Picture this. You’re taking the subway home and you notice a woman that you’ve never seen before. You’re an introverted guy, so this isn’t easy for you, but – as the woman’s eyes pivot away from her book and for a fraction of a second focus on you – there’s something about that look that your mind holds on to.
It scares the hell out of you, but somehow you work up the courage to approach the woman and strike up a conversation. And it goes well. And again it scares the hell out of you, but again you somehow work up the courage to ask her if she would like to grab a coffee. And she would.
And the next morning you wake up, not knowing what the future will hold. But one thing you do know, is that you feel exhilarated. You did something scary and worthwhile, and you’re proud of yourself for taking the leap. You don’t know whether you should call or text, or whether you should give her a few days’ space. But none of that worries you too much. Because you’ve already done the hardest part. You lived life.
But none of that happened, did it? Because you didn’t notice the woman. Because even if you had noticed the woman, you wouldn’t have had five seconds free of distraction to work up the courage to scare the hell out of yourself.
Hi, my name is Pat Griffith, and I’m a cell phone addict. I’ve been sober for five months. In this article I share the fix that I implemented in my own life with great success.
But first: 27 symptoms of phone addiction. ie 27 ways your life is worse because of your incessant attachment to technology at all times.
- Skip to Are you addicted? Take the quiz.
- Skip to The solution: make your phone boring.
- Skip to How to dumb down your Android device.
- Skip to How to dumb down your iOS device.
- Skip to I’m begging you.
1. You lack appreciation and curiosity for the complexity that surrounds you.
Your brain is so tied to social media and email that it’s tough to see anything more than the bike zooming by you. No, you’re not always on your phone. But the option to be on your phone is always there. The temptation is always there. And the quick fix is always in the back of your mind. So the second you get bored – the same second when your mind might start to wander and start to think outside the box – is the second that you start thinking about pulling out your phone.
When you free yourself of distractions you get to marvel at the complexity and beauty of everything you walk past, both engineering feats and natural wonders. Yeah, that bike almost hit you, but isn’t it fascinating how it works? How does it not constantly fall over?
How many times have you seen a kid at Niagara Falls or Yosemite National park who is looking down at his iPhone instead of marveling at the complexities in front of him? How many times have you been that kid?
In 30 years are you going to remember what was on your Facebook feed the day that you saw the Grand Canyon for the first time? Or are you going to remember how small you felt? How you spent hours being blown away at what seemed impossible. The Colorado River couldn’t really have done all of that. Could it have? How?
“If you want to turn a mountain upside down, all you need is time.”
– Joe Hanson
2. You miss the creativity of a good poop.
As a man, I view the bathroom – and especially the toilet – as a safe little sanctuary. Women may very well feel the same way. I don’t know. I’m not a woman.
It’s the one place I can go in my life that is free of distractions and free of responsibilities and even free of loved ones. I love you, Sarah and Moonshine, but sometimes I need a few minutes away from even the ones I love.
Do you remember coming up with some of your greatest ideas on the toilet or in the shower? Of course you do, and Leo Widrich (CEO of Buffer which is a tool I use daily) writes about the two-fold reason for it.
- “Typical triggers for events, that make us feel great and relaxed and, therefore, give us an increased dopamine flow are taking a warm shower, exercising, driving home, etc. The chances of having great ideas then are a lot higher.”
- “The subconscious mind has been working extremely hard to solve the problems you face and now that you let your mind wander, it can surface and plant those ideas into your conscious mind.”
But we’re ripping that away from ourselves. 75% of us take our phones into the bathroom. And according to this infographic by Keeping it Kleen 16% of us have fecal matter on our phones. So there’s that.
Bonus: The bathroom is a great place to be creative. If you’re looking to cram some more creativity into your daily life, try driving to and from work without the radio on. It’s the perfect way to maximize the value of your commute time.
3. You don’t sleep well.
The impacts of technology on sleep are real.
You brush your teeth, turn out the lights and kiss your wife goodnight. “Ahhhh”, your bed is so comfortable. And then 2.5 minutes later (which you could swear was 45 minutes) you think “Hmm, I wonder if anybody responded to my reddit post yet. I should probably check real quick.”
