This simple hack helped me reduce my smartphone addiction and win some free time

Me walking around with my kids (iPhone in the Belt Bag!)

It seems like everyone is trying to wean themselves off their smartphones these days; turning it into black and white, hiding apps inside folders, canceling their notifications and badges, and whatnot.

I’ve been reading countless theories and methods about this and thinking:

“Who am I kidding?"

I don't want to break up with my iPhone!
I love my iPhone!
It’s part of me, the most important add-on to my body.
It’s the amplifier and the distortion all together!

I love checking my messages 1,000 times a day. I love checking our server loads, the number of open orders, exceptions, statistics, trends, emails, who retweeted my tweets, how many new subscribers joined my newsletter and how many likes my last blog post generated.
The iPhone is my all-in-one monitoring tool. It's interesting, it's fun, and it's even productive in many cases despite what many people think these days.

Only problem is - I became a bit too obsessive about it.

I find it hard to let it go and check it every spare millisecond I have in my life: in the elevator, in the parking lot, at the entrance to the car, when stuck in traffic, when walking out of the car, while going back to the car to pick up what I forgot, while ordering coffee, on the way to the toilet, while waiting in line to pick up some medications, while waiting for the pharmacist to bring the medications. It’s a reflex. An instinct.

There’s no “idle time” anymore. 

There are no more moments when I’m actually doing nothing; watching the world, seeing people, making eye contacts, observing things happening around me, analyzing them, enjoying the moment.

So I decided to make a rule for myself.
It’s based on a rule I originally invented for my kids and it’s called "the segue rule”.

Enter the Segue Rule

The segue rule is simple: don't stare at your "screen" (originally written for my kids) while moving from one place (or state) to another: while getting out, getting in, walking somewhere, waiting in line, etc.
Simply put, when moving from A to B - get rid of your "screens" to prevent distractions.
It works pretty well for my kids: it made them more attentive when we need to go or perform some actions - so I thought it might work well for me as well.

So I did this simple thing:

I bought a belt bag  

Not one of those funny looking belt bags we used to wear 20 years ago, but a trendy, good looking crossbody belt bag that cool people wear in a nonchalant, almost clumsy fashion.

How buying a belt bag helped me reduce my smartphone addiction and win some free time
You like it? Bought it at PULL and BEAR

And I use it too!

Every time I'm in the middle of a transition of some sort, I store my iPhone inside my belt bag and just forget about it for a few minutes.

Heading to the coffee shop? The iPhone is safely stored inside my belt bag while I take a look around.
Nice to be back, world. I’m Gil BTW.

Picking up a kid? The iPhone is in my belt bag and I'm not tempted to check my emails while walking.
We’re talking instead, and it’s one hell of a quality moment.

Entering an elevator? phone in the bag.
I make eye contact with the people around me (those who are not staring at their phones and don't think I'm weird for staring at them).

Meeting a friend for a beer? Phone->Bag.
I'm 90% attentive, tempted to check the iPhone from time to time, but for the most part, I’m listening, enjoying the chat and having that one-on-one thing.

It almost feels like a ceremony: as if placing the smartphone inside that bag is a sign of me logging off for a few minutes.

"You stay there, while I’m leading the way!" 

It’s working!
I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now and so far it feels like I’m on to something.
I’m able to disconnect myself, even if for short periods of time.

A modest hack.
Easy to use.
No fancy goals or drastic changes.
No FOMO and no dramatic modifications to the phone settings that are doomed to fail.

Check out the best of the Mobile Spoon 

Incremental improvement, but I’m a great believer in building habits through incremental changes.
Big moves start with small, harmless steps that help you get into the rhythm (kinetic friction is usually smaller than static friction as I recall).

So I thought I'd share this small hack with my readers. Give it a try. I’m pretty sure some of you may find it useful.

Especially if like me, you miss wearing a belt bag...

Before you leave - subscribe to my newsletter and become 23% more awesome than average.