I broke habit of spending over 5 hours a day on phone. My trick can work for even busiest professionals
- Jessie Patterson is a former real-estate development executive who felt addicted to her phone.
- To decrease stress and take back her life, she cut down on her screen time.
- Change your mindset, reimagine your relationship with your phone, and take baby steps, she says.
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After I got my first smartphone, my mornings consisted of snoozing my alarm, snoozing it again, then grabbing my phone and diving straight into my notifications. I'd lose track of time while in bed checking my emails, social media, and news feed.
For nearly 20 years, I worked in real-estate development as an executive focused on getting large projects approved and built. A nomad at heart, I lived in San Diego, Sydney, London, and San Francisco and worked on some of the most valuable real-estate deals in the world.
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry took a lot of grit and tenacity - and I loved it. Behind the scenes of my thriving career, however, chronic health struggles persisted year after year. My days would often consist of back-to-back meetings and squeezing in doctor's appointments. I was going nonstop without even thinking twice.
I didn't think my lifestyle had anything to do with my health issues until one day, I learned a startling statistic - 75% to 90% of doctor visits are for stress-related issues.
That day changed my life forever.
With my newfound knowledge, I dug into my habits to see where I could make changes.
I always thought my phone use wasn't something I needed to change, but I discovered I was on my phone for over five hours a day - the average screen time of most Americans. When added up, that equated to 76 days over one year.
That was 20% of my entire year on my phone! This startled me into taking action.
I'd previously tried to make reductions and always failed. So instead of changing everything at once, I started with microsteps, changes so small that it was hard to fail. I found success by slowly building up reductions each week of one to 15 minutes and adding new healthier habits one minute at a time.
Understanding the power of microstep reductions helped reduce my phone use by six minutes a day, which throughout the year adds up to 37 hours of my year back - nearly an entire workweek!
Seeing how quickly this compounded, I was hooked.
I unlocked more health, energy, and happiness.
Today, I use my phone on average 2.5 hours a day, often much less.
My transformation was so profound, I knew I needed to spread the message to others. I used my extra time to start working on building my own business on the side while working full time. Changing my habits transformed my life and career path beyond anything I could've imagined.
I now live in New York City and run NourishX. It's a dream helping others find the keys to unlock their most valuable real estate - their time and wellbeing, one microstep at a time.
Here are three tips to help you start reclaiming your time.
1. Change your mindset
A critical step in changing any habit is to believe you can change.
It isn't about getting rid of your phone but creating a relationship with your devices that helps you. Swap your thinking from, "I don't want to waste my time on my phone" to, "I want to use my time to thrive."
2. Reimagine your relationship with your phone
Don't view any apps you use as "bad." Ask yourself how you can do a tiny bit better today than yesterday.
Set an intention for why you want to reduce your phone use. My intention was to improve my health.
Then decide which replacement activities you want to be doing more often. I choose listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and reading.
3. Embrace the baby steps
Start with one- to five-minute reductions and reduce a little more each week.
The book "Tiny Habits - The Small Changes That Change Everything" by behavioural-change expert B.J. Fogg details that tiny habits work because you learn to feel great about hitting your goal, even if tiny, which changes how you think about your goals and yourself.
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