It’s a serious problem for me and purely based on statistics I’m betting it’s a problem for you, too.
54% of people check their phones in bed and over half of all teenagers have problems falling asleep after texting or using social media at bedtime.
Also, don’t forget about the not-so-wonderful effects of blue light on sleep.
Recent studies have shown that short-wavelength [blue] light has a greater effect on phase shifting the circadian clock and on melatonin suppression.
…Participants who read on light-emitting devices took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep [the phase when we dream] and had higher alertness before bedtime…
We also found that after an eight-hour sleep episode, those who read on the light-emitting device were sleepier and took longer to wake up.
Even if you’re not checking your phone in bed, you’re probably sleeping next to it. 65% of Americans sleep with or next to their phones. Your forgotten “blanky” – not to mention Build-a-Bear’s stock – would really appreciate it if you’d stop doing that.
4. You’re more likely to kill yourself or someone else while driving.
24% of people check their phones while driving. And those who do check their phones are four times as likely to get in an accident. I’m not a math major, but… not good.
Of course dumbing down your phone only precludes you from killing someone while using an app that you’ve disabled. You’re still free to kill someone while talking or texting on your phone. Or, you could think for two seconds about how truly dangerous texting and driving is, then take a few minutes to absorb that information, and then decide not to be an asshole.
5. You feel the pressure to always find the answer to everything.
You want to prove to me that you do in fact know who started game 3 of the 1962 World Series? Knock yourself out. I don’t care, and I’m not going to fact-check you.
Do that enough and pretty soon you get to be known as the fact-checker guy. Your grandfather says “I wonder what time the Eagles play on Sunday” and then gives you a not-so-subtle glance that says “hey grandson, you better get on that phone and find that out for me.” Because you’re that guy, and everybody knows it, and they’ll use that to their advantage.
It’s okay to not know. Take a few minutes to ponder the answer once in a while. Work for it. How many times have you Googled something that you could have figured out yourself with a little effort?
6. You waste brain power.
The mere presence of a cell phone reduces your cognitive ability and your attention span regardless of whether or not it’s being used.
Part of that has to do with the phones of the people around us. We can’t help but be forced to overhear those surrounding conversations. So let’s just blame everyone else, right?
Not so fast. One study measured the cognitive impairment caused by one’s own phone by administering a test to students – some with and some without cell phones on their desks. Liz Borreli in an article about that study points out that “Students who could not see their phones did better on both tasks, especially on the more challenging one. These students got an average of 26 correct compared to the other group’s average of 21.”
Making your cell phone boring won’t completely eliminate this cognitive deduction because you can still get anxiety about potential calls or texts, but the amount of mediums which can cause you anxiety – of which you can get a bad case of FOMO – is significantly reduced.
7. You miss those ridiculous movie theater intros begging you to silence your phones.
I’ve always wondered how many people never see those commercials because they’re on their phones. Ironic. Did I use that word right, Alanis?
8. Your intimacy suffers.
Your bed is serving the second of its two primary functions. You and your wife are both having a great time. Everything is going swimmingly, and then…
She picks up her phone. And you may or may not resume, but either way you’re not happy about it. Mood killer.
Unfortunately, this is a real issue. 62% of women have pressed pause to get on their phones, according to a British study. As have 48% of men.
And speaking of sex, you should probably Get your TV out of your bedroom.
9. You’re “that guy” at the dinner table.
A white guy, a black guy and an asian guy walk into a restaurant. And then nothing funny happens because they’re on their iPhones the whole time.
Using your phone at the dinner table pisses everyone off. 88% of people disapprove of it yet 30% of us do it anyway. And it’s such an issue in modern culture that even the pope felt the need to chime in.
“A family that almost never eats together or that, rather than talking at table, watches television or looks at the smartphone,” says Pope Francis, “is not much of a family.”
And for any mommy readers there’s one extra study aimed just at you. Moms who use their phones at the dinner table connect less with their children. Language cognition, social development and encouragement all suffer.
