Mindful Cell Phone Use

Our phones can be an incredible tool, and when used mindfully, they can be a blessing-especially when you live abroad! I can keep up with family, take and share photos and videos, and quickly communicate with friends. And like any good millennial, I use it as a clock. 

One of my goals for 2017 was to look at my cell phone consumption. Are my friends and family seeing the top of my head when we hang out, because I'm looking at Snapchat or checking my work emails? Yep! Guilty! 

 Once I decided I wanted to cut back on my cell phone usage, I considered how often I check my phone and why. That led me to updating my notification settings.

When an app wants to alert you, it can make a noise, show up on your lock screen, show a banner on your regular screen and show a red circle on the app itself saying “Open me right NOW!”  It doesn’t even say “Excuse me” before it interrupts! The nerve…


So how we can we start using our cell phones mindfully?

First let’s take the sunset test.

Sunset Test

Picture yourself sitting and watching a gorgeous sunset. You’re with good company and soaking up every second. Then you hear a buzz. 

What is important enough to pull your attention away from this moment?

A call from your mom? A message from a friend who you’re about to meet? Maybe. But chances are that is not why your phone interrupted.


Let's adjust your notifications:


1. Turn off ALL lock screen notifications.

If you use your phone as a clock, you need to be able to turn on the screen without being bombarded with information that will take you out of the present moment. 

Lock Screen Notifications


2. Turn off ALL sounds, except for phone calls.

We do not need to hear a ding every time we get an email or someone likes a photo or post. I used to have a sound for my work email, and every time it went off, I would feel a sense of urgency. I pictured a parent who had an important question or a colleague who needed a quick reply. Hearing that specific ding would make my body would involuntary tense up. I was like Pavlov's pup, except I wasn't getting a treat for checking my email! 


3. Turn off ALL badge app icons.

It’s red and it looks urgent, but it's not. It looks like it needs to be resolved right away so that it will disappear. I also hated having a red circle with a high number! Eek!!

Badge App Icons


4. Turn off ALL banner notifications.

This one is the worst. Say you’re typing a text to your dad, and your friend messages. It will show your friend’s text message immediately at the top of your screen without being clicked on. I like to think I'm a good multitasker, but this is just not necessary. 

Banner Notifications


5. Now decide what demands an alert from your phone.

What is important enough to pull your attention away from your beautiful sunset moment??

Turn on only the notifications you need. For example, my husband and family message me through FB messenger, so I let these notifications show up in my lock screen with a sound. I also enabled Phone and Facetime notifications. All my other apps have the notifications disabled. And it’s amazing. 



Now go and enjoy that sunset!


With Love,