The AIR Method - Phase V
Descending the mountain & Final wrap-up
The AIR Method now has it’s own URL, airmethod.net for easy remembering/sharing!
There’s been a lot of subscribers since the last AIR method installment. If you’re new here- this is my guide to beating smartphone addiction by re-imagining it as a tool. You can find the start here.
Phase V is descending the mountain. You’ve made past the hardest parts, un-hooked yourself from the tendrils of most addictive apps. Take a moment to appreciate the view and the progress you’ve made! Now it’s just a matter of climbing back down the mountain, back to reality and real life. You are ready to start Phase V if:
You do not have any “junk food” apps on your device anymore.
You’re still scrolling when bored/stressed/anxious, but the content is more wholesome/educational.
You’re finding it generally a little easier to put the phone down.
The hardest part now is just sticking with the plan. It’s surprisingly easy to forget the addictiveness of “junk food” apps when they’re not around, and there’s a tendency to become overconfident in your abilities to resist their pull.
Do with “whole grain” apps what you previously did with “junk food”.
Strengthen Your “Work on Longer-Term Goals” Muscle.
Go live your life!
1 - Repeat Phases 3 and 4, but With Your Remaining Entertainment apps.
In earlier phases, the goal was to stop scrolling “junk food” on your phone. Now the goal is to remove all entertainment so that the final re-visualizing of your phone as a tool can fully take shape:
Look up your average screen times on your “whole grain” entertainment.
Set your screen time/Digital wellbeing timers to five minutes OVER your average.
Slowly wind them down in small increments until you’re ready to uninstall.
You should find it’s a lot easier to wind down the “whole grains” as compared to the “junk food” (and that’s the point).
2 - Strengthen Your “Work on Longer-Term Goals” Muscle.
This part of the AIR Method feels a little like work (sorry for lying back in the intro). But now that you have broken the spell of addictive apps, the notion of “getting started on something more meaningful” should feel much more attainable.
If your progress is going anything like mine, eliminating junk food has already dramatically reduced your screen time from what it was, and that time has been filled with more productive tasks.
In Phase III we talked about taking “mini digital detoxes”. But now, as you’re winding down your whole grains timers, you’ll find yourself confronted with open swaths of indefinite time and nothing to scroll. A big reason people pull out their phones in the first place is not because they’re bored, it’s because they’re overwhelmed. Sometimes, even the effort it takes to begin something pleasant —a new novel for example— can feel more burdensome than the instant distractions offered by your phone. Many of us know the feeling of mindlessly taking our devices back out the second we just put it away. That’s because the mental work of choosing something to do is harder than scrolling.
A trick I’ve found useful for times like this is the “Ten Minute Rule”. If you don’t feel like doing something, try it for ten minutes. You may be surprised how easy it gets.
Protip: Be Bored Sometimes
Or, —and this may be a little controversial— but when your timers are up you could also just do nothing. It’s free and doesn’t hurt anyone. For some reason society doesn’t judge someone staring at a screen, but it is very quick to judge someone doing “nothing”. But remember: the desire to “optimize every second” is the same mindset that often leads one to mindless scrolling in the first place because it can simulate feelings of productivity. Be bored. Boredom is broccoli, after all.
Also, I still recommend getting a dedicated tablet for all your whole grain scrolling:
Protip: Be Vigilant
If you do reinstall an app for some reason, just delete it when that reason is over. Remember: your phone is a tool.
It’s pretty easy to stumble backwards down the mountain if you’re not vigilant. You may find yourself re-installing Instagram to get the address of an event, or re-installing TikTok or YouTube to pass the time during an unexpectedly long airport delay and then “forget” to delete the apps after. It’s easy to think “I’m not addicted anymore so it can’t hurt me”, but it’s kinda like when an alcoholic has an uneventful glass of wine at a wedding and they convince themselves this time they’ve got it under control. As the start of this guide reminds us:
“You can try having self-control, but there are a thousand engineers on the other side of the screen working against you.” ― Tristan Harris
An occasional glass of wine doesn’t turn Jeckyll into Hyde. An occasional flip through TikTok won’t kill you either. It’s the habit that’s unhealthy, and these apps are engineered to be habit-forming. You shouldn’t feel afraid of technology or that you need avoid it like the plague, just be aware of how it hooks into your brain and be vigilant to not let the habit re-form by not keeping addictive junk on your device at all times.
Final Step - Go Live Your Life!
That’s it! I’ve taught you all I know. What you do with your time now is up to you.
Please share any feedback on how the AIR Method worked for you, if you have any questions, tips (or tricks) to add, or if there’s anything you’d change!
If this guide helped you and you’d like to support Stay Grounded, you can use code AIRMETHOD to get 50% off a subscription (forever). That’s only $1.80/month!
If you “relapse” with a specific app, just go back to Phase I, Step 4 of the AIR Method, which is “forgive yourself”. It’s not a failure of your character. This shit is addictive!
It may feel defeating and appear to be a major setback since it took you months to get here, but with the skills you learned along the way you’ll find it’s much easier to get that timer back down to zero than it was the first time.
I’m having trouble deciding whether Substack is “whole grain” or “junk food” (especially with the recent addition of Notes). Somewhere in between maybe.
Man is the most invasive, non-native, species that ever roamed the planet. Eons & Eons.
So now this unraveling of humanity enters his domains equipped with a battery powered GPS.
Such allowing a usage and abusage to flourish at exponential levels. US/Mex border free phones?