As a person struggling for many years with Kedusha on various fronts including smartphone ownership, the shmuess is as follows:
On the one hand, we see that, for example, in Al Chet we confess even to things that might be called madreigos, or quite a lofty level of repentance. In this light, Teshuva is requisite for everything, every misstep or slip-up. On the other hand, our mashgichim have always told us, “me’at me’at agoreshenu” and that as long as we are progressing, albeit slowly, on the right path, that is the ikar. So what is Teshuva: the little things, or the big picture?
I've come up with the theory that it is neither.
Teshuva is the changing of a value system. When it comes to values, a person needs to concede that the end-goal, the supreme value, is to not own a smartphone. A person must face the realization that the ultimate good is to not have any relationship with the web and the owning of a smartphone counters this ideal.
Now human nature is such that the implementation of such a value system into practical action can take time. When it comes to our actual behavior we recognize that change may take years and years and hence - the Chiyuv of Teshuva is to put effort into change. The effort put in is the Teshuva, and every bit of blood, sweat, and tears that come out is the Teshuva, regardless of what the final result is.
Practice, practice, practice. I once met a boy who can play the violin well, so he commutes approximately an hour and a half every day, by way of two buses, to practice. Even the people of greatest skill put in amounts of training and practice that would make anybody a professional. Indeed, this is the idea of “Sheva Yipol Tzadik V’kom”, because as far as the final outcome is concerned, we human beings have no control - that is Bidei Shomayim. What is in our hands is to try our hardest, to learn Mussar to make Gedorim U’seyogim etc. So the often-experienced feeling of, “I’m going to struggle for an hour and then I’m going to fail, so why bother?” is totally misguided, because the struggle IS the Teshuva. Like Reb Eliezer’s wife said, a person should have a glass even for a day, though it will smash later.
In summary, the Chidush is that Teshuva is not only the destination, it’s the path too. It’s not just the result, it’s the means to it as well. What our Teshuva consists of is only trying, struggling, pleading, abstaining, and in that, every moment is precious and indeed, the result we need.
This knowledge should give us the energy to keep pushing, because it isn’t an investment where we will only see the return in 20 years, we are making money now, every minute.
The conclusion here is that the pain and the effort are the point. And as the Gemara says, Odom rotze bekav shelo, something that is attained through one’s own effort, is worth tenfold more than anything else.