How To Break Up With Your Phone


How To Break Up With Your Phone – 025


In this Episode 25, we continue with our digital detox.  Jenny and I review how week one of this breakup with our phones went.  One of us did better than the other (I’ll let you guess who!) . We are using the book How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price as we we start the process of getting after the details of the second week of our digital detox by learning how to quiet notifications on our phones and reorganize apps.  I’m diggin’ a book I read on vacation called Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and Jenny is diggin’ splitting meals at a restaurant.  Jenny’s win is related to a new green smoothie recipe and my learn is a tough one this week after John and I had to say goodbye to our cat Calvin 🙁


Tune in and Listen Below



What You’ll Hear (and don’t want to miss!)


2:29: Let’s talk about Dopamine for a minute

4:00: Jenny and I review how week one of this breakup with our phones went.  One of us did better than the other (I’ll let you guess who!) . Then we start the process of getting after the details of the second week of our digital detox. Get all the details below in Resources for this episode.

29:52: Listener Feedback:  Some great words and quotes from some of you who are listening and playing along.

31:50: What Are You Diggin’ Lately?  I’m diggin’ a book called Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and Jenny is diggin’ splitting meals at a restaurant.  She’s a bit of a weirdo 🙂

38:04: You Win or You Learn: Jenny’s win this week is related to a new green smoothie recipe and my learn is a tough one after the loss of my cat Calvin who I’ve known and loved for nearly 15 years.

45:22: We wrap it up for this week.  Next week we will continue with our breakup with our phone and the process of building a more positive and sustainable relationship with this amazing piece of technology.  We hope you’ll continue to join us.


Resources + Links Mentioned in This Episode:


Right click here and save as to download this episode to your computer

Book: How To Break Up With your Phone by Catherine Price


Book: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson


Jenny’s new Green Smoothie Recipe

One of my favourite pictures of fat orange Calvin in all his glory.  I loved him lots and he will be missed!



Second Week of the Smartphone Breakup

Day 8: Say ‘No’ to Notifcations

Push notifications are reinforcing habit loops that we are trying to change….they’ve got to go!!

Action Item: (Do it now!) Go into your phone’s notification settings and turn off all notifications except for phone calls and (if you want) messaging apps and your calendar. 

Day 9: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Apps

1)Tools: maps, photos, camera, password manager, uber/taxi, banking, weather, music, the actual phone. These are the apps that improve your life without stealing your attention. They are the only apps allowed to be on your home screen. They serve a practical purpose without being tempting.

2) Junk Food apps: social media, news apps, shopping apps, internet browsers, messaging apps, games, email. These are the apps that are fun or useful in limited quantities but that are hard to stop using once you start. They can sometimes be life improving but they also threaten to suck you in. If an app’s risk for you outweigh its benefits….delete it. (remember you can always re-install) If it seems like enjoyment outweighs risk, relocate it to the second screen on your phone and hide it in a folder (ideally with a title that reminds you to think about it before you open it) Speed Bump!!

3)Slot Machine apps: social media, dating apps, shopping apps, games. Every app on your phone is a dopamine trigger but these slot machine apps are the worst. These are the apps that don’t improve your life and they steal your attention. Signs that an app is a slot machine/junk food app for you: You feel a sense of anticipation when you open it, you find it hard to stop using it, after you use it…you feel disappointed, unsatisfied or disgusted with yourself. Slot machine apps suck. Delete them.

4)Clutter: for example the QR reader I installed in 2012 and haven’t looked at since. You never use these apps. They don’t steal your attention but they don’t improve your life. Delete them.

5)Utility Apps: These apps have some practical purpose but don’t improve your daily life enough to be qualified as tools (eg find iPhone app) Keep these apps in a folder on your 3rd page

6)The Un-deleteables: Your phone won’t let you delete some apps. You can hide them in a folder on your 3rd page.

Folders: The author suggests that with the exception of your home screen, put your apps into folders even if it means that much of your screen is empty. The point is organization to a point, but more importantly to protect yourself from yourself. You won’t be able to see the app as easily and therefore won’t reactively click on it….speed bump!

The Menu Bar: You can customize the icons at the bottom of the screen. The author suggests taking your email out of the menu bar and banishing it to an interior page (in a folder). She says to move messages and internet browsers as well. She says that you can leave those spots empty if you like or put tools there

Day 10: Change Where You Charge it

The easiest way to break this habit is to make it harder to reach for your phone while you are in bed. Create a charging station that isn’t in your bedroom (or at the very least, is not right next to your bed)

Get a non phone alarm clock.

For best results: All family members should do this and all phones should be charged in the same spot. You can establish a fine for those who are caught ‘cheating’ and then at some point, plan a fun activity that doesn’t involve phones…once the fine jar is full, you can use the money to enjoy the activity!

If you are worried that you’ll miss an important call when your phone is in the other room, turn the ringer on and turn it up. Since you’ve turned off notifications, your phone is now essentially a landline. Old school.