10. Your food and drinks don’t taste quite as good as they should.
Salty, sweet and sour foods all taste weaker when we’re distracted. And the more we’re distracted, the weaker they taste. So next time before you tell your mom that she’s a bad cook (actually, just don’t ever do that) take a look in the front-facing camera.
And on a related note, if you overcome your smartphone addiction your food will be hotter. Or colder. Whichever is more appropriate. Because eating your food as soon as it is ready is allowed. You are not required to post it on Instagram first.
It’s a Sunday night. You’re sitting down at the dinner table of your local restaurant, about to be served. The waiter circles around your table, placing each dish down one by one. You reach out to grab your favorite dish, before your sister yells at you to stop.
She then proceeds to hold out her phone and take a picture of each dish. Rather than eating your food while it’s still hot, you’re forced to sit back and wait until she gets the perfect angle of each entree, smiling as if she is on the cusp of greatness, doing some sort of worldly service. This is a daily epidemic happening all over the country, and it needs to stop. Let the children eat!
11. Your phone is slow and has terrible battery life.
As of Q4 2014 Facebook was the most resource-heavy application on Android devices. And Instagram was third.
So in addition to wasting time on your phone, you also get to waste time charging your phone. And you get to waste energy worrying about whether or not your phone will last until you get to a charger. Lucky you.
So after you dumb down your smartphone you’ll have a phone that is faster and has far better battery life. Or you could be like me (which is generally a terrible idea, but could work out okay in this specific instance) and you could use this as an excuse to replace your schnazzy iPhone 6 with a low-end piece-of-junk Android phone.
I consistently get 4+ days of battery life out of my Moto E. The following screenshot doesn’t even do it justice because I’d been taking a bunch of screenshots on my phone all morning for this article.
12. You forget to pay attention to your date.
So not only are you missing out on a great night, but your date is left inferring that you find him to be a boring human being. If you don’t like the guy, just tell him. If you do like him, leave your phone in your pocketbook.
13. Your face-to-face conversations suffer.
Lock your mobile phone in a drawer and start a meaningful conversation with your best friend. You’ll probably find that the conversation is going quite well.
… interacting in a neutral environment, without a cell phone nearby, seems to help foster closeness, connectedness, interpersonal trust, and perceptions of empathy – the building-blocks of relationships.
A few minutes into your conversation, go over to the drawer and take your phone back out. Continue the conversation. Notice the difference? The difference is that your friend now trusts you less.
… new research suggests that cell phones may serve as a reminder of the wider network to which we could connect, inhibiting our ability to connect with the people right next to us. Cell phone usage may even reduce our social consciousness.
Cell phones hinder face-to-face conversations, even when we’re not using them. People who have in-person conversations in close proximity to a phone have lower quality relationships and have less trust in their conversation counterpart than do people who leave their phones in the other room. And they get the vibe, maybe rightfully so, that their conversation partner doesn’t care as much about what they’re saying.
14. You get that awful glare from your priest or pastor.
I haven’t gone to church since I reached the age of reason but I was raised Catholic so I know how much priests hate a good ringtone. And though of course your new dumb phone will still have talk and text, your decreased phone-related anxiety will mean it’s not going to ruin your day to leave your sidepiece in the car.
Oops. I think I just insulted religion. Why do I do this to myself? Now 95% of the people who might have otherwise shared this article with a friend will instead curse my name and not even continue on to point #15.
Or is this all just a ruse? Am I testing your intentional living skills by seeing if you can find the goodness in an article even though you disagree with 1/27th of its content?
15. You pay an asinine cell phone bill.
The average cell phone bill in America is $70 for an individual plan and $155 for a family plan. Don’t people care about saving for retirement? Sheesh.
Maybe that number makes sense when you think about all of those families that just have to have their unlimited 4G. But when you dumb down your smartphone, and, therefore, chop up the amount of data you need, glorious pastures await.
I pay about $13.50 per month through Republic Wireless (that’s not an affiliate link by the way – nor are any of the links in this article) for my phone plan. That’s $10 for unlimited talk and text plus about 0.15GB per month of data. Plus taxes. And I still listen to a ton of audiobooks and podcasts on my phone; I just make sure to download them onto my device before I leave the office.
