If you can’t stop looking at your phone, you are not alone. On average, we are spending five hours a day on our mobile devices. That’s more than a full day a week! We tend to underestimate our usage too. I don’t want to look back in ten years reflecting on all of the amazing moments I’ve had with my phone or regret that I spent too much time scrolling.
Even if you do spend less than five hours a day on your phone, make that time more peaceful and less appealing. This is what I do to make sure I am the boss of my phone instead of the other way around. ⠀⠀
1. No email on phone.
I removed email from my phone almost three months ago and don’t miss it at all. If you notice you check email on your phone but don’t take action, or don’t take meaningful action, save the email until you are back at your desk or computer or carving out time specifically handling email instead of chipping away at it all day long.
2. No apps on the home screen or placed in neatly labeled containers.
Nope. All apps are in one folder (see lower right of my screen above). I open my apps (when I want to) by swiping right and typing the app name in the search bar. That way I’m not tempted to open an app just because I see it on my phone when I am innocently checking the time. ⠀
3. No notifications ever except for phone or text.
Turn off Facebook and other social notifications. Turn off useless reminders that apps send you to keep you engaged, on the phone and on their platform.
4. Be honest with yourself.
If you are concerned with your phone usage, notice when, how and why you use your phone and certain apps. If you want to find out where most of your phone time goes, try an app like Moment to track. For a quick glance of your mobile minutes and what apps get most of your time:
- go to settings
- click battery
- see “battery usage”
- click the little clock icon on the right
You can see your hours/minutes spent on each app for the last 24 hours or 7 days.
5. Do not disturb.
There is a Do Not Disturb feature on your phone for a reason. Mine is set from 7pm to 7am and when I’m working on projects. Airplane mode or turning your phone off works too, but when you use the Do Not Disturb feature, you can set it up so your “favorites” can still contact you. My closest people can get through if there is an emergency.
Here’s how to do it on the iPhone:
settings > do not disturb > turn it on
You can also choose scheduled times and the option to “allow favorites” and then set favorites up under your contacts.
6. Go gray.
Make your phone less appealing to look at by changing the settings to grayscale. Here’s how to set it up and easily switch back to color.
Go to: Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters. Switch Color Filters on and select Grayscale. To easily toggle between color and grayscale, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut > Color Filters. Now, you just press the home button three times to enable grayscale. Triple-click again to go back to color. (Instructions from this Lifehacker article)
May vary from model to model, so please Google instructions.
7. Slow the scroll.
If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling, put a rubber band or hair band around the middle of your phone and harness the power of the pause.
Do as Brad Soroka recommends in this article, “Every time you want to use your phone, this brings about a mindfulness exercise and makes you ask “what is my intention?” If you really want to use the phone, set your intention for why, and remove the hair band. Use Spotlight to open the app you need. While the hair band blocks the full usage of your phone, it still works with Siri, so you can use voice to make calls, get directions, and even open apps. But similar to the Spotlight technique, using Siri forces you to set your intention before opening the app you need.
8. Leave home without it.
The very best way to eliminate the distraction of your phone is by leaving it at home. Go out with out it, and schedule regular digital sabbaticals.
If you want real connection and honest answers, check your heart more than you check your phone. Less phone. More heart.
Thanks for reading today and inviting me into your inbox. I’m Courtney Carver, author of Soulful Simplicity. In 2010, I created simplicity blog, Be More with Less and minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 (featured in O, The Oprah magazine, Real Simple, CNN, BBC, and other media).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