Zero judgement here — we all do it. It’s practically muscle memory at this point. It starts with pulling out your phone, and typically ends with scrolling social media until you’ve lost all sense of time and space. You’re in the waiting room at the dentist, sitting under a dryer at the salon, hanging out in your driveway waiting for Uber, and your hand automatically begins this robotic ritual.

With just a little bit of resolve, you can regain control over these small moments that have a big impact on your overall mood and productivity.

Below are ten positive, productive, even inspiring things you can do with a smartphone (most inside of 15 minutes or fewer.) If you’re having trouble breaking the mindless scroll routine, consider deleting social apps from your phone temporarily. You’ll find that those little free moments you have throughout the day are precious opportunities that should be spent wisely — whether it’s reconnecting with an old friend, learning something new, or taking a moment for self care. Read on to discover ten smart ideas for things to do on your phone other than scrolling.

photo by belathée

Listen to this episode of the Second Life podcast.

photo by molly winters

Brush on your geography skills (or art history, or foreign language) with Brainscape.

photo by hannah haston

Do this 15 minute stretch class from Alo Moves.

photo by kate lesueur

Go through your photo stream and delete photos you don’t need.

photo by the cook’s atelier

Call your mom.

Read an essay from Joan Didion’s The White Album.

photo by teal thomsen

Do this free 10 minute meditation from Headspace.

photo by belathée

Color something fun using the adult coloring book app Color Therapy.

photo by fashion and style

Catch up on newsletters from your favorite publications.

photo by kate lesueur

Text an old friend from college (or high school, or camp…) just to say hi and that you’re thinking about them.


  1. 1
    Aimee | January 21, 2020 at 11:55 am

    I love this post. I agree that it’s not just about the amount of time we waste “scrolling” but what it does to our attention span and overall mood that is detrimental. You’ve listed great alternatives to the mindless scroll if the urge to pick up your phone is overwhelming.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *