Make Your Phone Work FOR You (a.k.a. Set Your Phone Up For Success)
How Do You Make Your Phone Work For Your?
Does your phone work toward your success? If not, stay tuned. Because here begins a series of posts on ways I’ve successfully reclaimed parts of my life from mindless behaviour. The first change implemented? Setting my phone up for success – or as I like to say, being the boss of my phone.
It began January 2019. I felt disconnected from my immediate surroundings, and found I was consumed by my phone for much of the day. Each day ended with a thought of, ‘What did I even accomplish today?’
An immediate realisation flashed before my eyes – I don’t have to be a victim of my phone. After all, it is another tool at my disposal. Even though it’s just a computer, it demanded so much of me. I’d immediately feel queasy seeing red notifications with numbers in them. They would nag me as to how many things/people/events needed a response.
Barriers to Making Your Phone Work for You
So, if your phone is not set up for success, what is it doing? It is set up to keep you using it. Social media websites and apps all run on algorithms designed to deliver you more of the same content you are consuming.
Have you noticed that the more you look at something the more it appears? Looked at vegan recipe creators yesterday? Great! How about some more today? Are you watching a makeup tutorial? Why not continue watching this playlist of festival makeup looks? Did you read a funny article a friend mentioned? Please, keep following links to random other funny articles or silly quizzes.
This is How to Make Your Phone Work For You in a Few Simple Steps
Here I’ll share the key takeaways from the article/and some personal shifts it made possible:
Using your phone for better sleep
– schedule night shift: while the benefits of using night shift are up for debate, I enjoy the warmer light tone later in the day. Generally, blue light can be really abrasive. Quick fix: if you can, replace harsh blue light with warm yellow tones or red light.
– turn on Aeroplane mode an hour before bed: this includes being off of my phone an hour before bed. Quality of sleep can be a struggle, particularly if your partner works different hours to you. This means minimising distractions every chance possible. Aeroplane mode stops me from responding to any notifications that come up, but it also keeps my sleep uninterrupted the entire night. Waking to dings early in the morning are not a pleasant experience. Quick fix: if you’re a newbie to it, use Aeroplane mode a few nights a week to see how it affects your sleeping patterns.
– use non-abrasive alarm tones: coming out of sleep, study, work, exercise, etc., should be met with soft, soothing melodies or songs. If you use your phone for an alarm, I suggest trying gentle sounds and seeing how you react. In regards to waking from a deep sleep, the last thing you need is a bleeping siren sounding the alarm at you. Quick fix: start calm, be calm, stay calm.
– turn off notifications: be heavy-handed. Now, I only use the badge icon on text messages, phone calls and my work roster. These are preferable to banners as I have a habit of accidentally making banners disappear from my notification bar. For business purposes, having banners set on Instagram and calendar helps, as I have a tendency to miss outreach and events unless notified. Quick fix: use minimal notifications, and if necessary, only use them where they will increase productivity or aid learning outcomes/goal achievement.
Using your phone for increased productivity
– unsubscribe from mailing lists/delete emails: I try to open an email once and deal with it then. Sometimes that means it sits in my inbox for five days before I give it my full attention. Once read, I file it in a relevant folder, or delete. Any newsletters I subscribe to are also under scrutiny. If I no longer find value in a mailing list, I unsubscribe. Quick fix: Don’t think of ‘inbox zero’ as the target. You’re trying to simplify and process your inbox as effectively as possible, little by little. Leo Babauta has some excellent writings on dealing with your inbox effectively.
– delete unused apps: like the jeans you keep in the back of the wardrobe from ten years ago in the hopes of fitting into again, just let them go. Lighten your load. If you have unused apps sitting on your phone, it requires mental capacity to filter past these. Do yourself a favour – delete it. And if it happens you do need it again, redownload it. Easy. Quick fix: rinse and repeat here. Open an app, if it is no longer of use to you, get rid of it.
– have a system to organise your apps: in the article, the author mentions a great way of filing apps. On the home screen, only have tools. For secondary screens, place remaining apps in folders. Then, organise apps and folders alphabetically. This removes mental fatigue when looking for a folder because you know where to expect it. Next, hide social media apps in a folder on the second or third screen, making it harder for you to open them habitually. Quick fix: your phone should serve your highest potential. To do this, keep productivity apps front and centre, secondary apps on your next screen, and social media apps as far away to keep temptation at bay.
Using your phone to enhance awareness and learning practices
– consciously ask yourself if you’re aware of what you are doing: habitually, how many times a day do you just grab your phone? Are you utilising the Screen Time function on your iPhone? It may be helpful in gaining awareness of your habitual phone behaviours. Here are some ways you may be mindlessly using your phone – you may hit the home button to check for a notification. Or you open an app and forget why. Maybe you forget why you even opened your lock screen. This tiny attention span we’ve been reduced to is painfully upsetting. We have such stinted self-control and self-awareness, thanks in large part to the digital world available at our fingertips (and in our back pockets). Quick fix: awareness is the key here. Being conscious of your phone use, constantly question why it’s in your hand. And, always ask what your intention is for using it.
– use podcasts as learning interventions: there is so much free information available to you in the form of podcasts. Try a few, weed out the lesser quality ones, and find something that resonates. I have been recommended some great podcasts by friends and family, including Broken Brain with Dhru Purohit, Live Awake, Creative Caffeine, and Absolute Mind. Quick fix: use your phone as a learning tool. Learn about health concepts. Understand how your mind works by rewiring limiting beliefs. Gift yourself silence to meditate, or listen to someone explain the intricacies of mindfulness.
This is a non-exhaustive list of ways I use my phone for my benefit. There are many more techniques to employ to make your phone work for you. And, many better ways of minimising the distractions they pose. If you have the time, I recommend reading the full article (at least scan over the headings).
But for now, see how you go utilising these tips, and leave behind anything that doesn’t serve you.