How to de-clutter your phone
Discover why your phone is so distracting and learn practical tips to make it more productive
Cellphones are highly addictive and have even been called ‘the new cigarette’. But why are they so addictive and what can we do about it?
In this article you will learn:
- Why cell phones are so addictive (what the tech leaders don’t want you to know…)
- The secrets to de-weaponize them, so they work for you and not against you
- Advanced tips on how you can break free if you want to truly be hardcore.
From Overwhelm To Freedom
I used to spend way too much time on my phone and could barely get anything done. I was always wondering when I’d get a message back and sometimes even woke up in the middle of the night to check something. It was horrible. My life was not my own.
Finally, I decided to take a step back and find out why these tools were so addictive. What I learned shocked me.
First of all, I discovered that these phones are actually designed to be addictive. They are meant to get us hooked and keep coming back for more. The companies who make them want us waking up in the middle of the night anxious to pick up our phones and check their apps.
Once I discovered that there are 1000 engineers behind the screen trying to get me to overuse my phone, I realized I needed to do something about it.
So I picked up my phone and re-organized it so that it wasn’t as distracting (you’ll learn how to do this later in this article), I also stopped sleeping my phone beside me. It was hard at first but once I got used to it, it wasn’t as bad a problem as I thought it would be.
Now I only use my phone for productive stuff, such as flying a drone, taking videos and photos, tuning my guitar, and checking the weather. That’s it! And as a result I feel so much more free, clear-headed and able to enjoy my life. And I know, if you understand how these devices work, and how to avoid their traps, you’ll feel a lot better too.
But why are they so addictive? And do the people who make them realize how addictive they are?
Tech Leaders Don’t Want Their Kids to Use Technology
Throughout my search for the truth, I’m shocked to discover that most of the founders of this addictive technology have banned their own kids from using it!
In late 2010, Jobs told New York Times journalist Nick Bilton that his children had never used the iPad. “We limit how much technology our kids use in the home.” Bilton discovered that other tech giants imposed similar restrictions.
Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired, enforced strict time limits on every device in his home, “because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand.” His five children were never allowed to use screens in their bedrooms.
Evan Williams, the founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium, bought hundreds of books for his two young sons but refused to give them an iPad. And Lesley Gold, the founder of an analytics company, imposed a strict no-screen-time-during-the-week rule on her kids. She softened her stance only when they needed computers for schoolwork.
Walter Isaacson, who ate dinner with the Jobs family while researching his biography of Steve Jobs, told Bilton that, “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.” It seemed as if the people producing tech products were following the cardinal rule of drug dealing: never get high on your own supply.”
Alter, Adam. Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked (p. 2). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
If the people who know the most about how this stuff works are weary of it, then what does that tell us? And the biggest questions is, how are they getting us hooked?
How technology has been weaponized against you
Technology’s main intention is to support us and make our lives better and easier. Searching for something online has been made even simpler with mobile internet. In fact, more than 49% of web page views across the globe in February 2017 was performed through cell phones. However, as companies and advertisers have gotten more and more clever, it’s been fashioned into a means of slavery and servitude, not freedom.
It’s essential to keep in mind that a cell phone is merely a tool and not the problem itself. The main issue here is how app designers, against your wish, have “weaponized” your cellphone to keep you hooked, and compulsively coming back for more over and over again. What could be a tool for good has been hijacked and turned into a tool for addiction and bad habits.
How has the phone been ‘weaponized’?
For example, Facebook is specifically designed to get you hooked by sending notifications through email or SMS about all the things you’re missing out on. All those messages are not random. They want you to feel that you’re missing out on something important and there is something special awaiting you.
They know our weaknesses and exploit them. The more you see those notifications and click them, the more a habit is formed, and you start getting hooked without even noticing it. Companies like Facebook know we will not be able to resist checking those red notification buttons to see what we’re missing out thus they design apps to be addictive.
NOTE: You can get a free e-book on how Facebook gets us trapped here.
According to the rule book for getting people hooked to their devices called Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, the way apps get your hook is a simple 4-step process.
The 4 Steps To Create An Online Addiction
- Variable Reward
Here is what the author says in more detail (excerpts from the book).
- Trigger. A trigger is the actuator of behavior—the spark plug in the engine. Triggers come in two types: external and internal. Habit-forming products start by alerting users with external triggers like an e-mail, a web site link, or the app icon on a phone.
