Phone Detox

Now that we have completed the Tech Tools for the sales professional series, I wanted to take a rather non-techy approach to this week’s blog.  Because of two different articles I have read in the past few months, I decided to go through a phone detox.  I initially started looking at this concept during the summer when a good friend of mine and great daddy blogger Adrian Kulp wrote a blog “Is it possible to find a Mobile-Life Balance this summer?”  Adrian also has a great book if you are an expecting father.  In his blog, Adrian introduced me to the Xfinity Mobile Cleanse Challenge.  The phone cleanse is a modern guide to improve your mobile well-being.  The second article came from Tim Ferris’s 5-Bullet Friday email.  In one of the recent emails, he told his readers about an article he has been reading titled: “How to Configure your iPhone to Work for you, not Against you.”  In this post, I plan to help you merge the two of these articles together and over a 7 day period, we will help you detox from your phone.
Before we get started, I wanted to acknowledge the fact that I understand that if you are reading this blog, you are most likely in sales and if you are in sales, most likely your cell phone is one of the key tools you use to communicate with your prospects.  Believe it or not, you can follow all of the advice in the column and still not lose the connectivity you think you need with your prospects and customers.

Day One: The App Purge

Every day, you’re carrying around mobile apps that you never use.

The Goal: Delete 10 Apps.  Right now. They’re hiding in rarely visited folders or buried on your phone’s fourth page. Get rid of them.

As you start looking at your apps on your phone, you probably recalled why you downloaded it. Regardless of if you added it for one-time use, or in hopes that it would become part of your regular routine, now it is just taking up space on your phone.  As you look at each app, ask yourself: “Have I opened this in the past 90 days?” If not, then you know what to do.  If you click on Setting -> General ->iPhone Storage you will see a list of your apps and when you last used them.

Beyond the freeing up of storage space, there is something more important in deleting these apps, You will become more efficient.  Less mobile bloat means more mobile productivity. 

While the goal was to only delete 10 apps, feel free to delete more.  Obviously, you will not be able to delete 10 apps every day.  But you can start some smart habits to keep your phone efficient.

  1. Set a monthly calendar alert to remind you to go through your phone and delete unused apps.
  2. Get in the habit of deleting one app for every new app you download. (I do this with my kids on their iPods and it works great.)

Day Two: Go Gray for a Day.

Sometimes our screens are so enchanting it seems impossible to stop scrolling.  

The Goal: Say Goodbye to color and put your phone in grayscale.  Search for Color Filter or Color Adjustment and toggle the color switch.

At first this might not seem like a big deal, but wait a few hours. Well, it only took me a few minutes to realize the impact a grayscale was having on my enjoyment of the phone.  Color perception impacts excitement and attention levels, so as you look at a gray news feed on Facebook, or a colorless game, those satisfying hits of dopamine are less frequent.  Without color, the apps that you like to escape to aren’t quite as stimulating.
You will realize that you use your phone in a different, more efficient way.  Instead of mindless scrolling sessions on social media, you will be purposefully using apps such as your email, text and calendar – they all work just fine in Grayscale.  
After day two, you are free to go back to color. But before you do, complete the following three tasks:

  1. Recognize which apps weren’t enjoyable in grayscale, and move them to a folder on the third page of your phone.
  2. Dim your screen brightness to help curb usage of the most captivating apps – and save some battery life.
  3. Be strategic about your wallpaper.  This tip came from the Tim Ferris recommended article.

The absolute best wallpaper is an all black background. First benefit of moving to a black background is that it will save the battery life.  I have switched to a black background for the about two weeks now and it has been great for my battery and my attraction to the phone.  To change to a black background do the following steps:

  • Go to Settings -> Wallpaper -> Choose a new wallpaper -> Stills. The all-black option is right there at the end.

Day Three: The 24-hour notification fast

Here’s the trick to answer all of those alerts that keep begging for your attention.

