Less time on your cell phone—but how?

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Just a quick reply to Mom. Just a quick look at what your friends posted at the weekend. Just stream that one video on YouTube. And you’re already lost in the depths of social media, losing minutes or hours that could have been spent more usefully. Five tips for spending less time on your cell phone:

Set cell-phone-free times. Humans are creatures of habit. “You can develop rituals, such as always putting your cell phone away or switching it off for two hours in the afternoon,” says media scientist Caroline Roth-Ebner. “You can get used to it.” It’s essential to inform contacts if you won’t be available for extended time. “Then this pressure is removed.”

Banish it from the bedroom. Create not only cell phone-free times but also cell phone-free zones and situations. The dining table is where the family gets together, the fireplace is where you prefer to lie down with a book, and the bedroom is where you want to relax. Especially before going to bed or when studying, you should not have your cell phone within reach.

Deactivate push notifications. A new message on Instagram, a breaking news alert on your favorite messaging app, a new photo, or push notifications to tell us what’s going on in the (digital) world tend to pull us away from our current activity and captivate us. Better: turn off or mute notifications as much as possible.

The smartphone itself can help us use it less. The device or its apps can measure our screen time and usage time, and daily limits can be set based on this. Numerous apps aim to help us spend less time on our cell phones. “Offscreen,” for example, breaks down exactly how much time we have spent and creates concentration phases, while “Focus Lock” locks the most popular apps for a pre-defined period.
Complete time-out. If nothing else helps, it’s time to go cold turkey: switch to flight mode or, if you can manage it, switch off your cell phone for several days. This will also make it easier to have cell phone-free moments during the day.

Of course, these tips work better for some than for others. After switching off the notifications for WhatsApp, many people are often in the app to see if anyone has written to them. Others bypass the app’s block by adjusting the daily limit they have exceeded.

It’s helpful, if shocking – to know how much time you spend on your cell phone. And then it’s worth setting clear goals: What do you want to change? For example, I want to be more aware of how I spend my time and use it more wisely than getting lost in cat videos or other people’s Instagram profiles.

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