I bet you instantly assume that Republic Wireless provides terrible service because they’re not one of the “big four”, right? Yeah, well the “big four” spend a lot of money trying to make sure you keep thinking that. I’ve had the service for several months with not a single issue.
And maybe Republic Wireless does suck in your area. How am I supposed to know? But where are we supposed to go in life when we trust conventional wisdom every step of the way?
If any Republic Wireless marketing guys happen to stumble across this, I hereby grant to you a Creative Commons Attribution (BY) license on this slogan that I painstakingly crafted for you:
“Republic Wireless: A Phone Plan for Smart People.”
16. Your social lungs are gasping for fresh air.
Cell phones are just as addictive as cigarettes according to a study by Queensland University in Australia.
Our dependency on mobiles means most people are never without them. The fact that handsets are carried around all day and provide instant pleasure means the risk of addiction is on a par with snacking on junk food and even smoking.
17. You have to lie when your daughter asks you if you saw her game-winning shot.
You’re driving your daughter home from her game. She’s glowing with excitement and you feel like a buffoon. You’re happy for her, but you feel so guilty. You’re just praying that she doesn’t ask you about it. But sure enough, “Daddy, did you see my shot? I did it!”
And what are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to lie to her? Or are you supposed to tell her the truth: that you missed her shot because you were reading an email from your colleague?
No wonder almost 70% of children think that their parents spend too much time on their phones. That linked article is by Glued, a company that is beta testing a solution for phone addiction that is more elegant than the one I will present below.
I don’t have kids, so maybe it’s out of line for me to say this. But I’m going to say it anyway: If you spend more time on your phone than you do with your kid; if you miss great moments or even tiny moments in your child’s life because you are doing something utterly unimportant on your phone; then you are being a bad parent.
I am a parent to the most adorable dog in the world, Moonshine. And the amount of guilt I feel when I waste an hour on my computer or my phone instead of taking Moonshine for a walk or playing catch with him makes me cringe at the thought of how bad I’d feel if I had kids. If you’re going to take five minutes to stop and reflect on any of these 27 points, please let it be this one.
18. You worry about somebody going through your phone.
Your girlfriend picks up your phone and freaks out because your first instinct is “oh crap, did I remember to clear my browsing history?”
Take all the fun stuff off your phone and you kill two birds.
- There will never be incriminating evidence.
- Nobody will want to borrow your phone.
19. You need to see a chiropractor.
Our extreme phone usage, and the accompanying bad posture during that usage, apparently has a name. It’s called “text neck”. And Lindsey Bever writes that it’s a risk for some 58 percent of American adults who own smartphones.
20. You have an impulsive twitch.
Do you ever find yourself pulling out your phone and then forgetting why? Or pulling out your phone even though you just put it away? Or do you notice in a moment of boredom how you always open up a new tab on your computer and go to the same one or two websites, regardless of whether you actually have any desire to visit those sites?
If you’re an average person (which I know you aren’t, because you’re reading this blog, which means you’re an awesome person) then you most certainly do.
In fact, the average person checks his phone every six and a half minutes – 200 times a day. And that’s not because we’re all ultra popular and we’re all getting messages every 6.5 minutes. It’s because our brains have aligned “bored” with “check Facebook”.
21. You have less time to do rewarding things.
According to Flurry the average American spends 162 minutes per day on his phone. Break your iPhone addiction and you’ll free up 162 minutes that could be better spent doing almost anything else. Heck, maybe even something rewarding and intentional.
For a good idea of what many minimalists like to do with all of their extra time, check out A Minimalist View On The Value Of Time by Dan Erickson.
22. You miss the spectacular view when your spouse is driving through Sedona (or anywhere else).
Your spouse keeps trying to engage you. “Hey honey, this is beautiful. You have to look out the window. This is so pretty.” But nope. Instead, you’re creeping on your friends’ lives and looking at all the “cool stuff” they’re doing.
Instagram will be okay without you for a few hours. Lift up your goddamn head and see what’s in front of you.
