Are you a phone addict like me? Here is how I was able to reduce my phone time by 90%

Brian Kepha
7 min readJul 9, 2023

I am one of those people who used to spend my whole life on my phone switching from one app to the next. My routine would be to wake up and check my Twitter timeline immediately, I wouldn’t even check whether I had motor functions in my legs or even whether my breathing was normal.

You know you have a problem when your phone is the first thing you think about as soon as you wake up. After about 20 minutes of just endlessly scrolling Twitter, I would then switch to Reddit, my favorite subreddit is the r/Aww subreddit where I can endlessly admire cute puppies and cats for another 10 minutes, then I’d switch to Instagram. Trust me Instagram algorithm is one sick one, it serves you 10 times what you like without trying to give you diversity and so there I am in the morning stuck on my screen watching fire edits of cool anime scenes and those old awesome videos of young Ronaldo dribbling and taking unreal freekicks 🤣 and boom, I am totally hooked, that’s probably 40 minutes of my time being super unproductive every morning and yet it is in the morning when the mind is at it’s best and instead of putting that to good use, It had me stuck endlessly on the screen watching unnecessary content being a complete Zombie.

Thank God I eventually realized I needed to be stopped and I did. I got out before it is too late and now if you are reading this, you probably should too. This is your cue to change or perish.

Now let me walk you through every step of how I was able to get myself out of this particular mess. Walk with me here. The first step to solving a problem is accepting that you have the problem and showing determination to fix it. This means that if you have no problem spending half your productive hours on your phone then you should probably leave since this will just be time wastage for you. I’m serious, if it’s not a problem for you then leave. Okay, now that we have separated the wheat from the chaff, let us move on to step two.

Step two involves decluttering your phone since it is the gateway to all these social media networks. Let me show you how I did it. Before we continue, you need to know that this is a one-week activity that is meant to make you realize that social media isn’t that big of a deal. If after one week you still have the urge to continue like before, then I am sorry, I might need to invent a new tactic.

Here is what I did. I deleted all the social media applications I had on my Android phone. They included Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit, WhatsApp, and even Pinterest, you might laugh about Pinterest but you have no idea how addictive that app can get. All that was left were factory applications, banking apps, email, phone, and sms applications as well as my Authenticator app. My phone looked and still looks like this.

Now deleting the apps is the easiest part because after that I started to suffer withdrawal, I’d pick up my phone every two minutes and try to open an app that isn’t there and that would leave me frustrated, Aargh! I also started to observe myself and I realized that I would pick up my phone after every three minutes, it was a reflex that was programmed and etched into my brain. And the whole first day of doing this, I basically kept picking up my phone to open WhatsApp, Twitter, and the others even though there was no reason to and each time got frustrated to find out I had deleted them. I started thinking of relapsing and just re-install them and just give up.

But then again, I had come this far, I might as well continue. So in order to stop myself from re-installing these Apps, I had to get rid of Google Play Store. I know right crazy. Now the thing is, you can’t just delete the play store, the system will not allow you to, It is a system App. So I had to find a quick solution, a way to disable system applications on Android.

To disable system apps, I had to use ADB(Android Debug Bridge), then connect my phone to my computer and send those commands via a cable connection. In order to get Android Debug Bridge, open this link https://developer.android.com/tools/releases/platform-tools.And depending on what platform you are using, download the corresponding tool.

I use Linux so I downloaded ADB for Linux. I downloaded it on my desktop. Then I immediately uncompressed it and got a folder named platform-tools on my desktop

The next step would be to open the folder and open the terminal from that folder, on Linux just right-click and select Open Terminal Here, on Windows open CMD in the folder path.

Next, you will need a well-functioning cable to connect your Android phone to your pc. Note that this process doesn’t work for iPhones. Then in your Android Developer options, you will need to enable USB Debugging.

Now, you should note that enabling Developer options on your Android is different for every OEM because of the different skins they slap on top of Android. So just do a little search on Google for “How to enable Developer options on <<Samsung/Pixel/Xiaomi/Sony/Motorola/Tecno >>. Depending on what phone brand you search find an article that walks you through it.

After enabling Developer Options and USB Debugging, Plug in your phone to your pc/mac and then go to the terminal on Linux or CMD on Windows and type in the following commands.

For Windows CMD

adb start-server
adb devices

For Linux and Mac Terminal

 ./adb start-server
./adb devices

The first command will start the adb server at a specific port as shown below:

The second command will find any devices connected which should show your device. For first-time connection, the adb server will prompt your device for a handshake, accept the prompt, and run adb devices AGAIN to see your devices on the list of adb devices with the serial number. For security reasons, my serial number is blurred.

From this point now we can achieve our goal. We will now go into the phone where we will find the system files and try to disable Playstore. Next, type the following command.

For Windows CMD

adb shell

For Linux and Mac Terminal

./adb shell

This will bring up the prompt below depending on the codename of our device. My device codename is camellian

The next command will uninstall the play store app.

pm uninstall -k --user 0 com.android.vending

And when it says success, you know the app is uninstalled successfully, so now we can nolonger access the Google Play store hence no more temptation.

So now we have achieved our second mission, we are unable to re-install the apps that take up all our time. I call that a win.

This was a great way to wean me off my phone. Now that the phone issue was taken care of, I had to also make sure to block all alternative routes to the internet. These included logging out of WhatsApp web, Twitter, Reddit and all these social media apps on my browser.And to make sure I stayed consistent, deleted the passwords from Google Autofill. How does this help you ask? Well, all my passwords are autogenerated and stored in password managers, this basically means that I do not know any of my passwords except for Google account password. So by deleting autofill from Google, I will need to reset the passwords to log in, don’t forget all the accounts have two factor authentication which makes the login process that much tedious.

Combining all these hurdles I set up for myself, in the beginning, I got frustrated so much I stopped trying to log in to social media apps and started doing productive things to keep my mind off them, these included writing more, finishing projects I previously did not have time for, exercise e.t.c

A decision like this that seems so tiny has been a huge turning point for me. It’s been almost two weeks and I realize I do not need social media that much , after the one-week sabbatical, I logged back into my accounts except I only spend 10 minutes every day across all social media platforms, on TikTok,I simply log in to upload my videos, then Twitter to check if anyone contacted me, write a tweet or two and disappear.

One thing to note, this will mostly help if social media is taking up your productive time if social media is primary income source, well, that would be different because the time you spend there would be considered productive. I hope this article was useful

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