For years, I felt like my phone ruled me — a small, buzzing, bright-faced dictator in my pocket.

I used to only check on it when it rang.

But in time, I would preemptively check it.

Then I would click into each app for the latest news and notifications.

Before long I was reaching for my phone and tapping open my email app unconsciously.

I would check my phone to feel connected and in control.

But it was just an illusion of control.

In fact, my obsession to constantly check my phone and each app was only an example of my lack of self-control.

Once I realized that my phone was more of a distraction than a tool, I tried a whole bunch of “hacks”.

  • I cleared out my home screen.
  • I deleted most of my apps.
  • I even removed my data plan for a short time.

None of these worked for me.

True, I found myself using my phone less — but I also lost the productive benefits that can be had with a smartphone.

There was one habit, however, that has stuck with me — and it has hands-down improved my quality of life and made me feel (slightly) less of a slave to my technology.

I call it toothbrush to toothbrush.

  • I don’t check my phone after I brush my teeth at night.
  • And I don’t pick up my phone until after I brush my teeth in the morning.

It’s a simple rule I have found easy to remember and easy to implement.

(Side note: I learned from Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits, that new habits are easier to develop when you tack them onto an existing habit or action in your life. Since I already brush my teeth at night and in the morning, it was easy for me to link a new behavioral habit to this action.)

With my toothbrush to toothbrush rule, it means no late-night Instagram scrolling or stressing out about work emails before going to bed.

And in the morning, it means that I don’t even confront my inbox until I have had a few moments to myself.

This small development of willpower in the morning and evening has developed into a greater sense of control over my phone throughout the day.

I have been on this schedule for a few years now and recently expanded it a bit:

  • I set my phone to “airplane mode” and keep it outside of my bedroom when I'm sleeping.
  • I don’t check my phone until I have finished my one non-negotiable habit in the morning (as mentioned in a previous Mindfully Mailed message, for me it's stretching).

And this is gonna get a bit personal, but I’m gonna go there…

  • No phone-checking on the toilet.

I actually have a lot more to say about mindfulness in the bathroom — but maybe I’ll save that for a future email 😉.

Dave Radparvar
Co-Founder, Holstee

P.S. In our Wellness Guide, we share tips for building habits around the six dimensions of wellness — physical, spiritual, environmental, emotional, intellectual and social. Learn more about the Holstee Membership and join today →

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