- Action. Following the trigger comes the action: the behavior is done in anticipation of a reward. The simple action of clicking on the interesting picture in her news feed takes Barbara to a Web site called Pinterest, a “social bookmarking site with a virtual pinboard.
- Variable Reward. What distinguishes the Hook Model from a plain vanilla feedback loop is the Hook’s ability to create a craving. Feedback loops are all around us, but predictable ones don’t create desire. The unsurprising response of your fridge light turning on when you open the door doesn’t drive you to keep opening it again and again. However, add some variability to the mix—suppose a different treat magically appears in your fridge every time you open it—and voilà, intrigue is created.
- Investment. The last phase of the Hook Model is where the user does a bit of work. The investment phase increases the odds that the user will make another pass through the Hook cycle in the future. The investment occurs when the user puts something into the product or service such as time, data, effort, social capital, or money.
We as humans are meant to be a sovereign being. However, technology is intended to defeat our own inner will power and turn us into an addict.
The main reason why cell phones have become such a problem is the way they are designed. It creates a conflict between our greater desires to create, share and enjoy, as well as the desires of our egos to consume, take, and waste our time.
How to break free?
Understanding human psychology and how they trap us is the first step to break free.
Psychology Fact: We use things more if they are easy to use and less if they are harder to use.
For example, if sending a message will take two hours or if it crashes all the time, you’d properly not bother using it. If you only have WiFi access and receptions once a month, you’d not bother checking for messages.
So the first thing is to make it HARD to do bad things and easy to do good things. With this in mind, let’s jump into the practical and powerful steps to de-weaponize your phone.
By the time you have implemented the strategies, your phone will no longer be as addictive. You can use it for only the things that matter the most to you and your life. You will be able to claim back your time, feel more energy, and feel more empowered.
Furthermore, after you’ve de-weaponized your phone, you will also unlock your phone’s potential to serve you instead of being a trap that demands your time and attention for the benefit of app companies.
So, are you ready and excited? Let’s get started!
CALL TO UPGRADE
How to de-weaponize your phone, claim back your freedom and 3x your productivity
(OPTIONAL) PRE STEP 0:
Backup and Wipe Your Phone for a clean start (Jump to Step 1 if you’re not ready for this yet)
If you want to be hardcore and get a truly clean slate – I recommend wiping your phone clear of everything so you can begin afresh. You can do a backup of your info and start again with only the apps you want.
Delete all social media apps, email and anything else you feel is addictive.
Free yourself from endless checking by deleting addictive apps. You know what those are. For the majority of users, these are Facebook, Facebook Messenger, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, and email apps among others.
Remember, you can always go online on your computer later on to check your emails and messages. You can get everything done quickly and easily without the need to spend hours or even the whole day glued on your phone.
Remember, you can always check your email and messages from your computer later on. This one shift will allow you to get it all done quickly and easily, instead of spending the whole day glued to your phone.
How to do it? Follow the simple steps below:
- Press and hold an app until they start shaking with fear.
- Click the apps you want to delete. You can do it- I know you can!
- Agree to delete (what does it say when you click on it).
Organize Into Categories.
Put all good stuff in an easy to reach place and all the rest hidden away many screens back.
Tidy up your apps so you have as few as possible and then group them into folders.
The reason why folders are useful is that if they are harder to access, you will find yourself using them less often. Moreover, when you have fewer apps on your home screen, it’ll look clean, less distracting, and overwhelming.
Move your apps around so it feels good. You can design your home screen and apps however you like.
To get a new feel of your “de-weaponized” phone, here are some tips you may enjoy that have worked for us:
- Have nothing on the home screen. Remember, less is always more.
- Move the useful apps you truly need onto the second screen.
- Put all the other apps you barely use into a folder on the third screen. This way, your phone becomes more spacious and conscious. Feel free to move things around however you like so that you feel good about it.
- Change your desktop background. Make it something that reminds you of freedom and good feelings. Here’s how to do it: Go to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper > (Pick the one you want) > Click set > Set Lock Screen / Set Home Screen or Both
PRO TIP: If you want to make sure you can stick to your minimal new phone, set up restrictions and make block access to download new apps (see step 5 for more info).
ADVANCED TIP Step 4:
Decolorize, so it’s more boring
When your phone is boring and unenjoyable, the less you’ll want to use it. How to make it blah? Simply turn your screen to grayscale.
