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Digital detox: How to make your phone time more meaningful

By Josh Levesque

Originally published January 2, 2024

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Last Updated February 6, 2024

Mint Fox with a sign that says "How to make your phone time more meaningful"

The new year is upon us, and a common resolution for many will likely be a digital detox. Being more intentional about your phone usage and potentially reducing your screen time can be challenging, but can also have many benefits. We realize a wireless company telling you not to use your wireless phone so much might be odd, but what can we say? We love irony. But we also want you to value the time you do spend on your phone. Here are some easy to follow tips on how you can make the most of each tap & scroll by starting your digital detox on the right foot…or thumb. 

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Benefits of a phone detox

Beyond just longer battery life, there are several personal benefits that could come with a digital detox.

Improved focus

Last time your phone died while you were out and about, how many times did you still try to check it? Reducing your screen time might help your brain form new habits to the point where you don’t feel the need to look at your phone every 2-3 minutes, resulting in a longer attention span overtime.  

Better sleep

We’re all guilty of it. It’s late, we’re ready to crash, but first we want to watch 5 or 6…hundred TikToks. But it may not be sloth videos and botched recipes keeping you up at night, it could also be your phone’s screen. The blue light emitted from your phone has been shown to affect REM sleep, making it more difficult to fully wake up in the morning. Blue light also hampers the production of melatonin, the hormone that usually increases around bedtime to make you more tired.*

Feeling more present

You’ll begin to notice that spending time with loved ones, friends and colleagues is more rewarding when you’re truly living in the moment and not distracted by a cell phone. You go make memories with those closest to you…those push notifications from your favorite shopping app will still be there.

Free up time for hobbies

You may be surprised at just how much time you spend looking at your phone each day when you add it all up — and a digital detox is about spending quality time on your phone, not quantity. Being more intentional with your phone usage can free up enough time to take a yoga class (even if it’s through an app), learn another language (which you can also do on your phone) or maybe read that book that’s been collecting dust on your shelf since you got it for your birthday. Three years ago.

Mint Fox with a checklist on how to make the most of the time you spend on your phone

How to make the most of the time you spend on your phone 

We’ve covered the why, now let’s get into how you should go about a digital detox. It’s important to set boundaries with your screen time to foster more mindful phone habits.

Social media detox

Something as simple as moving your social media apps off of your home screen can keep you from repeatedly opening them and mindlessly scrolling every time you look at your phone. You can take it a step further and just delete the app entirely to take an extended break. When you’re ready to dive back in, you can always redownload the apps and pick up right where you left off. (Although the name of the app may have changed for no reason, that does happen sometimes.)

Don’t look at your phone first thing in the morning

Ease into your day before sorting through the notifications you got overnight. You can sort through those emails and text messages once you’re fully awake (when your replies might be a little…nicer too). Charging your phone away from your bed so you don’t wake up right next to your phone can help. And yes, this means you may want to get an old school alarm clock.

Don’t look at your phone right before bed

Waiting to check your phone until you’re fully awake works way better after a good night’s sleep. As we mentioned earlier, the blue light emitted from your phone can negatively impact your REM sleep and melatonin production. So best to just leave your phone outside your bedroom entirely while you catch some Zs. 

Put your phone physically away from you

We know, we know. “So a digital detox just means not being in the same room as my phone anymore?” Well, kinda. Obviously you still need to check your phone from time to time, but having it at arm’s length, seeing those notifications out of the corner of your eye, is just oh-so-tempting. After work hours, try leaving your phone in a drawer for 20-30 minutes so you aren’t distracted by it. Is 30 minutes too easy? Increase the length and frequency of these phone “time outs” as you wish. 

Don’t pick up your phone immediately

Calls, texts, push notifications…your phone is essentially just saying “Hey, pay attention to me” all day long. But if you’re in the middle of something, give it a minute. That notification can wait. Texting back within 5 seconds is kinda creepy anyway, right? 

Work on your mindfulness

A very effective trick to make the most of your digital detox is what we call “setting an intention.” Before you unlock your phone for the fifth time in three minutes, ask yourself…why am I looking at my phone right now? We often check our phones just for the sake of checking them. Whether you’re just bored or it’s a force of habit, reducing the amount of times you check your phone “just because” can go a long way.

Mint Fox holding a phone next to text reading "Using phone settings to manage phone usage"

Use your phone settings to manage your phone usage

We went over steps that you can take personally to reduce your phone time, but iPhones and Android phones also have features you can implement that will help you be more mindful of your digital consumption. 

Do Not Disturb mode

Turn this on to keep any distracting calls, text messages or push notifications from coming in until you turn it off. 

Digital Wellbeing (Android)

Digital Wellbeing is an Android feature that tracks how much time you spend on certain apps. Use it to set timers for specific apps that you feel take up too much of your day, and once you’ve reached your set time limit, your Android phone will stop sending notifications from those apps for the day. 

Screen Time (iPhone)

Similar to Digital Wellbeing, Screen Time is an iPhone feature that tracks the time you spend on certain apps and allows you to set timers to keep them from taking up too much of your day. This might also reduce your overall data usage, which could end up saving you money on your wireless bill. Most carriers would probably be opposed to that, but we’re not like most carriers (more on that later).   

Mute notifications

Another simple step you can take is just muting notifications entirely. You don’t need to know every single time someone “likes” your most recent post, right? Waiting a few hours and logging in to see a bunch of likes at once is more satisfying anyway. 

Pay less for your phone during your digital detox, too

As you discover more about your phone habits and become more mindful of your usage, you may realize you don’t use or need as much data as you thought. Consider switching to a lower-priced carrier that offers flexible data plans, like Mint Mobile. Not only do we provide tips & tricks for maintaining a good phone/life balance; we can help with your checking account balance too, by offering premium wireless for just $15/month.** Learn more about why you should choose Mint Mobile below. Or set your phone down and come back to it tomorrow.

*https://www.health.com/mind-body/3-reasons-not-to-sleep-with-your-phone-in-your-bed
**New activation & upfront payment for 3-month plan req’d. Taxes & fees extra. Addt’l restrictions apply. See mintmobile.com for full terms.

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