"How to Break Up With Your Phone" author on practical ways to unplug

In our new series, Pay Attention, we're looking at the role technology plays in our lives in a different way: its impact on our ability to focus and how we can recapture our attention from the devices that distract us. By the end of our series we hope to find the happy medium between the two. 


Yes, you should probably delete Instagram, says Catherine Price, author of "How To Break Up With Your Phone." That's one of the many steps she suggests in her book, which offers a "30-day plan to take back your life" from your digital devices. Price told "CBS This Morning" it's not about going on a "digital diet" but rather about "finding balance."

"It's a gift to yourself," she said. "It's not about less time on your phone, it's about more time on your life, basically." 

Price and other experts contend that the addiction to your phone isn't just a habit; there's an underlying physical component in the brain. 

"The reason it makes you twitchy not to have your phone is that it's causing your brain to go into this reward cycle similar to a slot machine when you pull the slot machine lever and you want to keep doing it compulsively. That's exactly what you're doing on your phone. I mean, even to the degree of actually swiping down to see what's gonna be waiting for you. And the fact that it's unpredictable makes us want to do it even more," she said.  

Here is a breakdown of Price's 30-day plan with examples of what you can do to reset your relationship with technology:

Week 1: Technology triage

  • Delete all social media apps from your phone
  • Download a technology tracking app
  • Assess your current relationship with your phone

"So one thing that people do that messes them up when they try to change their relationship with their phone is that they jump in to making these little changes, like turning it to grayscale, without having a broader vision of what they want out of their relationship and also what they want to spend their newfound time on," Price said. 

Week 2: Changing your habits

  • Turn off your notifications
  • Change where you charge your phone
  • Establish no-phone zones and times

"Week two is where you get concrete changes. Getting a real alarm clock instead of sleeping with your phone next to your bed. [If] your phone's your alarm clock, you're going touch it first thing in the morning. So it's really about practical steps in a broader context," Price said.  

Week 3: Reclaiming your brain

  • Practice pausing
  • Meditate
  • Take a trial separation from your phone

"Our phones are basically inhibiting our abilities to focus, form new memories....So things like meditation and mindfulness, those are exercises that can help you regain abilities and undo some of those effects," Price said. 

Week 4: Your new relationship

  • Clean up the rest of your digital life -- namely your email inbox
  • Consider incorporating a "digital sabbath" into your routine 
  • Set a monthly reminder to check in with yourself

"It's an assessment of what you've done and go forward with a plan to make it stick," Price said.