Modern humans are frequently faced with the problem of choosing between using the phone or doing something else. In the laboratory, how people choose between two simple activities is well studied but they cannot address how people solve the ubiquitous problem of using the phone in the real world. Here we extended an existing priority-based decision framework to theoretically link the timing of the touchscreen taps to the priority attributed to the corresponding behavior. The inter-event times of the output from this decision process could be fully described by a 3 parameter model. Next, we recorded the touchscreen interactions from 84 volunteers for a month-long period and the inter-event times were well described by using the 3 parameter model. Based on the fitted parameters we find that in 76% of the users the overall (mean) priority of smartphone use is higher than any other activity. The underlying priority distributions estimated from the recordings were typically (82% of the population) u-shaped with the priority values concentrated at the extreme values. We conclude that the priority attributed to the smartphone is not fixed and the perceived importance of the smartphone transitions from one extreme to another.