will look for elsewhere (foods, movies etc.)

All those things that engages your senses, tires one down. I'm glad you're at least aware of being tired and want to work on it. The rest of the world are constantly engaging everyday.

Try to sit down calmly outside your balcony for a moment. Observe the surroundings carefully. Try doing this everyday for 15 mins. Just observing silently the nature, the people, etc. Let's finish this and I'll suggest the next steps later.

I ran out of data one time and it put me on 2g speeds, which was great because the bare minimum worked, but browsing the net was painful.

I really wish there was a way to get slow connection sim cards. Anyone know of this? Maybe a cheap MVNO that throttles to keep prices down.

Something that helped me with productivity immensely was going to the doctor. After a long discussion about a variety of issues, I was diagnosed with ADHD, at 31. Sometimes this stuff is a result of a condition that can be managed via medication.

How essential the banking apps are in your everyday life? If you don't need them to be available all the time, maybe you could store your iPhone somewhere behind a time lock and schedule specific times when you deal with your banking needs?

You only need to activate a very limited scope of self-control to improve your current situation.

Don't. Download. Apps.

If you are actually serious about improving your situation, you should be able to self-recognize going to the app store and hitting 'download'. If you find yourself doing that, uninstall the app you just downloaded and put the phone down. It's really that simple.

99% of addictive websites out there will more or less force you to download their app by making the mobile website design incredibly frustrating to use. Use this to your advantage. 5-10 minutes of reddit/twitter a day is fine. But DO NOT DOWNLOAD THE APP

Delete all apps. Put blocker plugins on your browser with a timelimit (e.g. 30min per day). Start reading books and subscribe to a quality newspaper (e.g. The Economist) to get your news. Too much noise on the internet.

Remove the Sim. I dont have a sim in my phone for ~2 years now. (I have one in my router in just in case in need phone number, or use SMS verification services).

As you i need a phone (Google authentificator, Banking apps, Home automation setups). However since its rarely ringing anyway i regularly forget it somewhere around the house. It essentially is now a device i just keep looking for when i need it.

For me personally there is no going back. My smartphone definitly never helped either my mental health nor my feeling of staying in control.

When i go out today, i am offline. And i love it.

If any app makes you feel bad, delete it and remove the stored credentials from your account. It worked really well for me.

Make your phone less useful. I don't have my work e-mail & Slack on my phone. So I can't even check my work calendar on it.

I used to have a few of the social networks apps and lots of utility apps that maybe I would use once a year. So I decided to delete them all.

Now, I only have some of the default Apple apps + WhatsApp, Telegram, Bank, Spotify, Lockwise, Scanner Pro, Google Authenticator, Google Map, and a few utility apps to manage cameras, smart LEDs, and my vacuum robot.

As others have said, iOS has great support for parental controls. Look at the "Screen Time" menu in settings. You can put time limits on apps or block everything but a few apps explicitly. For ultimate enforcement let someone else you trust decide the passcode for you.

You could also block certain services on your whole home network with a DNS filter. This would block anything from using Twitter/Instagram, etc. NextDNS makes this particularly easy. (Though that won't work when using cellular data and is pretty easy to bypass for someone technical)

The problem with Screen Time is that its trivial to get past. Eventually you enter the password enough times and it becomes muscle memory. Having someone else do it and then not tell you the password is the bare minimum.

What worked for me recently is fighting tech with tech. And by that, I mean I got a hand-me-down Apple Watch. It's the Series 3 (low end).

It does enough to keep me connected (SMS, e-mail, music), but the interface isn't all-absorbing like a phone, so I don't waste hours of my life doomscrolling. I end up doing just what's needed and moving on.

Note that if you need cellular connectivity, you'll have to get a used Series 3. Apple no longer makes a Series 3 with a cellular connection. Or you could get a Series 6 or an SE, if that's in your budget.

The only thing that has sort of worked for me so far is a recent program I enrolled in. It does an hr of meditation in the morning and an hr of offline learning in the evening.

Meditation is a pretty good exercise, I think, and it does help in resting your mind.

The sheer difficulty in maintaining focus for those few hours, made me extremely conscious about the continuous distractions and excitement seeking (online) habits that I suffer from.

I feel I am becoming better at self-realizing the problem and self-correcting them nowadays. Not quite great, but better for sure.

In my case, disabling almost all the distracting social media notifications has helped me a great deal. I've long given up on using Instagram, Facebook. I saw Twitter and Reddit used to take up a bulk of my time, so I've removed the apps and I use the browser for these sites. Also, there's the screen time notification which I've set and forgotten the password to. I've so far resisted the urge to reset that password.

