Top tips: how to use your phone, so it doesn’t use you.

‘But what will I use as my alarm?’

I’ve come to realise that talking to someone about their phone usage is often like giving a swimming lesson at the bottom of the lake – anyone who needs the instruction has likely left it a little too late (I include myself in this analogy).

But kick to the surface we will.

I wanted to share this because we’re all aware (if not entirely concerned) about how addicted we are to our devices. We know at some level that we shouldn’t habitually look at social media 200 times a day, much like we know it probably isn’t particularly healthy to tap into our email at 3am or even when we first wake up. But as Michael Baldwin said in his book The Way to Write Short Stories,  ‘nothing ever lasts in the head’. So I thought I would highlight the tips from this Tim Ferriss’ video, which gives simple, marked advice on how to use your phone, and not let your phone use you.


In a nutshell, Ferriss points are these:

Delete your email app from your phone (once you’ve stopped spluttering, it’s worth remembering you can always access your email through your phone browser) – yes it takes a little more time, but that’s the point – you’ll be deliberate in your actions, rather than a slave to the ‘checking for mail’ loading spinner.

Delete social media apps from your phone (as above, you know it makes sense). If you simply cannot imagine 10 minutes without Instagram then try turning your phone to greyscale – we’ve heard it does wonders for the dopamine hit you get from the brightly coloured icons. Work in social media? There are still apps that allow you to post content without seeing your feed or accessing other people’s content. What I’m trying to say is, you’re not off the hook.

Silent mode and aeroplane mode. If you actively stop your phone from distracting you, then the distractions stop. I know, mind boggling! Giving yourself a break from after your evening meal until the next morning – or whenever you’re ready for an onslaught of inbound messages, means everyone else’s agenda does not become your to do list (I almost put that last part in CAPS but it made me sound like a preachy phone-hating soul rather than someone who was actually as surprised as everyone else).

The point Ferriss makes which I enjoyed perhaps more than all others is this…

We dramatically overestimate our importance and we drastically overestimate the importance and urgency of anything happening on social media.

Simple (obvious?) tips, but I liked them, nonetheless.

Habits, if we’re trying to break them, require us to consciously add friction points. We need to make it harder for ourselves to submit to the compulsive behaviours we’re so entrenched in. We’ve all heard about how effective simply moving your chocolate stash to a hard-to-reach place is, and whilst there are billions of £££ being pumped into our devices to make them as attractive and addictive as possible (less so into our Dairy Milk habit) – I’m up for the challenge, a digital diet if you will.

Why bother changing your phone habit?

Well besides the hours of wasted time (try Qualitytime or Moment to control your usage), there’s also a psychological grind that comes from spending too much time on your phone. Being ‘always on’ – isn’t a badge to be worn with honour, in fact it’s likely stopping you from committing to any truly great work. You don’t need to acknowledge every Instagram like, or that your favourite podcast has released a new episode. If you do one thing, stop the push notifications.



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If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues.