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Make Your Phone Work For You, Don’t Work For Your Phone

Hey guys! Welcome back to the What We’re Learning Wednesday post on the OP blog. We took some time off for the holiday’s and New Year but we are excited to be back! This year I will be posting on Wednesday’s talking with you about things I’m learning. Sometimes I’ll write about a book I’m reading, sometimes about an experience I’m going through, and some random things in between.

Today I want to talk about an article I read at the end of last year and really loved. It is all about how to optimize your phone to be a tool that helps you in life. It is so easy to fall victim to the notification demon that lives in our devices or to open up Instagram and find ourselves an hour later looking at year-old photos our third-grade crush posted (don’t act like you haven’t done this). How do we quiet the noise and loosen the grip our phones have on us?

This article is LONG. It is packed with suggestions on how to make sure your phone is working for you, not against you. It talks specifically in terms of the iPhone but I’m sure every phone has equivalent features — if not, go get an iPhone. One thing I like about the article is at the beginning the author provides a little key on how to read the article depending on what you want to get out of it. What I’m going to do is tell you about the 3 suggestions I have decided to implement and how they are working for me.

  1. Schedule Night Shift: Night Shift is a feature that adjusts the light on your display to filter out red light at night. The idea here is that when we stare at the red light our phone produces it is harder for us to fall asleep and get good sleep. This one is an automatic color reminder to our brains to start shutting it down for the night. This one has helped me keep a habit of falling asleep while reading a paper book or on my kindle.
  2. Do Not Disturb: This has been the most impactful for me. I would encourage you to not only use the Do Not Disturb feature at work but I think it is essential to add scheduled Do Not Disturb time every day. Right now I have mine set from 7:00 PM to 8:00 AM. This is helping me be more present at home with my family but to be honest it is a work in progress. I still pick my phone up way too much in the evening as the phantom notifications haunt my reward-seeking brain.
  3. Turn off (almost) all notifications: This one will vary for a lot of you but you can start by turning something off. Sometimes I sit with people and their phone (and/or watch) is constantly lighting up to tell them something that can wait. Notifications are serious distractions in life. I have almost all notifications on my phone turned off. I leave texts and calls on for hopefully obvious reasons. Something you could try is turning the badges off the apps you get the most frequent notifications from. There is something freeing about not seeing a little red 89 next to your email app every time you open your phone.

There are a few other things I have done with my phone that aren’t exactly in this article but fall line with the topic. The first is that I have completely removed my email client (Airmail) from my phone. That’s right, I do not check any email on my phone. The greatest gain I have seen from this is increased freedom on my days off. Historically on my days off, I would open my email 4-5 times just to see what was coming through and I realized there was never anything coming via email that couldn’t wait until the next work day. Try this one for a week, it will change your life.

The other is that I do not keep my phone on my night stand overnight. I don’t even have it in the same room. I do use it as my alarm but I keep it in my office next door. This does a couple things for me. It pushes me to read more at night instead of a few more scrolls on Instagram. It also forces me to get out of bed in the morning when my alarm goes off and not hit snooze 42 times (unconfirmed national average).

Check out the article and comment below with what you are currently trying or what you would like to implement.

Thanks for reading and have a great week.


One Response

  1. Basher says:

    Thanks Adam. The resounding theme in most of these things is intentionality…being purposeful in how we use the phone. Left to chance, we’ll take that dopamine hit every single time.

    Our schedules will all vary, and what works for one person will not work for the next. However, we can all be intentional about creating space between our “real” lives and our digital ones.

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