Escaping the Smartphone Trap: A 5-Step Guide

I see some dads at my swim club on their phones the whole time.

I don’t want to be “that guy”. You don’t want to be either.

Let’s talk about how to set ourselves up for success by fixing our environment.

Have you heard of the light phone? It’s like a cross between a flip phone/mp3 player, in terms of function, and a Kindle, in terms of form.

What I’m exploring lately is how to structure my phone so I get all the focus benefits of the “light phone” while avoiding the common trappings that come with a smartphone.

Having all your social media, news, and email on your phone, and notifications turned on, is the cognitive equivalent of walking around with a sleeve of chocolate chip cookies all day. (What’s one more bite?)

Here are 5 practices I’m doing to prevent extensive use of my device:

  1. Home screen structure should be boring but useful. Keep the apps that benefit you most front & center (example below).
  2. Notifications should be turned off for almost all apps.
    1. On the iPhone go to settings ➡ screen time ➡ App Limits ➡ Add Limit
  3. Time Restrictions let’s say you’re trying to build an audience on a platform so you want to post their daily. But you know there is diminishing returns after the initial 10 minutes on the platform. You can set up a time restriction.
  4. Added Friction by removing apps I don’t use. When you do this anytime you do want to indulge in cognitive cotton candy you need to go through those steps to download the app, then you can delete it again once you are done. To do this:
    1. On the iPhone go to settings ➡ screen time ➡ content & privacy restrictions ➡ iTunes & App Store Purchases ➡ Installing Apps ➡ Don’t Allow.
  5. Don’t take it with you when you don’t need it. Going to bed? Leave your phone downstairs. Going for a walk with your family? Leave the phone at home, the gang is all here. People have gone along for a long time without their phones attached to their hip. Leaving it off your person will break that habit of checking it every time you are bored.

What strategies have you found effective in managing your smartphone use? I’d love to hear your experiences. Leave a comment below or send me an email.

home screen image
Aforementioned dull & useful homescreen.

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