Do these things right now to transform the way you use your phone. Use the time you save on things that make a difference.
In today’s world, a Smartphone is the best example of something that can be both a curse and a blessing — depending on how you use it and what role it plays in your life.
If used mindlessly, mobile phones can be a huge time sink. It will drag you down into an abyss of infinite scroll and passive consumption.
On the other hand, if used deliberately, your phone can be one of your biggest productivity tools. It can also help with your physical and mental health.
The detail is in the way you use your phone.
In this blog post, however, I will focus on how you can reduce your phone usage overall. I am going to assume that your smartphone is negatively affecting your life, and because of that, you want to use it less.
If you are using your phone productively, feel free to cross out of this blog post. I don’t think you will get any value out of it.
That being said, let’s look at 5 ways you can make your phone less appealing and more designed to be used mindfully.
Why Use Your Phone Less?
Through my personal experiences, I have seen great positive changes in my life once I started using my phone less and less.
Some clear benefits were:
- Increased attention span
- Easier to focus on things
- Fewer distractions
- Think deeply about things
- Consume more meaningful content
- Improved critical thinking skills
- More meaningful relationships and experiences
Once again, the list above is very personal to me. I am sure your mileage will vary given your existing relationship with your phone, and where you are in life.
However, if you get at least one of these benefits in your life, this blog post will be worth the time I am spending writing it.
Delete All Social Media Apps
This one is simple. You must have heard it at least a hundred times.
Why does everyone recommend this? Because it works.
I have literally saved hours of screen time just by deleting social media apps. What did I lose from my life doing that? Literally nothing.
I still stay in touch with my loved ones through messaging apps. I know enough about their lives by hanging out with them and talking over the phone, rather than finding them through Instagram stories and posts.
If you have one takeaway from this post, please let it be this one.
Try this for a couple of weeks and you will see the results for yourself. It can truly be life-changing.
Social media apps are engineered to steal as much of your time and attention as possible. The more you are on these platforms, the more money the platforms make. There is literally no incentive to get you off your screen.
Some of you might wonder how can you live without social media. It’s not difficult. You can still log in through your laptop or iPad. Just don’t keep it on your phone.
Screen Time Widget on Home Screen
If you are using an iPhone, you have access to Apple’s screen time widget.
The widget gives you a ton of good information:
- Total screen time for the day
- Category of apps you are using
- Top apps you have spent the most time on
- How your usage varies over the course of a day
If you look at these metrics through a critical lens, you will find ten things you can do to optimize your phone usage.
At the very least, this widget will act as a reminder for keeping your phone away if you see your screen time creeping up slowly over the course of a day.
Personally, I don’t have it on my home page. However, I do look at it from time to time. When I started improving my relationship with my phone, I did use this widget, and the tool overall, and I could not recommend this enough.
Set Time Limit Per App
Through Apple’s Screen Time tool in Settings, you can set daily time limits for every app.
That means, whenever you have spent X minutes on an app, your phone will give you a reminder to get off the app. It’s not a perfect solution. There is a button you can press to just keep using the app regardless. However, at least you are making a conscious decision at that point, rather than being on autopilot.
Personally, I have set these limits:
- Messenger → 15 minutes
- FaceTime → 30 minutes
- Spark Mail → 15 minutes
- YouTube → 20 minutes
If you don’t want to dive deep into screen time, for starters, please do this for the apps that you think you spend the most time on.
Change Color to Grayscale
This is one of the more extreme measures.
Our brains are very good at getting distracted by shiny images and videos. A pop of color on some content will literally make it ten times more exciting and fun to look at.
Social media apps, and even other apps in general, are engineering for your time and attention. Companies spend billions of dollars every year just to keep you on their app for a few extra minutes.
They make images prettier to look at and videos distorted by filters. They don’t reflect reality. They are just pretty to look at and get lost in.
One way you can make everything a little less appealing to look at is by changing the color mode to grayscale.
This adds a filter to your phone where your screen will be black and white. That means, no more colors to distract you.
One of the best features Apple has launched is Focus Mode.
If used correctly, focus modes can transform your relationship with your phone.
For starters, I would recommend setting a custom Do Not Disturb (DND) focus which will block out all notifications and remove all frequently used (but distracting) apps from your home screens.
You can get really nerdy and geeky with focus modes. They are extremely personalizable. I would highly recommend checking it out.
I hope you found this a valuable read and have some takeaways that you can go ahead and implement in your wonderful lives.
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