6 Ways to Have a More Mindful Relationship With Your Smartphone

Living in this glorious era of mobile technology, it would be ideal if our technology were set up to help us use our time more efficiently; a tool we control, rather than the other way around (ie. becoming a digital zombie). Here are 6 ways to have a more mindful relationship with your smartphone:

1. Create a Minimalist Home Screen

Rather than opening your phone and being bombarded by notifications, create a clutter-free space that makes space for the thoughts and concerns you want to have. Here’s how.

First, sort your apps into 3 categories:

• Tools (ie. maps, calendar, Uber)
• Aspirations – things you’d like to spend more time on (Ibooks, Podcasts, Duolingo, Fitness Apps), and
• Bottomless Pits – any app that might unintentionally distract you, and doesn’t have a specific purposes or beginning and end (email, social media, etc).

Next, keep your tools and aspirations on your home screen, and keep everything else off the first page. Then, we don’t cause visual overload when we unlock our phones.

Here’s what mine looks like:

2. Make The Control Center Work for You

We’ve all gotten sucked into that downward spiral where we grab our phone to do one quick thing, then all of a sudden 45 minutes of aimless browsing and swiping have gone by. To prevent cameras or alarm clocks from becoming a gateway to wasted time, open these apps without unlocking your phone by swiping up the control center. It’s faster to open apps this way, and you won’t encounter that tempting home screen.

3. Set Notifications to People Only

Think about it. It makes sense to stop what you’re doing when someone needs to reach us. Wouldn’t it be nice if you responded to everything else on your own terms?  For example, you can set an alarm to schedule times for checking email or social media, and limit these times to 3x a day (or whatever number you deem reasonable). I can imagine this one takes some practice.

*These first 3 suggestions are courtesy of Tristan Harris, Google Design Ethicist, and Stephen Cognetta’s posting on HackerNoon.

4. Use a Wallpaper That Makes You Think Twice

Like these or these.
I chose a wallpaper that makes me question the way I’m spending time.

Now that we’ve covered some quick fixes, here are a couple ideas that require some time and practice.

5. Download and app geared toward mindful, limited phone use.
Yes – there’s an app for that! Check out the Gadget Hack’s recommendations. I’m personally interested in giving the “Forest” app a whirl.

6. Use your phone to practice mindfulness meditation.
If you find yourself wanting to work on mindfulness as a practice (which has mental and physical benefits) check out “The Best Meditation Apps of 2017“. Headspace is a personal favorite; great for meditation newbies.

All in all, even a small change is a step towards more using technology more effectively, and meaningfully. Let us know if you’ve tried any of these strategies! Feel free to share any other ideas in the comments.