The Challenge: Open your settings, scroll to “Notifications,” and turn off ALL of them – texts, emails, everything for an entire day.

This one was the more nerve racking of all of the days.  Can you feel the anxiety setting in?  Are you worried about missing an email or text message? It will be OK! Remember, you can still use your phone during the day, but now you’ll look at it based on your schedule and your desires, not based on a ding or vibration.  
We have all become trained to react to the buzz in your pocket, but on a day without notifications, you have the freedom to focus. You can now give your full attention to your to-do list or your family after hours.  
On day four, do not turn all notifications back on.  Following the following tips from our other article of inspiration.
Keep OFF (almost) all notifications
Open the Apple Settings App, then go to the notifications section. You should already have everything off from the detox.

Here are the exceptions I have created to the no notification detox.

  • For all Delivery apps, leave notifications on.  These alerts are supposed to only come when you want them.  
  • If you get very few text messages, turn off badging on your messages app but leave banners on. Since you’re setting your phone up to have very few notifications, you’ll actually end up seeing most of your text messages on your home screen as they come in.  Removing the unread badge from messages is a good way to eliminate the anxiety that those red numbers create.  If you get a lot of text messages, then turn off all notifications and treat text messages like an inbox that you only check at set intervals. If you are the one of those people sending hundreds of text messages throughout the day, then you are crazy and throwing your life away
  • Leave notifications on for your calendar app. Not missing appointments is basically the entire point of  a cell phone.
  • Leave notifications on for Maps. Mapping apps only notify you when you’re actively getting directions
  • Leave notifications on for phone calls.  
  • For all the notifications that you left on, go back and make sure badges are turned off. Badges are the red dots with numbers in them that give you anxiety that there’s something important going on in that app. You’ll live longer if you never see another badge.  This has been the most earth-shattering experience during my detox.  It has been so peaceful to see no badges on my phone.  

So how does doing this improve your productivity?  

  1. Notifications are uncontrolled interruptions from your real goals. They prevent you from ever getting into a flow.  You should be in control of what you do and when – not your phone.
  2. The brain science behind learning requires sustained focus to trigger myelin growth around active neural pathways.  In layman terms: Notifications lead to a stunted life!
  3. These red dots cause many people anxiety and anxiety causes health problems like heart disease.  

Another notification that can interfere with your life is App Review Request.  You open an app intending to get stuff done, and then that app prompts you to leave a review. This unwanted interruption slows you down and messes with your mojo.  You should remove as many interruptions as possible.
To disable unwanted review request:Go To Settings -> Apple ID -> iTunes & App Stores.

We are going to talk about this next step again on day 6 but you can go ahead and get started now.  Turn on Do Not Disturb

Do not disturb is not as severe as you might think, thanks to a sub-feature: “Allow calls from favorites”  As a result, you can still allow certain people to interrupt you or wake you up.  
As a sales professional, you may have unknown people calling you and you would not want to set all your clients as favorites so a 24-hour do not disturb doesn’t make sense.  But you can set Do Not Disturb for your sleep and family time.

  • Go to Settings -> Do Not Disturb
  • Mark Do Not Disturb and Scheduled.  I do my schedule from 10:00pm until 5:00am.

I allow calls from my favorites who are my wife, kids, parents, neighbor and boss.  The final selection is repeated calls.  I keep this off because a telemarketer may try and call back and get in touch with me.  
You also have the ability to set weekends as Do Not Disturb times as well.  

Day Four: The Storage War

It is time to stop carrying around so much dead weight

The Challenge: Free up storage by clearing five gigs of media. Photos, videos, music, texts – delete whatever it takes to make space.

All phones these days have built-in storage.  If you want to clean out some big data remember that digital items can be re-downloaded.  Did you download a few movies from Netflix for a long flight but did never got around to watching?  Delete and re-download when you need to.  Have your summer playlist from 2016 still on your phone?  DELETE.  
Cleaning up your storage and the clutter it brings will provide you with peace of mind.  There is nothing worse than trying to take a video and you have reached your storage limit.  
Once you have cleaned up your storage, you can follow the following steps to minimize how much data you do store.

