What would you do if I asked to see your screen time? Freeze up? Hide your phone? Break out in hives? Truthfully, most of us aren’t proud of how much time we spend on social media and useless apps, but our devices make it really hard to break the habit (check out my free habit tracker here). If you want to decrease your screen time, increase your productivity, and finally create balance with your devices, try these 23 things to do instead of scrolling on your phone and help you create a phone-free morning routine.
Why Screen-Free Activities Are Important, Even For Grown-Ups
You’ve probably heard of all the dangers of too much screen time when it pertains to kids: decreased attention span, trouble sleeping, and dependency on devices. But these risks are real for people of all ages. Spending too much time on your devices (and yes, that counts work time, too) can have a lasting impact on your physical and mental health. If you want to sleep better, think more clearly, and increase your attention span, it’s time to step away from the screens.
Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Our devices are designed to keep us hooked. Every time you open a colorful app, see a funny meme, or hear the “ding” of a notification, your brain releases a little shot of dopamine. Over time, you can literally become addicted to it.
And what’s the best way to break an addiction? Replace it with something healthier and more fulfilling.
PS: If you’re ready to build better habits with your phone and decrease your screen time for good so you can reclaim your time (and sanity), check out my Break Up With Your Phone E-book.
23 Things to Do Instead of Scrolling on Your Phone
Quitting cold turkey isn’t easy. Instead, turn to one of these activities when you feel the urge to reach for your phone.
- Take a walk. Fresh air does the mind good! If you’re feeling bored or listless, take a walk around the block. Who knows? You might come up with your next great idea while you’re strolling instead of scrolling.
- Write in a journal. I used to pick up my phone when I was trying to avoid a weird thought or feeling. Instead, face it head on. Journal about what you’re feeling, and try to get to the bottom of your phone habit. Here’s some helpful tips how you can use writing therapy to your advantage.
- Do some stretches. It’s hard to scroll in downward dog. Do some light stretching or yoga to get your blood pumping and relieve tension. This is especially helpful if you spend a lot of time at a desk.
- Practice box breathing. Box breathing is an exercise where you breath in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and repeat. It’s soothing, and it can help bring you back into your body when you’re too in your head.
- Listen to music or a podcast. When was the last time you listened to a podcast or album without distractions? Pop on some headphones, pick something to listen to, and just listen. You’ll get more out of the listening experience that way!
- Daydream. So many of us give up on daydreaming when we reach adulthood. Why not get back into it? Zone out a bit, dream about your goals, and imagine the life you want to live. Not only is this relaxing, but visualizing your goals can actually help you reach them.
- Read a book. See those books collecting dust on your nightstand? Pick one up! I like to set a book on top of my phone when I’m hanging out at home. That way, when I’m tempted to scroll, it’s easy to pick up the book instead.
- Play with your pet. I don’t know anyone who would say, “I spend too much time playing with my dog.” Use your free time to show them a little extra love. Throw a ball, play tug, or just snuggle them on the couch. It’ll be good for both of you! (This applies to kids, too!)
- Tidy your desk. If you’re constantly picking up your phone at work, spend a couple minutes tidying up your desk. It’ll get your eyes off of your computer screen while still keeping you in the “work” mindset.
- Knit or crochet. Do you turn to your phone when you need something to do with your hands? Put them to work by crafting! Knitting and crochet are great because they require both hands. Plus, once you get the rhythm down, you can listen to a podcast while you do it.
- Write a to-do list. I always find myself reaching for my phone when I’m feeling stressed about the day ahead. Instead of doom scrolling, write a list of everything you need to accomplish today. It’s way less overwhelming to see it all written down than it is to let your to-do list live in your head.
- Call your accountability buddy. Have a friend who also wants to spend less time scrolling? Call them up! You can make a deal that you spend fifteen minutes talking on the phone while you walk around the neighborhood or tidy your house.
- Make a cup of tea. A warm drink can really help you relax, both mentally and physically. Plus, the process of making tea can act as a mindfulness exercise. Consider each step as you make your cup, and then spend some quiet time sipping and thinking.
- Take a nap. Yep, I said it! Often, we turn to our phones because we’re feeling too tired to think. Listen to your body and get some rest. (Just don’t sleep through your next Zoom meeting!)
- Prep your next meal. I hate feeling hungry by dinnertime and then realizing I have to chop five different vegetables. Do your future self a favor and prep tonight’s dinner ahead of time. It’ll keep your hands and your mind occupied.
- Rearrange your decor. Refreshing your decor can do wonders to boost your mood! Color-code your bookshelf, rearrange your photos, or find a new space to display your keepsakes. It’ll give you a sense of accomplishment and make your space feel new. And if you’re feeling extra motivated, why not do a bit of decluttering? You’ll feel so much lighter for it.
- Watch the world outside your window. Pull up a chair, and spend ten minutes observing your neighborhood through the window. Watch the birds, eavesdrop on a neighbor, admire the trees–whatever you like! Get in touch with your surroundings and notice all the little things happening around you every day.
- Make a gratitude list. What are you most grateful for? Write it down. Practicing gratitude can improve your mental health and even boost your immune system.
- Dance it out. Crank up your music and just move! It can help get the anxious energy out of your body, and if you do it long enough, it’s a great workout.
- Work on a puzzle. I love keeping an in-progress puzzle on my dining room table. Try it out! Work on it a bit at a time whenever you’re bored. Better yet, pop on your favorite podcast and go to town!
- Doodle. Seriously, when was the last time you doodled? Grab a pen and a piece of paper, and let your mind wander while you scribble.
- Declutter your closet. Spend some time going through your wardrobe and bagging up anything you want to donate. Just ten minutes can make a major difference in the overall amount of clutter.
- Just zone out. Sometimes, it feels like we’ve forgotten how to be bored. If you’re feeling tempted to scroll, embrace the boredom! Zone out, think about nothing, and give your brain a break.
Ready to break up with your phone?
Aren’t we all? It’s so easy to become dependent on your devices yet so difficult to break things off.
If you struggle to take your eyes off that glowing screen, get my “Break up with your phone” e-Book to learn how to become more mindful with your phone so you can be more present and reduce your screen time with my easy 4-step process with journal prompts and templates to help you stop mindless scrolling so you can be more present and productive.