I believe at the end of day, just like any other forms of addiction, strong will is what helps us.

I don't know what options are available to you where you live, but in the US there are local credit unions which have banking available via browser portals.

I use a Light Phone II which has a black-and-white e-ink display and no ability to display images or install applications beyond tools that they develop in-house. It's been great.

I, too, have problems with infinite scroll apps. It's been really beneficial to my mental health to ditch the smartphone and delete my twitter/instagram/facebook accounts.

These points should help - 1) Do you have someone near whom you can trust with social passwords? If yes, great. Ask them to change all your passwords and then you get 1 cheat day where the person will enter the password again and delete app(s) at the end of the day.

2) Change color to monochrome in iPhone settings.

3) These things should pretty much sort out. If you are still using browser etc and can’t get rid of the iphone, go buy a basic phone which can run your bare minimum banking apps.

4)For 2FA, use Authy. It does have a desktop app.

Is there someone out there that you trust?

If so, I would consider setting yourself up a Family account and having them set limits for you using Apple's Screen Time.

You can setup hours that you can't use any apps except for emergency and pre-approved apps, you can also set time limits on applications or categories.

Have an agreement in place that you can request changes to the rules, but will always give 3-7 days notice.

As someone who would usually circumvent my own restrictions, I think thats the easiest option available to you today.

Something that helped me was using a ‘time blocking’ system on my calendar to schedule out my day down to 15 minute increments.

I then purposely ‘time block’ in time for when I am allowed to go wild browsing HN, Reddit, etc without feeling any guilt or anxiety whatsoever.

This process can be done digitally or with a printed calendar. I’d suggest the latter given your circumstances.

Lots of good resources out there for how to do time blocking effectively. Cal Newport and Nir Eyal being two that come to mind right away.

If you have a M1 powered mac computer, you can see if your banking app allows you to run things on your Mac.

Another thing I found useful was to Grayscale the app, it puts a damper on any scrolling apps. https://www.wired.com/story/grayscale-ios-android-smartphone....

And if you have a Chromebook, that might be able to run the Android app.

Blocks don't work for me... I just had to stop. One thing that helped was going on walks and just leaving my phone entirely. It felt super weird... But when I would go into town if I didn't need my phone I left it cause I found myself ALWAYS browsing reddit or something even if I had just been on there 30 seconds before.

After a while of leaving my phone behind the urge went away. For technical people I don't think blocks help because you can just get around it easy.

Some HN community member recently plugged his side project in another thread and it seems quite fitting here: https://pausbox.com/

It's a configurable phone enclosure that physically separates you from your phone but lets important calls get through.

There are surely cheaper and probably more efficient ways to address OP's question but I might throw it in here anyways since it's sufficiently related.

Configuring "Do not disturb" mode to allow calls and important texts through is my default phone mode all day long.

Makes a big difference.

My solution to this has been to get a cheap Android phone and keep social media apps on that, leaving my iPhone with only "useful" apps for navigation and work-related stuff. This has worked out well for two reasons: (1) It makes my decision to diddle about on social media a more deliberate one (2) I only get "useful" notifications on my iPhone - no fake DMs for Pinterest, etc. trying to get me to on the app.

Something I have started doing is decoupling functionality from my phone. For example, I bought a cheap 4GB mp3 player a couple months ago. I bought a standalone alarm clock too. Basically I have tried to reduce the number of things I use my phone for. This means I no longer even have my phone with me a lot of the time.

The other change I have made is keeping my phone on silent by default and blocking notifications for almost everything.

In an effort to not repeat some of the great comments already, I think it would be beneficial for you try to find things to do that don't involve your phone.

Try to find something to do that you find more interesting than being on your phone, sports (Running/Cycling), hobbies, walks etc.

I'm as guilty as anyone for looking at my phone too often, its usually only when I have nothing better to do, because of that it makes it worse.

Thank you. I do run and this is another trigger, because I’m “feeling good” I will download apps like Strava, Nike running, Garmin app (linked to running watch) - I also illustrate and not being able to have apps like Instagram to promote work is annoying

I can relate to that feeling, you start a sport so you dive straight into downloading all of the apps to track yourself etc, I get it, I totally get it.

Indistractable goes through the root to why we get addicted and how to fight it a bit. Turn off all notifications, uninstall apps, get a dumb watch so you don't check your phone for time, etc etc...


> I do have a second “dumb phone” (Nokia flip 2720) but due to having a “mobile only” bank account I have to have access to my iPhone.

Could you switch banks?