Day 11: Set Yourself Up For Success

We have removed some of the triggers that make us automatically reach for our phones. Now we are going to add some new triggers. Things that make it more likely for us to do the things we say we want to do or that we enjoy. We are trying to establish happier healthier habits.
Eg: if you want to read more, book on your bedside table. If you want to play more music, take your instrument out of its case and put it someplace you’ll see it. If you want to be less tempted to bring your phone into your bedroom to soothe yourself (guilty) make your bedroom a more soothing place to be in without your phone. Nice sheets, calming pictures, diffuser with lavender

Take a second to identify several changes you can make to your environment to make it more likely that you’ll do the things you say you want to… them!

Day 12: Download an App-Blocker

You can download an app that blocks your access to sites and apps that you tend to get sucked into while still letting you use the rest of your phone.

iOs (Freedom)

Android (Offtime)

Some of these apps allow you to schedule sessions in advance so if you want to stop checking social media before bed, you simply block social media before bed.

These app blockers are especially helpful if you need to use social media apps for work or school!! You can use the app blocker to schedule ahead of time so that you have access to them only during certain hours of the day.

Day 13: Set Boundaries

Establish No Phone Zones. A place where you don’t use your phone. Full Stop. No phone zones are great because they remove the need for decision making in the moment. They can also help to reduce conflict. If everyone knows that phones aren’t allowed at the dinner table, then you don’t need to have a new argument about it each night.

Start with dinner table and bedroom. (brings people together and improves sleep)

Give your phone a wake up time You can also create a No Phone Zone based on time….eg. No checking email after 6pm.

Assign your phone a wake up time for tomorrow morning (this should be at least an hour after you get up yourself)
Choose something restorative or fun that you will do for yourself while your phone sleeps. (eg reading a book, yoga or meditation, cooking a nice breakfast)

Enforce the wake up by putting the phone in airplane mode or turn it off and charge it in a place where you won’t see it until it’s time for the phone to wake up. You could also use the app blocker here which is useful if you want to have access to certain features but not others. This is a fantastic way to reclaim weekend mornings for yourself.

Day 14: Stop Phubbing

Phubbing is short for phone snubbing. Having your phone on the table during a meal? That’s phubbing. Checking your phone in the middle of a conversation? Phubbing. Texting while you’re at a party? Phubbing. These types of behaviours have become so common that we often don’t even notice that we’re engaging in them. But we are.

You’ve likely already begun to reduce your phubbing thanks to the work you’ve put into this breakup so far. But let’s make it official. From now until the end of this month’s challenge, please do your best not to phub by keeping your phone off the table at meals (if you’ve already designated your table as a No Phone Zone, you are ahead of the game)
What about Other People’s Phones and Phubbing?

One of the things that makes phubbing so tricky to deal with is that the less you do it yourself, the more you’ll notice when it’s being done to you.
When you have people over, consider asking them to leave their phones in a basket by the door. At first they’ll think you’re a total weirdo, but then they may decide to do it at their house too.
When you are out, keep your phone off the table and make a point of asking others around you permission before you check your phone….chances are that your friends will be confused at first but then you can take the opportunity to explain that you are trying not to phub people. It’s interesting conversation…and this behaviour is potentially catching.

The author says that when she is with friends and something comes up in conversation that they want to check, they will use ‘Permission to use phone?/Permisson granted’ as a way to make sure they are all on the same page and no one feels phubbed.

If you need to take a call or respond to a text while with other people….consider not responding until later. Or, if you need to….consider leaving the room.

How to be reached in an emergency. You can adjust your Do Not Disturb settings to allow phone calls from a select group of contacts.

Ok there is a lot to accomplish in this coming week but we know that you can do it and I’m pretty sure that I can do it 🙂 Get after it!


Key Quotes:


I also just want to say to anyone else who might be having some trouble with this like I have been.  Don’t stress…..there is no way to ‘fail’ this test.

First:  There is nothing wrong with mindless distraction.  There are times when zoning out on your phone is exactly what you want to do.  What is problematic….and what we are trying to avoid….is letting a state of mindless distraction become our default.

The point is not to punish ourselves by not using the phone at all and then think that we’re not ‘doing it right’ if we end up in the scroll.  The point is to increase our consciousness around the use of this phone and use it for the good that it can offer us while cutting back on the things that are contributing to what we don’t want in our lives.  

-Peggy offering some advice based on her own experience so far with this challenge



Share your thoughts… We’d love to hear from you!


What was your biggest take away from this episode? Let us know if you are continuing with this challenge of breaking up with your phone.  Have you turned off notifications and re-organized your apps?  We would love to hear your experience.

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The Improvement Project podcast is hosted by Dr. Peggy Malone and Jenny Couse.  Peggy is a health care provider who encourages her patients every day to create better habits associated with their health and wellness.  She is wife to John and mom to fur baby Calvin the fat orange cat.  Dr. Peggy is also a human being on a mission to create better habits for herself and by doing so, she hopes to inspire others to take up the challenge with her!  Jenny is a marketing professional in the international trade sector.  She and her husband Jeff are parents to hilarious 5 year old Ethan.  Her year of monthly habit resolutions in 2015 piqued her interests in how habits are created and best kept.

Join them weekly to explore how to create healthy habits that stick on the journey to becoming better humans!



Until next time,


Let’s get to work on improving your most important project.  That’s YOU!  Stay focused and get after it!

Thank you so much for listening.

Big Love,

Peggy and Jenny