Do you find yourself reaching for your phone almost subconsciously whenever you hit a lull throughout the day? Us, too. Sometimes even during the ninety seconds it takes for the water to boil in the morning, I realize I’m on the Instagram app with no memory of how I got there. 

Cell phones were designed to be almost addictive, so it’s not a personal character flaw if you find yourself anxious to be without your phone or you have trouble controlling your phone usage. But we’re not totally powerless—the more you get off your phone, the easier it is to stay off, so here are dozens of things you can do instead of reaching for your phone.

If any of these activities spark your interest, see if you can train yourself to reach for something else instead of mindlessly going for the phone. Some are fun, phoneless solitary activities, some involve chores, some involve getting some physical activity, and some help you get social without social media. 

Creative Things to Do Instead of Reaching for Your Phone

  1. Paint or draw a picture.
  2. Write a poem.
  3. Knit (or learn how to). 🧶
  4. Or learn to crochet.
  5. Or pick up embroidery or cross stitching.
  6. Start a simple DIY project like painting a dresser or table.
  7. Sing a song.
  8. Write a journal entry, even if it’s only a couple of sentences about what you did today.
  9. Pick up an instrument, if you play.
  10. Choreograph a dance.
  11. Scrapbook.
  12. Make your own candles.
  13. Color in an adult coloring book.
  14. Learn some simple origami.

Activities to Do at Home Rather Than Scroll

  1. Do (or start) a puzzle.
  2. Read a newspaper or magazine article (keep them lying around to encourage casual reading instead of phone scrolling!).
  3. Read a book.
  4. Listen to a podcast.
  5. Play solitaire.
  6. Do a crossword.
  7. Do a Sudoku.
  8. Play with your dog, cat, or other pet.
  9. Play a video game. 🎮
  10. Bake something.
  11. Learn or practice a second language. Here are some apps to help.
  12. Make a music playlist.
  13. Watch a show or movie, and stay engaged with it.
  14. Write up a bucket list.
  15. Find a pen pal.
  16. Browse job openings. (It never hurts to keep an eye out!).

Activities to Do Outside the House

  1. Go on a short walk. 
  2. Or a long walk!
  3. Go thrifting.
  4. Window shop.
  5. Go to the farmers’ market.
  6. Volunteer.
  7. Run an errand.
  8. Pop outside for some fresh air.
  9. Go on a bike ride. 🚲
  10. Go to the gym.
  11. Go hiking.
  12. Go to a workout class.

Chores to Complete Instead of Going on Your Phone

  1. Set a timer and tidy for five minutes.
  2. Empty the dishwasher.
  3. Make the bed.
  4. Water the plants (or just check them if they don’t need water). 🪴
  5. Vacuum.
  6. Write a grocery list.
  7. Cook a nice meal.
  8. Meal prep ingredients you like to use—cook rice, chop up broccoli, or cook dried beans.
  9. Make quick pickled vegetables.
  10. Go through your closet and choose items to donate.
  11. Organize your closet by color.
  12. Mend clothing that has a hole in it. 🪡
  13. Clean your desk/workspace.
  14. Change your bedsheets.
  15. Clean the shower.
  16. Clean out your purse or wallet.
  17. Make a weekly or monthly to-do list.
  18. Dust the shelves.
  19. Clean out the fridge.
  20. Clean the kitchen sink.

Physical Activities to Do Instead of Scrolling

  1. Stretch or practice yoga.
  2. Do ten push-ups.
  3. Or crunches, pullups, etc.
  4. Go on the treadmill/elliptical/stationary bike if you have one.
  5. Head outside and draw some hopscotch.
  6. Hula hoop.
  7. Play catch.
  8. Lift weights if you have some. 
  9. Dance to your favorite song. 💃
  10. Jump rope.
  11. Roller skate or rollerblade.

Self-Care Activities to Do Instead of Reaching for Your Phone

  1. Do a face mask.
  2. Meditate.
  3. Cut or file your nails.
  4. Paint your nails.
  5. Take a bath.
  6. Apply body lotion all over.
  7. Sunbathe outside. 🕶
  8. Take a nap!
  9. Foam roll tired muscles.
  10. Make a vision board or a mood board.
  11. Watch a YouTube video to learn something new.
  12. Diffuse essential oils or light some incense.
  13. Draw a tarot card or spread.
  14. Make a cup of tea (and don’t scroll while the water’s boiling).
  15. Do your makeup just for fun.

Social Activities to Stay Connected Without Your Phone

  1. Strike up a conversation with your partner/roommate/parents if you live with others.
  2. Write a letter or note to a loved one. 💌
  3. Host a game night with friends.
  4. Grab coffee with a friend.
  5. Have a conversation with a barista at your local coffee shop.
  6. Bake something and bring it to a neighbor or friend.
  7. Go to the park and people-watch.
  8. Have a phone-free date with your partner.
  9. Go on a hike or walk with a friend or family member.
  10. Try out a new restaurant with a loved one.
  11. Have a manicure/pedicure date.

Natalie Gale is a Boston-based freelance journalist. When she’s not writing about art, food, or sustainability, you can find her biking to the farmers’ market, baking, sewing, or planning her next Halloween costume. Say hi on Instagram!