Could you move you sim card to your Nokia phone and uninstall every iPhone app except your banking app? (Effectively turning the iPhone into a single-purpose banking device.) I’m primarily thinking about setting up parental controls, with a friend as the “parent”.

What works for me is not removing the apps - as you can install them back - but having something else to do that is not on the phone/computer. Having paper books/kindle for instance.

Things you can do to avoid being on the phone/computer, mixed durations:

- paper books/kindle

- (print) sudoku, crossword, logic puzzles (I love those)

- journaling

- drawing (in general, or comic strips)

- playing an instrument (for larger 'do something else' sessions)

OCD is going to find another outlet for you. For me, it transitions from AIDS to Rabies and then it'll find its way back to AIDS again, or maybe covid ... among many other issues.

You need to go after the OCD head-on, rather than the symptoms. My counselor recommended Brain Lock for me. I need to read it again, myself; but, I believe it to be a useful book and always recommend it.

Dr Kawashima classifies what you are experiencing as information addiction. If you have a 3ds lying around, I recommend getting https://www.nintendo.com.au/catalogue/dr-kawashimas-devilish...

If your mobile only bank account is the only thing stopping you from ditching your iPhone, I would suggest switching your bank account.

Yes, a retail bank might have higher fees. But if spending 10 bucks a month can get you rid of your addiction that's a great deal. They will definitely help you with the transition to gain a new customer.

Try to understand what are you getting from your addiction, and how that is missing from your life, or was missing in the past.

The problem with feeds is that some entries provide a small amount of gratification. So you keep looking from the next entry that will provide the next small amount of gratification and so on. But it will never be enough.

There is a theory that addiction works by learning some behavioral patterns so good that you can execute them without any effort whatsoever. Like on autopilot.

If that theory is true, you could see an effect by forcing you to use your weak hand on it. This should force you to concentrate much more on every task and thus disrupt your habit.

Leave your phone permanently plugged in to the charging cable, somewhere that is not comfortable or particularly convenient to use it (e.g. nowhere to sit down). That way you can use your phone as much as you need when you need to, but you will be disincentivized to stand there on it for longer than you should.

I use block lists on PiHole when I'm at home. I can't cheat with cell data because I have a limited data plan. Works OK. It's only a tool though. If there are deeper issues driving your phone addiction, you can use something like PiHole to give you a fighting chance and then seek out a therapist for help.

https://atomichabits.com That’s all you need.

1) what about setting up parental controls on your iOS device so you can't install other apps? Then give the master pswd to someone you trust. Would that help? 2) I would strongly advise seeking therapy, as your problem IMHO requires systemic solutions to address the root causes. Cheers.

My solution for "I will always download" ... I have separate sim for my facebook account, and I only use it to register messenger.

I have contemplated switching to e-ink smarphone. Eink screens are getting usable enough for texting/banking, but are still horrible enough not to spend hours on social media.

due to having a “mobile only” bank account I have to have access to my iPhone.

Is changing your bank account an option?


This startup seems built to directly address your needs. They offer a physical key solution. The founders are really fine people and I know they would appreciate constructive feedback (and customers!)

I was thinking about making some kind of 'internet switch' with arduino. Like a big button which turns on/off the internet. I just think it's way cooler than unplugging the cable. Has anyone done something similar?

I was surprised how effective and enjoyable I found Habitica (habitica.com). This provides you with an app to check, where you get fun meaningless points for doing things you are trying to get into the habit of doing. Turn your obsessiveness on itself.

1) Switch your bank account, 2) there are apps out there that replace the entire UI with a blank screen with 7 or 8 pre-selected apps (for Android anyway) and silence notifications. Helped me a ton, my phone doesn't grab my attention or show me anything unless I make it. I think the premium versions may allow you to completely block apps (like the App Store). Otherwise look into "Parental Controls" to lock down the phone to essentials.

If you feel you're about to start doing something on your phone that you don't want to, force yourself to get up and do 10 pushups, and then go accomplish some task that you have already set for yourself (chores, make a phone call, plan your day/week). If you can stick to it, the worst case is you'll be getting stuff done in addition to wasting time. Best case, you lose the interest in the scrolly thing because your attention gets focused on something else.

My cofounder and I have been working on this problem for the past few years after being frustrated by the software solutions. You need your entire phone out of sight, new studies show even the presence of your phone can be a distraction[1] We are super-excited to be launching on Indiegogo in the next few weeks. Check it out at https://pausbox.com

[1] https://news.utexas.edu/2017/06/26/the-mere-presence-of-your...

FYI 'paus' is Dutch for 'pope'

We may need to rebrand when we expand to the European market...

