I believe screens should be tools that serve YOU (and not the other way around). But, if you’re not intentional, it is easy to go through life “serving your screens.” The default mode on most smartphones begs for your constant attention with frequent notifications and alluring features.
I don’t want to look back at the end of my life and see that I spent more time on my phone than in real life.
However, not all screen time is created equal. Some of the time I spend with screens leaves me feeling uplifted, empowered, excited, connected, and just “good.” On the other hand, some of the time I spend with screens leaves me feeling depressed, anxious, hurt, worried, lonely, down, and just “bad.”
These tips will help you be in control of your screens (and ensure that your screens aren’t controlling your life). These tips will ensure that screens are tools that serve YOU.
12 Tips to Make Sure Your Screens are Serving You
1. Consider the ways screens serve you
How do your screens serve you? Here are some of my favorite ways that my screens serve: Google Maps provides a GPS wherever I am, the calendar app helps me keep track of appointments, the Notes app provides a place where I can quickly write down any thoughts, Instagram has helped me connect with old and new friends, Pinterest helps me find fun activity ideas to do with my son.
2. Consider the ways you serve your screens
How do you serve your screens? Here are some ways you might serve your screens: mindless scrolling Instagram, disconnecting with your kids to read and respond to a non-urgent text, opening an email with a catchy subject line while you’re on a date with your husband, checking your phone for any new notifications when you are supposed to be writing a blog post (yes, I am 100% guilty of this).
3. Set up “Focus Modes” on your phone
You can set up different “Focus Modes” on your phone such as Work, Sleep, Personal, or even create your own such as Family Time or Spiritual. For each focus mode you decide who you can receive notifications from, which apps are allowed, and what types of notifications are allowed. You can even set up specfic focus filters such as only allowing certain websites or automatically turning the appearance to Dark Mode. You can customize your Lock Screen and Home Screen for each focus mode to limit distractions. You can set up specific focus modes to turn on at specific times or locations.
4. Uninstall unnecessary apps
Remove any apps that you don’t use or aren’t serving you.
5. Rearrange the apps on your phone
Organize your apps so that the apps that serve you and help you the most are on the first page of your phone’s home screen. Move apps that are more distracting and waste your time off the home screen.
6. Change the notification settings for each app
The default mode on smartphones is to allow all notifications from all apps. Think about which apps should be given the privilege to interrupt your life (your time with your kids and family, your time to to rejuvenate, your time to be present). Allow these apps to notify you with sight and sound. Turn off all other notifications.
7. Clean up your social media feeds
Unfollow or mute any accounts that aren’t serving you.
8. Hide the “like counts” on your social media feeds
I was convinced I didn’t notice how many likes people’s posts were getting, but after hiding the like counts I have been shocked at the difference it has made. I focus more on the person and the content. I didn’t realize how much I was judging other people based on how many likes their posts got and how much I was judging myself based on how many likes my posts got. See this post to walk you through the steps to do this.
9. Instead of swiping through to find an app on your phone, use the search feature instead
When you are swiping through your phone looking for an app you want to use, there is a good chance you will get distracted by all of the other apps you see. (I did this just yesterday when I was looking for my grocery list app and suddenly I had opened a group messaging app 😅). You can use the search feature on your phone instead to find the app you need.
10. Turn off the setting that allows “suggested apps” when searching
Step 8 is likely to be ineffective unless you make sure this setting is turned off. When searching on your phone the default mode will suggest apps that you frequently use, but you can turn this off (so you don’t get distracted by those time-sucking apps that it’s likely to suggest).
On the iPhone you do this by going to Settings >> Siri & Search >> Scroll down to “BEFORE SEARCHING” and Turn Off “Show Suggestions” and “Show Recents”
11. Sign up for this month’s Mindful with Media workshop
Join us on Thursday, February 23 at 8pm MT for a virtual, interactive workshop where we will discuss how to create & maintain healthy phone boundaries. Sign up here!
12. Make sure you are on my email list
My email subscribers get special treatment. I send you helpful tips and tricks that I don’t share anywhere else. You also get the best discounts and deals. Join my email list here!
These 12 simple tips will set your screens up so that they are more likely to serve you (rather than waste away your time). Want more tips like these sent straight to your inbox? Sign up for my email list!