Dave Conley

San Francisco

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Exclusive Tips for Taming Your Smartphone

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR PHONE

Try these simple changes to live more intentionally with your devices right now. 

TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS:

Notifications appear in RED dots because red is a trigger color that instantly draws our attention. But most notifications are generated by machines, not actual people. They keep our phones vibrating to lure us back into apps we don’t really need to be in.

  • Turn off notifications unless they’re from real people wanting your attention.
  • You get to keep messaging apps and your phone. Only apps where real people want your attention. Turn off everything else.
  • For most people, this leaves two or three apps: messages, phone, maybe FB Messenger. Turn off everything else, email, calendar, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, News, games.

YOUR BEDROOM IS FOR TWO THINGS AND TWO THINGS ONLY!

 …they both start with “S”

 -- NOT social media!

Get your phones, tablets, laptops, and TV out of the bedroom. 

GO GRAYSCALE

  • Colorful icons give our brains shiny rewards every time we unlock.
  • Set your phone to grayscale to remove those positive reinforcements.

TAKE A DAY OFF

  • Go on a digital diet.
  • Take a whole day off! If that’s too much, do an intermittent fast and touch it only in an 8-hour window.

HOMESCREEN ZERO

  • Move all your apps to another page so your home screen has no icons.
  • Bonus points if you put frequently used apps in the doc that aren’t phone or messages

TURN ON RESTRICTIONS

  • Restrict frequently listed websites.
  • Disable app installation.

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

  • Keep the phone off the table.
  • Studies show just having the phone out causes distraction.

GET A SMART SPEAKER

  • A smart speaker allows you to interact with your phone without using your phone.

GET A PHONE BUDDY

  • Enlist friends, family, partner, or your kids to help.
  • Help them in return.

LEAVE YOUR PHONE ON DO NOT DISTURB

  • But what if my kids need me?
  • Set them as favorites and teach them to call. It’ll ring your phone when they call twice in a row.

LAUNCH APPS BY TYPING

  • Swipe down and type the app you want to open instead of leaving bad habits on the home screen.
  • Typing takes just enough effort to make us pause and ask, “do I really want to do this?”

SEND AUDIO NOTES INSTEAD OF TYPING

Studies show that it’s common for people to misinterpret text messages, even from romantic partners, while the voice is rich with tone and less vulnerable to misinterpretation.

  • Recording a quick voice message is often faster and less stressful than typing out each letter.
  • It doesn’t require your full visual attention.

QUICK REACTIONS

  • On iOS, press and hold on a text message and you’ll see this menu of quick reactions. It’s faster than crafting a response and can also add some context, giving a taste of the emotion that’s often silently conveyed in a real, face-to-face conversation.

USE FOLDERS

  • Put apps in folders so it takes two steps to reach any app.

LOGOUT OF APPS, REENTER YOUR PASSWORD EVERY TIME

  • Making it it a two step process gives you pause before you dive into apps.

MORE TAMING TIPS

  • Track the time you spend on your cell. (Frequency for Android; Moment for iPhone.)
  • Check one thing on your phone and put it away – don’t cycle from email to Facebook to Instagram to texts to twitter – if you do a cycle, put the phone away for the hour.
  • iPhone: check battery “last 7 days” delete the most used time sinks and make it so you have to download them to check.
  • Play a game with friends: Have everyone put their phone face down on the table. The person who picks theirs up to check it has to pay the bill, sing a song, or read out loud what they’re checking.
  • Don’t substitute other screens! Tablets, computers, and TVs are the same thing. Use the same tips.
  • Go outside and play.
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