I'm with OP in their diagnosis of the problem. Other commenters seem to focus on "tricks". The problem with these tricks is that they can all be bypassed and you always go back to normal. Would you suggest someone who wants to quit smoking just keep cigarettes in their pocket and just snap a rubber and on their wrist when they want one? Of course not, that is just asking to relapse. Self-control is a finite resource. Eventually, you stop using the rubber band and just continue smoking as before.

I've long thought that what we need is a forked Android distribution without a web browser and with a whitelist of apps that can be installed. Something of an "addiction-free phone". I'd be curious to hear if anyone is working on anything like this. It's certainly something I would want. To be honest, I'd pay a lot for it.

Isn't it already possible for free? I mean, you can always install a mod rooted Android and use if as you wish

Could you expand on that? I'm not familiar with the world of rooting android. Does something exist that would allow you to specify exactly which apps are installed (and remove the web browser and play store)?

Addiction is addiction. Find a therapist and get help. You don't need to figure this all out yourself.

I went to rehab and it was very good for me. I wouldn't still be here without it.

Great suggestions already given on how to limit your phone use... But I can only imagine that it leaks into other areas of your life.

Have you’ve looked into treating the causes you mentioned? Perhaps behavioral therapy.

Thank you. I am undergoing CBT and Exposure Therapy for my contamination based OCD (this isn’t linked to the phone usage) however in times of anxiety caused by the compulsions I head straight for my phone, and will get into it any way possible

https://freedom.to/ will allow you to block access to certain services in a way that's difficult to disable

You can use the Apple family stuff to setup your iPhone as a child in the family. Then you have parental controls I believe let you restrict apps and domains the phone can access.

You can use parental controls without linking your phone to anyone else's.

Limit Twitter to 30 minutes a day. It works, actually better than deleting it. It takes a bit of exploring the find the feature on iOS, but its well worth the effort

I deleted my Twitter & Facebook accounts, and removed the apps. Have not used those platforms in months now and no ill effects. They are so brilliantly addictive that for me at least, the only solution was to go cold turkey.

I put parental controls on my phone to block all but only the most vital apps. Only my wife knows the password to unlock. Maybe something similar will help you out.

My wife already knows all the passwords to my banking apps and I'm pretty much locked out all the time anyways. All I have to do is just go to work. It's great.

Disable all notification except a few necessary one. If possible get an android phone and enable "focus mode". Try it sometime and see if it works for you

I recommend you to read the following books

1. Indistractible by Nir Eyal

2. Happiness Trap by Russ Harris

These books will help you get to the root of your addiction and give you a way to come out of it.

Sadly I can't find it, but there was an Android launcher that would restrict the number of apps you can have to five or seven.

Sadly there is no such solution on the iPhone.

Disable all notification excep a few necessary one. If possible get an android phone temporarily and enable "focus mode". See if it helps

Set up NextDNS and change both your phone and home router’s DNS settings to point to it.

Use the blocklist feature to block dopamine inducing websites!

I've previously changed my phone to black and white mode to make it more boring. That helped me prevent some amount of usage.

My simple trick, switch from a galaxy note 9, to an iphone SE (old one). Big beautiful screens really make a difference

Quit some TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and fb for starters. They make are the “easy” drug dealers of the internet

I usually set it to grayscale and DnD when I want to go to sleep... if you set it all day it might help

You could also try "Digital Minimalism" by Cal Newport. Seems just right for this.

I think it’s possible to use Apple Configurator to lock down your device with a MDM profile.

Do you not use iMessage? How do you access that when you're using the flip phone?

I put 2fa on twitter, but no 2fa app in phone. So i never twitter on phone.

I would recommend reading the works of Matthew Crawford, "Shop Class as Soul Craft" and "The World Outside Your Head". They are really, really good reads on the whole industry of stealing your attention. After reading those I stopped basically ever looking at feeds because I was so nauseated by the business side of it. I mean, do this in addition to all the other good suggestions you're going to get. But for me, understanding how it's nothing different than the casino slot machine makers who have figured out how to make little old ladies piss their pants to keep playing, really helped make it easier to be disciplined about to whom I will give my valuable attention.

tldr; life changing books, read 'em.

And in case no one here mentions cognitive behavioural therapy, look that up too. CBT is really the same techniques used by elite athletes and performers to learn to control their minds, absolutely worth learning.

have you tried http://opal.so ? VPN iOS app built to remove distractions and keep you in control.

set up the accessibility shortcut on your iphone to turn on greyscale. this makes your phone much more dull and less distracting

Remove as much apps as possible.

Turn off _all_ notifications.

It helped me.

Change banks!

Would an android emulator work?

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