23. You forget to respond to emails.
You get an email alert on your phone, so you check it. But it’s going to require a fairly lengthy response – a response you don’t feel like knocking out on tiny keys – so you wait until you get back to the office to respond. You get back to the office and you look at your unread emails, of which this particular email is not included, and said email goes into la la land never to been seen (or answered) again.
I did respond. In my head. I crafted a witty and clever response that also managed to address all of your questions/comments and add a bit more about what’s going on with me. I went over it a few times to make sure it was awesome. I promised myself I would write it down and send it as soon as I wasn’t driving/dealing with a toddler/out for dinner/whatever. And then my brain told itself I’d already responded and it checked that item off my to-do list. If you asked me, I’d tell you that I did, in fact, respond. Seriously, I have science on my side here: this is really a thing.
In an evil plot twist, the email-on-our-bodies-24-7 strategy is causing people to be worse at email.
24. You suffer from nomophobia.
Sadly, that’s a real thing. It even has a Wikipedia page.
Nomophobia is the fear of being without one’s phone, and according to SecurEnvoy 66% of American adults suffer from it.
And the worst part about it? The worst part is what appears to be the most common solution to nomophobia. Do you think the solution is taking a second look at our cell phone addiction as a culture and trying to curtail our habits? Nope. The solution is to be even more attached to our damn phones.
Shameless company Endnomophobia treats it as a joke. In pointing out how addicted people are to their phones, they treat the addiction like it’s a freaking badge of honor. And the reason they’re able to do this is because people are proud of how much they are addicted to their phones.
And the company’s infographic is even sadder and more mocking. Said infographic illustrates that “20% would rather go shoeless for a week than temporarily release their phones.” Solution? Buy their signal booster, of course.
25. You’ll never hear the end of a story that was boring for almost three seconds in the middle.
You’re with two friends. Friend #1 is telling a story. Friend #2 apparently thinks the story is taking a little too long to develop, so he whips out his phone. And then you’re torn on whether to punch Friend #2 in the testicular region or to focus more intently on the story to try and compensate.
I was hoping that such situations were isolated to my group of friends, but no. 32% of people (49% of millennials) admit to checking their phones in the middle of a conversation (probably the same 32% of people who complain on Facebook about not having any friends).
And this has become so ingrained in some of us that we don’t stop to think about just how unacceptable it is. Or at least how unacceptable it should be. You might as well have just told your friend that he was boring you to death.
Most people are conscientious enough to not do this in a 1-on-1 setting in the midst of a genuine story. But how often do we pull out our phones when we’re next to our loved ones and there’s a 15-second gap in conversation? Is it really that awful to sit in silence for a minute and simply enjoy each other’s company? Of course you and your wife never talk if you never allow a discussion to develop.
26. You didn’t catch what your boss just said.
Your boss calls your team into the conference room at 3pm on a Friday, just as you were about to walk out the door. You’re bummed about being late for your tee time, and you’re already mentally checked-out for the day, so instead of listening to your boss you pull out your phone and play Cut the Rope under the table.
Monday morning rolls around and all of your coworkers are smiling and telling stories of Saturday night’s crazy festivities. “What the hell,” you think. “Why wasn’t I invited?”
You were invited – during that three-minute meeting that you mentally opted out of. But at least your misery has company; a quarter of your coworkers missed the invite, too.
24% of us (33% of millennials) browse our phones during meetings.
And sure, that’s a silly example, but imagine the effect on your career if you are the kind of employee who regularly checks out during meetings. How many insights will you miss? How many executives will you anger? How many coworkers will you annoy? Good luck climbing the corporate ladder (not that you’d want to anyway, but that’s not the point).
27. And The Kicker: YOU RISK LIVING A BORING LIFE.
With the smartphone in your pocket, the TV in front of your couch, the radio in your car, the social media sites on your computer and the latest new gadget on Amazon, there’s always a distraction to keep you “happy”. There’s always just enough dopamine within reach that you never have to take a risk.
