Prior to the decision to completely shift my phone usage, I used to be a compulsive phone checker - I didn't realize how much time and energy I wasted on my phone when I should have been engaging in the present moment, particularly in productive activities and thoughts. I used to waste so much time on the question of why someone hasn't texted me back yet or what I should say to someone. The truth is that I searched for emotional fulfillment where I shouldn't have--in a more abstract sense, I searched for it in sources out of my control, whereas I should have focused my attention more on that which can be controlled.
Some friends suggested that I shut off my phone for long periods of time without certain considerations to matters like maintaining necessary communications, keeping in reasonable contact with friends and family, and thinking of a plan that would work out in the long-term.
The best result came from the decision to check my phone and respond to messages at 3 p.m., 7 p.m., and 10 p.m.
I wanted to ensure that earlier times in the day were devoted to more important matters, instead of the unnecessary stress and distraction brought upon by texting and other forms of communication. I wanted to have a complete focus on my work, taking care of my dog and myself, as well as other commitments I've made.
The distracting effects of my phone aren't limited to the time spent phone in-hand, but rather an all-encompassing impulse to go round and round circular (and relatively unimportant) thoughts and pick up the phone again. Choosing to check my phone at set times allows me to disengage with these thoughts and wait until next time to address them. Every time I have the urge to check my phone and successfully do so actually strengthens the urges in the long-term; as a result, associating phone-checking with a specific time instead of an urge acts to impart increased control of my behaviors.
Within a few days, I started to feel less scattered. The pang of anxiety over texts and notifications dissipated, and I began to put less weight on digital communication. I allowed myself to simply breathe and engage with my own life and all of its controllable aspects. I can't even describe the weight that's been lifted off my chest, and it's such a delicious feeling to be completely and utterly here--not there, in some nebulous world of wondering and waiting for my phone to ping.