So maybe you’re like me, and you’ve realized that you’ve become too reliant on your phone! In a previous post, I talked about the incredible addiction that we now have with our phones. I talked about statistics that showed how much time we spend a day in a never-ending, mindless scroll of social media content, and how many people are taking a break from their phones or living without it altogether. I think that people who can make such a change like this or take an extended breakup from their smartphone are admirable, but I don’t think it’s realistic to ask that everyone ban their smartphones altogether. Instead, the solution is to limit ourselves and use our devices with intention.
So what does this mean?
What can we do today to have a healthier relationship with our phones and let this be a device that brings us happiness (instead of one that eats up our time or throws us into hours of self-comparison with other social media users)? I came up with an idea that I call “The iPhone Makeover.” This was inspired by a Podcast I listened to by Rachel Brathen called “From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl.”
In Episode 40 – “Setting Intentions and Manifesting Love,” Brathen discussed that she makes sure to put effort into using her smartphone with intention and going onto her phone with the purpose of adding value instead of mindless scrolling:
“We use our phones so forking much. I mean, is there a moment in your day when you don’t have your phone right next to you, or in your hand? We’re always on our phones, all the time. I am deep in the practice of trying to make my phone or keep my phone, as sacred as possible. Because I spend so much time with it, working, social media, connecting with my friends, all of this stuff, I really really really try to make a point to only connecting with my phone in a way that’s actually grounding, and that helps me stay present. It’s easy to get sucked into this endless scrolling on Instagram, and left and right, comments from people that you don’t even care about, to get sucked into things that maybe aren’t as mindful.”
She then goes into detail about how she changed the layout of her phone to make it less of a distraction. Brathen shares that on the home page of her iPhone, she removed all of the apps and moved them to next page. That way, when she goes to open her phone, she’s not instantly overwhelmed by tons of apps and notifications. She can purposefully decide where to go on her phone. That way it allows her to re-evaluate why she’s going on her phone, and avoid using it out of boredom. Brathen also shared how she started to use her Notes app with intention and writing down her thoughts, epiphanies, and daily challenges which allows her to use the phone as a way to keep her connected.
Brathen’s phone layout made me think long and hard about the way that I use my phone. Finally, I was able to come up with a perfect set up so that I began using my phone with intention. Here are ten steps that you can do right now to give yourself an iPhone Makeover:
First things first…
Go on your phone and spend some time deleting all the unnecessary apps, photos, and messages. Think of all those apps that sit on your phone that you never even open. I had tons of apps on my phone like Groupon or the Target app that I never even used, but they still took up space on my phone and I still received notifications from them regularly. Getting rid of some of that clutter on your phone makes it less stressful and less distracting.
2. Turn off notifications
Next, think about all of those apps that might be sitting on your phone that you only use every once in a while but send you notifications every day. I had so many apps that sent me notifications for no reason at all, as a reminder to go on them. And when I got a notification, even if it was something unnecessary, it would cause me to pick up on my phone, look at the notification, and then open up my phone and go on it regardless. For example, I use to get notifications from Groupon, which would cause me to pick up my phone and then waste time on social media. Take the time to go into your Settings, click on “Notifications” and decide which apps you want to allow notifications from and which ones you don’t.
3. Unsubscribe from emails
I don’t have to tell you what a pain it is to get 30 emails a day from random stores that you maybe shopped at once in your life (you probably already know). But for some reason, those big chain stores feel the need to spam us with daily emails about their sales and new arrivals. You can eliminate the email clutter once and for all by unsubscribing to all of these sites today. I like using a site called UnRoll Me. UnRoll Me is a site where you can log into your email and see every website that you’re subscribed to and then unsubscribe in just one click!
4. Disable Raise to Wake
After one of the Apple updates, I noticed that my iPhone started to wake up the moment I flipped it over and moved it. Yes, it was convenient to have it light up right away, but it caused me to be looking at my phone so much more. I would move my phone and suddenly it would light up, causing me to go onto it for no reason and waste countless hours of my time. Now I have that feature disabled, so I decide when my phone turns on. All you have to do is go into the settings, click on Display & Brightness and then turn off Raise to Wake.
5. Change the Wallpaper
This one may or may not be necessary for you to make the phone less of a distraction. But since we’re giving ourselves an iPhone Makeover, change the wallpaper of your phone. I like to change mine once in while to keep it fresh and have something new and interesting to look at.
Now that the easy changes have been made, here are the next steps to really transform the relationship with your phone:
6. Relocate the time-wasting apps
The first thing that I noticed when I was studying the layout of my phone to plan my iPhone Makeover, was that my home screen had two rows of all social media apps. That meant the second I opened my phone I would see Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Pinterest, and Snapchat. My eyes were instantly drawn towards those apps from the moment I unlocked my phone and I would open them. Even if I hadn’t even gone on my phone to go on social media, I would see the app and it would cause me to waste tons of time.
Instead, put all of the social media apps and games into folders on the second page. Putting the time-waster apps out of site and making them harder to get to, allows you to re-evaluate why you are on your phone in the first place. The few extra clicks that it takes to get to the time-wasting social media apps or games makes you think more about whether or not going on Facebook or Instagram is the best use of your time.
7. Replace your old apps and download new ones
Once you’ve deleted apps that you don’t need or you waste too much time on, add apps to your phone that align with your values and are a better use of your free time. Since we’ve gotten into this habit of grabbing our phones the second we’re bored, it’s important to selectively choose apps that are more thoughtful. So now, instead of having two rows of social media apps on the home page, I installed apps that allow me to be more productive, mindful and spend my free time learning something new. Now, I’m going on apps where I can read articles, search for books, and learning new vocabulary.
8. Install an app blocker
If you’ve made changes to your phone, but you’re still noticing that the social media apps are a distraction, I recommend downloading an app blocker or an app that tracks your activity. A few that I’ve heard great things about are apps called “Quality Time” and “In Moment.” Apps like these show your own smartphone usage daily, gives you reports on the amount of time you spend on certain apps, and allow you to set usage limits or block apps when you should be focused on other things.
9. Edit your Notes app
Before I gave myself an iPhone Makeover, my Notes app used to be a hot mess. It was cluttered, disorganized, and confusing. Even though I used it every day, it wasn’t as helpful as it could have been. Now, I create folders within my Notes app to separate notes for work, my blog, errands, or inspirational quotes or messages. Now, instead of having a long list of disorganized notes, everything is neat and easy to find. I also highly recommend using your Notes app the way that Rachel Brathen does. Using your smartphone notes to record any inspirational quotes, thoughts, and epiphanies is a way to utilize your phone to keep you grounded and connected to the important things in life.
Like I said before, and will probably say many more times throughout my posts – I don’t think that technology is evil or we should ban it all together. But many people today have become Lost Online, spending almost every waking hour on their devices, completely oblivious to the wonderful and real world around them. It’s important to find ways to utilize our technology so it adds value to our lives and leaves us feeling happy, instead of feeling constantly distracted.
Let me know if you decided to give yourself your own iPhone Makeover and if any of these tips helped you! And don’t forget to comment below if you have any of your own suggestions to make our smartphones less of a distraction.
Photographer: Allen Fajardo @alewafeni.