But you are taking a risk. Maybe the biggest risk a person can take. When you’re addicted to distraction you risk never doing anything with your life. Never quitting your job to pursue your own passion, never taking a month off to go backpacking, never confronting your fears, never challenging conventional wisdom and never thinking outside the box. You risk waking up one day and sadly reflecting upon an empty life.
Are you addicted? Take the quiz.
I am not a psychologist. This cell phone addiction quiz is presented purely for entertainment value. It is meant to open your eyes, not to replace the advice of a trained professional.
Tick the box next to every statement that is true for you. Your results will be presented at the bottom of the quiz.
- I spend more time than I should on my phone.
- I spend more time on my phone than I used to.
- I feel that I could be more productive if I spent less time on my phone.
- I sometimes regret how much time I spend on my phone.
- I purposely use my phone to shield myself from uncomfortable social situations.
- I have had a friend or loved one ask me to put my phone away.
- I find myself using my phone in bed, even when it’s past my desired bedtime.
- I find myself instinctively reaching for my phone even when I don’t need it.
- I get anxious when I don’t have my phone with me or when I’m unable to check my phone.
- I sometimes use my phone even when it increases my risk of physical harm. eg when driving.
Results: Inconclusive. Talk to a trained professional. Tricked ya! As I said, I’m not a psychologist, and it’d be irresponsible of me to tell you whether or not you have an addiction. I simply ask that you reflect on the items that you checked off.
If you want to nerd out, check out The invisible addiction: Cell-phone activities and addiction among male and female college students by James A. Roberts, Luc Honore Petnji Yaya and Chris Manolis.
As the functionality of cell-phones continues to expand, addiction to this seemingly indispensable piece of technology becomes an increasingly realistic possibility. Study results suggest that certain activities performed on one’s cell-phone are more likely to lead to dependence than others and that these addictive activities vary across gender. Additionally, time spent on a particular activity does not necessarily signal the activity’s addictive potential.
The Solution: Make Your Phone Boring
Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe your discipline is greater than that of a small child. Maybe you can have Facebook on your phone and only check it once a week. Go ahead, cool guy, take a second and pat yourself on the back. For some of us, actively protecting ourselves from ourselves is the only way.
One solution would be to buy a dumbphone. The dumbphone solution, though, requires big sacrifices: no maps, no podcasts, no weather, etc. If you want to keep those apps, then you can’t go with a dumbphone.
A better solution, then, is to hack your smartphone into a boring, restricted, distraction-free device; to keep your smartphone but make it boring by irreversibly (without a password) removing the distracting apps.
The boring smartphone is the best of both worlds; the benefits of modern technology without the side effects. We still have a GPS device for trips and a music device for parties. Just nothing distracting. No email. No browser. No social media. And most importantly, we can make sure that there’s no way to undo these changes when we’re on the toilet and bored.
The best part? It’s a crazy simple solution. You just have to have the guts to do it.
How to dumb down your Android device.
- Uninstall all of the time-sucking apps that you’ve installed.
- You won’t be able to uninstall the preinstalled ones, so you’ll have to disable them instead. To do this go to Settings -> Apps -> All. Now tap whatever distracting app you want to disable, like Chrome or Gmail. Then on the next screen press Disable. It’ll ask you if you want to disable the built-in app. Press “OK”.
- You may also be asked if want to replace the app with the factory version. Press “OK” again in this scenario. If you go back to the “All” screen and the app is still in the list, then simply tap on it again and disable it again.
- Repeat for each app as necessary*. Depending on your Launcher, you may have to restart your phone for the apps to disappear from your home and app screens.
- Go to the Play Store and install AppLock.
- Open AppLock and set your AppLock password to something you can’t memorize. You’ll be prompted for your password several times in the next few minutes, on most of the steps, but after that, make sure to tuck it away safely. Store your password somewhere you can access it if you need to, but not some place too convenient. Or if you really don’t trust yourself, give it to a friend and then delete it. You’ll need it if you ever want to install a new app, change your settings, etc.
- Optionally set up a security email.
- Press the lock icon next to “Google Play Store”. It’ll tell you that you must allow usage access for AppLock to do that, so press “Permit”.
- On the “Apps with usage access” settings page, enable AppLock and then press “OK”.
