Behavioral scientist Michelle Drouin thinks it’s fine to be dependent on your phone — it’s a useful and illuminating tool — and she doesn’t get with the idea of digital detox. If she feels her screen time is out of balance, she uses a simple practice to shift the amount of time she spends on her phone to regain time doing things that mean more to her: Choice.

Don’t deceive yourself into thinking you’re being sucked into your technologies. Instead, see your tech use for what it is: you knowing what you like, and you choosing to engage in it (at the cost of other opportunities).

In The Time Hack Everyone Should Know she lays out her practice. Here’s the gist, though it’s worth reading or listening to the whole thing for its many nuanced ideas:

…We make active decisions about how we spend our time, and we then save and invest our time where we want…

…There are two types of action [you can take in lieu of using your phone]: omission — carving out some intimate times (e.g., dinner) and intimate spaces (e.g., at night in bed with a partner) without your phone, and substitution — swapping passive time on your phone with something that has proven health benefits, like a call to a friend or a walk.

…Each time you interact with your phone, you’ll have three choices: use, omit, or substitute.

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If your phone is interfering with your life rather than helping you live a better one, consciously practicing these choices are the way to start building in what you REALLY want into each 24 hour day. Drouin warns that the change won’t happen all at once. It takes about 2 months of shifting in small ways — practicing these new choices — to create the habit.

We find just the awareness that our time on our phone is a choice begins to soften our attachment and shift…

(…and when we find ourself mindlessly scrolling Instagram or the news, we know that we are anxious or tired. And that makes us ask: Is this the best way to take care of ourselves, or would something else help us more?

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