Easily transform the habit of phone checking
Continuing from the last post which highlighted the component parts of a habit - cue, routine, and reward, I look a bit deeper in to the topic here.
Many people mistakenly believe that simply repeating behaviours consistently will lead to the formation of habits, and whilst consistency is a key factor, it is not enough on its own.
The 'golden rule' of habit transformation is to keep the same cue or trigger ie. the sight of your iPhone, change the routine, and keep the same reward. You cannot extinguish old habits, but you can transform them and create additional new habits.
In the case of the iPhone or other brand, many many people are in the habit of excessively checking their phones in a 'loop' pattern of social media sites for instance, missing out on life, and being unproductive.
This, believe it or not, is a very simple and extremely beneficial habit to transform and anyone who will commit a small amount of conscious effort will likely change the habit to a much more satisfactory use, very quickly.
Here's how. Let's say you check your work phone out of work hours and this is impacting your personal life negatively, and it is something you would like to change. The principles are the same for other situations.
First establish the cue - this could be an event that you know is going to happen every day for example sitting down to eat dinner at 6 or 7pm with your family. This will now be the cue for the initiation of behaviour change and control of your phone. Tell your family that this is what you are committing to, so that they can help you if and when the old habit craving tries to pull you back in.
Now establish the new routine - The instant you see the cue (dinner is ready with the family) you pick up your phone, switch it off, and place it out of sight until the morning, for example in your work briefcase or bag which is out of sight.
Now establish the reward. In this case a psychological awareness of the 'fact' that you are in control of your phone, rather than it being in control of you feels excellent. Everyone is searching for the feeling of being in control, and when you are executing the new routine, become aware of the fact, and reinforce it in your mind and out loud with a statement of fact - I am in control of my phone and it feels good to be in control. The reward can also be the awareness and experience of spending quality time with your loved ones, or being able to focus on something for yourself without distraction, such as a hobby, reading etc.
If you stick to this consistently for a week, and ensure you are tying the new cue and new routine to a psychologically and physically significant reward, you will begin to develop a craving for that good feeling (the reward of knowing you are in control).
You will also become aware of the old habit every time you feel the craving to pick up the phone in the 'old habitual way'. When you become aware of this craving, realise that you are developing a stronger craving in a new, and healthier, more productive way, and when you go with the competing response, and resist the urge to pick it up in the old way, you are also experiencing the high of feeling in control.
Very quickly, within a few weeks, you will execute the new routine on sight of the phone at dinner time without conscious thought or effort, and you have transformed a powerful habit.
The establishment of the reward linked to the routine is what allows your consistent effort in the early days to make the behaviour automatic. Without the reward, and knowledge of what you are doing, consistency is not enough.
Try it, and please let me know how you get on.