- Go back into the AppLock app and press the lock icons next to “Google Play Store” and “Uninstall/Install” to ensure that they are both in the locked position.
- Go to the “Protect” tab and Enable “Advanced Protection”. This will take you to the Play Store to install a secondary app that prevents you from uninstalling AppLock without the password.
- Optionally go back into the AppLock app and you’ll be prompted to complete the three steps to complete the “Advanced Protection” setup. Complete that process. If you have any hiccups here with AppLock’s automatic redirection, you can do this manually by going to Settings -> Security -> Device Administrators and ensuring that both “AppLock” and “Advanced Protection” are enabled. When you go back to AppLock -> Protect and see that the Advanced Protection toggle is set to the active position then you’ll know that you were successful.
- Optionally open the AppLock app again. Go to the Protect tab. Scroll down and press “Magic” and then press “Hide AppLock”.
- Optionally download a more attractive launcher, because looking at ugliness can’t be good for you. I’m currently using Z Launcher.
- Embrace the minimalism.
*There are a ton of apps that you can safely disable, but be careful. If you disable the wrong app you might get some unexpected performance as a result. Feel free to do your own research if you want to be more aggressive than I was. Here’s the complete list of the 36 apps that I’ve had safely disabled for months: Chrome, Cloud Print, Docs, Downloads, Drive, Email, FM Radio, Gmail, Google Hindi Input, Google Korean Input, Google Pinyin Input, Google Play Books, Google Play Games, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, Google Play Newsstand, Google+, Hangouts, Help, HP Print Service Plugin, iWnn IME, Moto, Moto Actions, Moto Display, Motorola Alert, Motorola Checkin, Motorola Migrate, Motorola Notification, Photo Screensavers, Photos, Print Spooler, Rescue, Sound Recorder, Street View, Trusted Force, YouTube
How to dumb down your iOS device.
Don’t worry, Apple fanboys. You can accomplish the same thing on your overpriced phones (said by a guy who owns five Apple devices). And it’s a much quicker process on iOS.
- Uninstall all the of time-sucking apps that you’ve installed.
- Go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars. For each account you have, tap on that account and then ensure that the “Mail” option is toggled to the off position. This will make sure you don’t get email.
- Go to Settings -> General -> Restrictions and press “Enable Restrictions”.
Have a friend type in a restriction code for you and write it some place safe. Since it’s only four digits, you really shouldn’t do this step yourself. It’s far too easy to memorize.
- Toggle “Safari” to the off position.
- Toggle “Installing Apps” to the off position. This will prevent you from installing games or an alternate web browser or an alternate email client.
- Scroll down to the “Allow Changes” section and tap on “Accounts” and then change the setting to “Don’t Allow Changes”. This will prevent you from re-enabling email.
- Make any other restrictions that you so desire.
- Optionally tuck the now unusable Mail app, and any other uninstallable bloatware that you can’t delete, away somewhere you won’t see it.
- Enjoy being the only person at dinner who isn’t rudely checking his or her phone.
I’m Begging You
Please, please, please consider doing this. You don’t have to permanently commit, but please give it a try for 30 days.
There are some jokes thrown into this article, but I’m not joking. I wish I was. You have no idea how much I wish I was joking.
I don’t know your exact situation, and I don’t want to come across like I’m preaching. Maybe you don’t need this. And from the bottom of my heart I’m so happy for you if that’s the case. But I can tell you that doing this for myself truly and dramatically changed my life. It sounds stupid to say that disabling some apps on my phone could have such a profound impact on my life. And it is stupid. It’s stupid that anyone could allow themselves to get to such a point. But I did allow myself to get to that point.
I’m saying this to you completely embarrassed at what I let my life get to, filled with regret over all of the tiny details that I’ve missed in my life. And I’m begging you because I don’t think my smartphone abuse was any worse than the average person’s. And maybe that’s the saddest part: that phone abuse has become such socially accepted behavior that nobody even cares to address it.
