Motivate the Mind
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Motivate the Mind

Deleting The Game Apps On My Phone Wasn’t An Easy Feat

I was a smartphone game addict.

Photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash

I’m not really one who plays games, whether they’re on smart devices or on the computer. I had some on my iPad but I only played with them very occasionally.

I started getting into game apps when my sister introduced Tsum Tsum to me back in the early 2010s. I was still able to manage my time and have self-control when playing these games at the time.

Enter Adulthood.

Tsum Tsum became the game to get my day started — warming up my mind and body before going to work, the game to occupy my time during my commute, and my go-to game to unwind at the end of the day.

Slowly but surely, more games filled up my iPhone. Some were never touched while others had more game time with me.

Soon…

It took me longer to get out of bed. After using up my hearts on the Tsum Tsum game, I’d move on to the next game, and the next, until I run out of excuses to keep myself in bed.

At work, whenever I needed a break, my phone would be in front of me ready to keep me entertained. But really, it’s my short escape from tiring and tedious work I didn’t want to deal with.

Whenever I felt frustrated, I would turn to my games for comfort and refuge. It was always there for me. Sometimes, I’d play my games while I’m working.

Even though it was a great destress method at the time, it also extended my working hours. But I convinced myself — it was better to keep myself mentally sane even if I had to work overtime due to the decline in my working speed.

It didn’t take long before I was mindlessly swiping and tapping on my screen. Even when I was playing the game, my mind was still stuck on work. My brain would scroll through every task I needed to do and yell at my fingers to work on the appropriate stuff. But they would not heed my brain’s order as my lifeless shell of a body submitted to the bad habits I’ve developed over time.

I brought this habit with me to Japan.

I didn’t have a full-time job. I was a freelancer, teaching English online and acting on the side. So the games occupied the rest of my time when I wasn’t working. And I wasn’t working very frequently either. It was also a distraction from feeling depressed about not having a proper job.

I couldn’t even watch films without my phone in my hand or my fingers tapping away. I found myself having to keep going back because I wasn’t paying attention or missed an important shot or scene that was crucial to the storytelling. I used to love watching music videos as well and I didn’t have the patience to give it my full attention for the short three to four minutes.

I knew I had to quit this terrible habit. I was addicted to my games. At this point, it was taking up most of my time. I would use my games to enable procrastination. Two hours here, two hours there, and the next thing I knew, the sun had gone down. Whenever I felt restless, I would whip my phone out.

It was my escape, my distraction, my everything.

I had better things to do. But I’d push it to the next day. And the next. And the next. You know how it goes.

Until there wasn’t any time left.

Sometimes, knowing you have to quit makes up one story. But actually putting it into action is another. And it takes time to get to the latter. Even though my mind knew what had to be done, my body and heart weren’t ready to let go. Even though I kept saying I need to stop playing my games, I couldn’t put it into action.

Finally, one day in April this year, I had enough. I needed to evolve as a person. I needed to do better with my time.

I went to my category of game apps. I stared at it for the longest time. I got the widgets to do their shake as the minus signs appeared at the top corner of each game icon.

My heart thumped like a beating drum. It’s just games. Why was it so hard for me to delete them?

It wasn’t the games that made it hard. It was breaking the habit that was painful.

And I couldn’t do it.

I handed my phone to my husband. And I asked him to do it for me.

He helped me delete most of the apps. I still kept some for a while. My excuse? I needed to finish the quest. However, I didn’t delete the game even after I finished the mission. Because new missions kept coming up and got my attention. It took another couple of weeks for me to get to that mental space.

This time, I deleted them. I felt a little sting in my heart as I clicked ‘yes’ to the prompt. It was like saying goodbye to a long-time lover.

Did I delete all of the apps? No, I have one game remaining. It’s a coloring game.

Why didn’t I delete that? Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of this journey?
I don’t think so. The games that were addictive to me were already deleted. This was one of the games that I put on hiatus for the longest time. There were no tasks or missions to complete in this game. I could take however long to color a single picture. Plus, coloring one picture takes up way too much time and I get tired after ten to fifteen minutes.

I barely played the game even till today. I would spend a couple of minutes on it but not like how I would spend hours on games in the past.

Did this action change my life?

It wasn’t a drastic life-changing moment but it did make some great improvements in my daily lifestyle.

I finally gave the tasks I needed to accomplish my full attention. I could finally complete my tasks within the day without having to delay them unnecessarily. And I’m finally paying attention to movies, TV shows, and Youtube videos again.

I’ve also finally returned my attention to other more productive hobbies like reading, singing and memorizing lyrics, trying out new dance moves, and color-grading my photos.

When I saw someone playing Tsum Tsum in the cinema while waiting for the movie to start, I couldn’t help but smile. The nostalgia came creeping back. Surprisingly, I didn’t have the itch to re-download and play the game or any game for that matter. Even though it took me time to get here, I’m glad I finally put my thoughts into action.

Maybe I’ll download game apps again. Perhaps by then, I would have better discipline. But that will be in the far far future.

For now, being in the present is my priority.

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