“Live with technology, not through technology.”
Want to be in more control of your time? Here’s 3 tips on how to declutter your phone, and stick to using it for only what is essential.
1. Delete every single app
I knew that I couldn’t go without my phone entirely, but I had so many apps that it was hard to tell which really added value to my life. I had over 6 different messaging apps, apps for clothing stores and restaurants, every social media platform, and a handful of games.
So I deleted every single app on my phone, and decided to only re-install an app if I really thought it was essential. Over the following weeks, I only I re-installed a few apps which I use daily — messenger, my budgeting app — but I found that I didn’t remember or miss most of the apps I had deleted. It’s hard to be aware of what you’re able to live without, until you try living without it.
This idea was inspired by the “The Packing Party” by The Minimalists https://www.theminimalists.com/packing/
2. Put it out of reach
Supermarkets put their confectionary on low shelves near their checkouts since they know that children are more likely to want something that is easy to reach. In the same way, if your phone is always in your pocket, you’ll use it a lot. Here are some ways to keep your phone out of reach:
- Don’t take it with you — If you’re going for a walk or to the gym, try leaving your phone at home
- Give it a designated spot in your home — Instead of carrying your phone on you, keep it in a designated place (in the kitchen, for example). This forces you to walk up to that spot if you want to use your phone, and stops you from constantly checking it unnecessarily.
- Download an app manager — Rather than physically putting your phone out of reach, you can keep addictive apps out of reach by using an app manager. Many apps allow you to restrict the time you spend on specific apps or websites during the day — you can try Screen Time on iOS or Digital Wellbeing on Android
3. Make using it unappealing
We reach for our phones around to 150 times a day, and most of the time we do this out of habit. Anthony Ongaro calls this The Twitch. Our brains crave dopamine, and when we see get messages, see notifications and scroll through endless streams of posts, this gives us the dopamine hit we crave.
By making using our phones less appealing, we can slowly wear away at our brains instinctive urge to check our phone. Here are some tips on how to do this:
- Turn off notifications — Only keep notifications on for essential apps like calls and texts. This allows you to be more deliberate in how and when you check your phone.
- Greyscale your screen — It’s much less interesting to use your phone when there’s no colour, so turning it black and white is an easy way to limit how much time you spend on apps like Instagram. Here’s how to set this up for Android and iOS.
- Empty your homescreen — You will be less likely to reach for apps which aren’t on your homescreen. Try leaving only a few important apps on the first page.
Thanks for reading!