Minimalist, intentional living has transformed my life. Turning my smartphone into a boring phone was just one part of my movement towards a more intentional life, a movement that’s always ongoing. But it was a huge first step. And it’s a low-friction first step. After all, if you don’t like it after 30 days, just undo all of your changes.
I’m begging you – please if you think there’s even a chance that your smartphone might not be the healthiest thing for you – to close your eyes and take a leap of faith with me.
Chances are that this list didn’t hit home for you. We’re so used to reading BuzzFeed articles every day like “27 Secrets Cats are Keeping from You” that we don’t even pay attention to what we’re reading anymore. Most readers of this article will see #17 and then immediately continue on to the next point. But, even for those of us who don’t have kids, #17 (and most of the others) shouldn’t be something to brush off. It should be something that makes us stop for a minute. Maybe even something that makes us so angry that we have to get up and take a walk.
If you’re struggling with this, reach out to me (info at the end of the article). Whether I can help or not, I’m happy to try.
This blog is brand spanking new, so I simply don’t have any more content of my own to share with you. Sorry! But if you liked this article and if you have decided to implement this hack and if you’re looking for more ways to lead a more intentional life, then I want you to get started on that now, not in a few months when I’ve finally written my take on everything.
So here I’ve listed five of my favorite pieces.
The Most Important Question of Your Life by Mark Manson
Spoiler alert, the question is “What pain do you want to sustain?” The post talks about how we all long for so many things like money, sex, happiness and great relationships. But are we willing to put in the necessary suffering to get what we want? And more importantly, given the choice of multiple pains, which do we choose? Do we pick the easy pain of suffering through a job we hate? Or do we pick the hard pain of struggling financially for a few years while we’re starting our own business?
Mark’s site is probably my favorite blog on the web. Every one of his posts is epic. And every one of his posts contains at least one bit that makes you scratch your head and say “whoah, what the hell have I been doing with my life?”
He even has one post called Minimalism.
The Year I Embraced Minimalism and Completed a Yearlong Shopping Ban by Cait Flanders
Cait normally blogs about budgeting, saving and other financial matters. But she’s also embraced minimalism. This particular post is powerful because it helps outline that the benefits of simplifying your life go well beyond enjoying an intentional, fulfilling life. Simplification also helps a ton with your finances. And although money is not the end goal, it is a very useful tool.
In addition to her site, Cait just recently started a podcast along with fellow financial blogger Carrie Smith of CarefulCents.com.
5 Simple Ways To Make Life Less Convenient by Anthony Ongaro
This post talks about exactly what it sounds like. Just as pulling out your phone is a super convenient means for pacifying your life, so too is frivolously spending and impulsively eating.
There are a lot of minimalism blogs on the web. And out of all of them, my perspective is probably more similar to Anthony’s than to anyone else’s. I think (correct me if I’m wrong, Anthony) that we both appreciate many of the qualities of minimalism, but we both embrace it first and foremost as a way to lead more intentional, less impulsive lives. Oddly enough – or maybe not – Anthony is also the first online friend I’ve made in the online minimalism space.
If you’d rather listen than read, check out Anthony on Intentionally Wandering – Episode 31 with Jeff Sandquist.
Why and How I Use Social Media by Joshua Becker
My article indirectly attacks social media. Sure, it’s about 27 ways your smartphone is stirring up trouble, but social media is a huge part of your smartphone and a huge part of the problem.
But I don’t mean to imply that social media is bad. It’s not. I personally get a ton of value from Twitter, for example.
Joshua does a great job of breaking down the good and the bad of social media, and he outlines ways to get the most of out of social media without letting it take over your life.
Our 21-Day Journey Into Minimalism by The Minimalists
The minimalism Mecca. If you have a minimalism question, the answer can probably be found on The Minimalists’ site. And if not, you can ask them directly on their weekly Periscope sessions.
The 21-Day Journey isn’t a single blog post. It’s an entire 21-part series on getting started with minimalism, and covers everything from selling off your old stuff to digitizing your life to making the most out of your relationships to valuing your time.
Do you have the guts?
Are you going to try a boring phone for 30 days? Have you already done something similar? Do you have a different example to add? Do you think phone addiction is bologna? Let me know.