Go to settings > accessibility > display accommodations > color filters > grayscale
ADVANCED TIP Step 5:
Set Up Restrictions “Or Screen Time”
I’ll admit it, there are times when I’ve deleted an app more than once, only to find myself downloading it again shortly afterward like an alcoholic.
The good news is, you can stop this from happening and control your cell phone usage by setting up restrictions on your phone. This means that in a moment of weakness, you won’t be able to re-download those apps or access anything else.
Add restrictions on mail and internet browsers. You can pick a random password, write it on a piece of paper and then put the paper somewhere far away from you as possible (or give to a friend, so you can get internet back later on if needed). The more inconvenient for you to get it, the better.
Go to > Settings > General > Screen Time > Enter Restrictions Passcode >
Then you can set up “downtime”, app limits, as well as content and privacy restrictions.
ESSENTIAL TIP: Give your restrictions passwords to a friend (or write it down and hide it somewhere under a rock otherwise you’ll end up just deactivating it so it won’t work).
ADVANCED TIP Step 6:
De-Activate Your Phone
If you’re really hardcore and want freedom more than convenience, well this one’s for you. The best way to absolutely break free is by deactivating your phone. Change your number and get a basic “old-school” phone (not a smartphone).
To do this, simply call your service provider (or go to their website) and find out how you can cancel your service and get a new phone. It can be done in about 20 minutes, and may just be the best decision you’ll make all year!
ADVANCED TIP Step 7:
Stop Texting (unless essential)
Text messages can be a trap. Once you engage in conversations through text, you feel compelled to find out if they’ve gotten back to you yet. This is bad enough with one person, so imagine when we have multiple text streams running at once, it can drain an enormous amount of energy and time from us and stop us from being fully present.
Not only are we wondering if someone has received and read our text or when they’ll get back at us, but the other people that we’re texting are also wondering the same thing. And to make matters worse, there is no way to set up an autoresponder on text, like you can on email.
Cell phones should let us set up autoresponders so whenever someone texts, they could receive a message that says something like “Thanks for your message. I’m away from my phone and will get back to you soon” or “I’m on vacation until ____ date. I’ll get back to you then.” But they don’t allow this feature on purpose so that we feel obliged to be joined at the hip with our devices.
The only way out of this is to simply not text at all, or very rarely text. Unless essential, I have a rule of not texting anyone. I always tell my friends and family not to text, but to call my landline or send an email instead. If they text me, I’ll respond via email or call. This makes it easier to put the phone aside and not feel compelled to “just quickly check if ___ got back to me.”
How to do it
- Write a group text (or individual text if you prefer) to all the main people who text you.
- Tell them that you are taking a break from your phone and will not be responding to texts. They can reach you via email, phone call or whatever.
- Delete all text messages history.
- Have the discipline to not text. It’s a bit hard at first, but then it gets easier.
Try it. You may find yourself feeling a whole lot happier and more relaxed. And, you’ll actually talk to people you love more often, face to face, instead of having a conversation with your phone screen, which is great for everyone.
ADVANCED TIP Step 8:
Find Our Why Your Really Addicted And What You Really Want
If you’re like most people, you’re not actually addicted to your phone. You’re merely using it to try and make up for something missing in your life. Part of the reason why we get addicted to our phones is by design. Simply put, developers purposely engineer the apps to create a habit of checking (that’s why they want to send you notifications). Once the habit is developed, we are compelled by the force of habit to keep coming back (so they get paid, and we lose months of our lives).
The other, deeper reason for the addiction is our innate need for bonding. We check out phones because we want to feel connected to someone or something. Our modern culture, with all it’s “connectivity,” has ironically made us feel isolated, lonely, and desperate for connection.
When we connect with our phone, we are often trying to distract ourselves from that feeling or disconnection, boredom, stress, anxiety or worry. Most of the time, there is actually nothing for us there (what could have changed in the last 90 seconds, right?). But nonetheless, we keep coming back for more because we’re hoping to find something there and get a dose of dopamine to feel a little bit better.
Sadly, all the checking in the world can’t fill the void inside our hearts. We need to take a deeper look inside ourselves and find out what we really want. We all have a need to connect, bond, and feel loved. However, the more contented we feel, the less interested we are in grasping for things beyond our phone screens.
What will happen if you make these changes?
Once you do this, you will experience freedom and peace.
You’ll only use your time doing good things. You’ll be free, and you can enjoy your life to the fullest.
And to finish up, here is your blessing for the day:
“May you be a fully satisfied soul who had attained everything, needs nothing and is fully successful.”
Thank you for being here.