What's the last thing you look at before going to sleep at night? What's the first thing you see upon waking up? You're constantly aware of where it is, you avoid eye contact by pulling it out to refresh Instagram, and you're starting to feel phantom notification buzzes in your pocket.
Smartphone addiction is considered "normal" these days. We're all dopamine junkies, and that magical ping of a new notification sends everyone's favorite drug straight to the central nervous system.
Apps are great, mobile adds a ton to our lives - we wouldn't give them up for the world. But if you've noticed the quality of your engagement with the world around you plummeting, and you're ready to do something about it, here are six Android apps to help you fight your mobile addiction.
Offtime tracks which apps are sucking away your days and blocks them for chunks of focused time. Use the graphs and data to figure out which apps are consuming your productivity and restrict your access to 'em for up to 12 hours. If you like, select certain contacts who can break through your self-imposed silence - or don't, and rest easy in your bubble of digital tranquility.
Set up real-life alerts when you exceed your limits: QualityTime
Another mobile usage tracker, QualityTime boasts a super attractive design, plus custom blocking and cloud backup of your data. My favorite part of the app is its integration with both IFTTT and the Internet of Things, which means that you can set an event to, say, turn your smart lightbulbs dark blue when you exceed your predefined limits of Facebook for the day.
Ever tried and failed to reduce your mobile usage? If you're the competitive type, Pause is your solution. Get your mobile addict friends to install it too, then compete amongst yourselves to see who can keep their phone in Airplane Mode the longest. Of course, you won't know if you're winning til you turn connectivity back on... plus you can still feed your Candy Crush addiction offline.
If you're more of a lone wolf (or if you don't want to rope your friends into your quitting process), try Forest on for size. When you want to focus on a task, just plant a tree. It requires 30 undisturbed minutes to grow; if you mess with your phone in that time frame, you'll kill the sprout before it ever has a chance to flourish. More trees in your forest collection means you've been paying more attention to real life.
Ready to take the big plunge? Kill your connectivity completely with Freedom, which you can set up to refuse to let you back online no matter what you do (short of factory resetting the device). Lock yourself out of cell data, WiFi data, Bluetooth, or all of the above for a specified period of time. Schedule mobile-free time in advance in anticipation of distractions.
Ultimately, the problem is not your mobile device, but rather your mental state. Tackle the root cause with buddhify: mindfulness to go, which offers guided meditation for every conceivable situation ("Can't Sleep," "Walking In A City," "Being Online," and more). True peace must come from within; buddhify just offers a convenient way to remind yourself to seek it.
If you've tried all of the above and your thumbs are still blistering over from compulsive swiping and tapping, maybe it's time to switch to noPhone. Distraction free, guaranteed - and you can still pretend to check it to avoid eye contact with other humans.
What strategies do you use when you need to take a breather from your mobile device? Give us some tips in the Comments below.