First Published: July 1, 2021 | Last Updated: July 1, 2021

The gist: the easiest way I've found to stay off my phone isn't anything drastic, high tech, or complicated. It's relying on my natural "laziness."

For years now, I've been experimenting with ways to use my phone less.

However, a lot of the commonly given advice for doing that, like going for walks without your smartphone or not bringing your phone into the bedroom, don't work for me.

As someone with chronic illnesses and disabilities, I need to be able to access my phone easily in case of an emergency.

And the whole point of an emergency is kinda that you don't know when it's coming. 🤷🏻‍♀️

There have absolutely been times when I've gone for a walk or jog without a phone, rolled my bad ankle, and didn't have a way to call for a ride home.

In fact, I got my first cell phone as a kid because neighbors kept picking me up on the side of the road in my neighborhood, injured and lying in the grass...I needed to be able to use the prepaid minutes on my faceplate-clad Nokia to call my parents, instead of waiting for an adult I knew to drive by. 😬

And there are so many times that I wake up in the morning sick and unable to get out of bed right away. I'd rather have my phone than just lie there. Especially if I need to let people know I'm sick.

But that doesn't mean I can't have some form of tech-life balance.

Like every other part of Work Brighter, the Brighter approach to screen time management and spending less time on your phone is about...

  • Identifying your own tendencies
  • Leaning into them, and
  • Writing your own rules for optimization (instead of following someone else's)

Today's post isn't about listing out all of the different rules I've tried for myself, because not all of them worked.

Instead, it's about sharing the easiest and most effective way I've found to spend less time on my phone: keep it just out of reach.

Are you ready to start working brighter?

Productivity isn't black and white, it's personal as hell. And there's no single lifehack or framework to solve your problems. 

Sign up to get weekly tips and stories to help you create your OWN definition of productivity working better and brighter.

J.O.O.R.: Keep it just out of reach.

The idea of physically separating yourself from your phone is a reasonable one.

So many "quick notification checks" happen because we need a quick break from thinking. And our phone is...there.

Almost always right next to us or literally on our bodies.

Checking it is the most convenient way to take that pause.

So what if it wasn't? 🤔

Enter, the separation idea.

But when most people talk about separating yourself from your phone, they recommend a lot of distance.

Separate rooms. Separate buildings, even.

That's more distance than necessary.

(Especially when you have ADHD or something else with object permanence impairment. 🤣)

With that much distance, sure, it's inconvenient to check without a reason.

But it also becomes super inconvenient to check the phone if you DO have a reason to. Even worse, it's not necessarily possible in case of an emergency.

So what if instead of keeping our phones in a separate room, we keep it just out of reach (J.O.O.R.)?

J.O.O.R. tactic to spend less time on your smartphone

I tried it for the first time last year, and my screen time is a fraction of what it used to be.

No complicated routines or hacks necessary.

If my arm is 2.5 feet long, my phone is 3 feet away.

(Just guessing here, based on my height of 5'1".)

When I just want to check Instagram while waiting for a webpage to load? It's not worth the stretch.

If my grandma is calling, it is.

And the phone is close enough that I won't miss Mimi's ringing.

It's SO simple...and yet, it's been more effective than anything else I tried to stay off my phone.

Out of reach, out of mind.

lazy stretch

How to practice J.O.O.R. to spend less time on your phone

So how can you use your phone less by practicing J.O.O.R. yourself?

Here are a few scenarios and how you could use J.O.O.R. in them:

  • When you're in bed, keep your phone on the far corner of your nightstand or in one of its drawers, if it has them.
  • If you share a bed with someone else, keep your phone on their nightstand (and vice versa, if they're game to J.O.O.R. too!
  • If you're sitting on one end of the couch, put your phone on the opposite end of it.
  • When you're working at a desk, put it in a draw or on a nearby shelf.
  • When you go for walks, keep your phone in your least convenient pocket, whether that's your purse your backpack, or just your non-dominant pants leg.

Or whatever else you can think of!

Are you ready to start working brighter?

Productivity isn't black and white, it's personal as hell. And there's no single lifehack or framework to solve your problems. 

Sign up to get weekly tips and stories to help you create your OWN definition of productivity working better and brighter.

J.O.O.R. yourself

And now, my challenge to you is to pick one activity today or tomorrow, where you'd normally have your phone next to you.

Instead, keep it just out of reach.