  • Change your settings to delete old text after 30 days
    • Go To Settings -> Messages -> Keep Messages select 30 days
  • Download Google Photos and set it up to instantly save pictures.  Then every time your photos syncs to Google Photos, you can have the default album delete the photos.  This will save a good amount of storage. 

Day Five: The 60-minute rule

How long can you go without looking at your phone?      

The Challenge: Only check your device once an hour. When you do look at it, limit your time to a max of 10 minutes.

Before the detox, you could access your phone at any moment.  Hopefully by removing unneeded apps, gone gray, removed notifications and cleared the clutter should make it easier to avoid the temptation of looking at your phone.  What did you use to do?  Riding an elevator?  Look at your phone. In a waiting room for a meeting? Look at your phone.  We want to limit that.  
By breaking up your watching time to 10 minutes per hour, you will know when to pay attention to your phone and when to pay attention to your actual life.  By limiting yourself to 10 minutes, you will be extremely judicious in what apps you check and where you spend your time.  
A couple of things you can do to help with this rule:

  • Turn off the Raise to wake
    • Go to Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Raise to Wake.  Turn off.

This is good to use so that when you pick up the phone and look at it by default you will not see all of your notifications (which should be reduced by now).  Adding the one extra step of clicking the screen before you can unlock makes it easier to not look at it.

  • Have a black background. We discussed this already but if you don’t have a pretty picture on your screen, you have one less thing to look at.  
  • Add the screen time widget
    • The screen time widget is new from Apple and it helps show you where your time is going. Ideally, the social media category will be non-existent.  Unsurprisingly, I’m not going to be able to find a screen shot where that is true.  
    • To install the screen time widget
      • Swipe to the Today Screen by swiping right from your home screen
      • At the bottom of the Today Screen, select Edit. This will bring up a list of apps that have widgets.
      • Tap the green plus button for Screen time to enable the widget, and then tap and hold on the three-horizontal-lines button (hamburger) to reorder the widget to be near the top.  
      • Just like using Atracker to track your time for work, This will be a reality check against your own memory.

Day Six: Sleep Separation

Your phone is getting in the way of a good night’s rest.

The Challenge: After setting your alarm before bed, put your phone completely out of reach and don’t touch it again until morning.

When was the last time you kept your phone out of bed? Tonight’s challenge might seem unnatural for you, but our tired bodies do better without a screen so close to our face. The blue light from our screens blocks the production of melatonin, which we rely on to fall asleep.
Forcing yourself to sleep phone-free isn’t just about the physical impact; doing so will also change your mindset. Without the temptation to endlessly swipe, those feelings of excitement, anxiety, and stress vanish. Instead, the focus is on deep, undisturbed sleep.  We have all been there, you check Facebook one last time and someone on there makes some stupid comment and you just have to respond to correct their thinking and 15 comments later you are riled up and no longer able to sleep.
I use my phone as my alarm so having it out of arms reach also helps in waking up because I am forced to get out of bed.  A couple of other things you can do to help you here are:

  • Set up Do Not Disturb which we discussed for day three.  Not hearing notifications, not receiving phone calls all make it easier to keep the phone away from you.  
  • Schedule night shift to go into effect four hours before you normally go to bed.
    • Night shift changes the colors of your display away from the blue spectrum and toward the warmer or redder spectrum.  This is supposedly to help you sleep better. To do this follow these steps:
    • Go To Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Night Shift.
    • Schedule it to start four hours before your normal bed time
    • Much like how gray scale makes your phone less pleasing, moving to night shift changes the color and the visual pleasing aspects of the phone.  This will assist you in getting ready for bed and make it easier to dock the phone away from you.

Day 7 – The Minimalist Home Screen

The most obvious distractions are living on you home screen.

The Challenge: Clear your home screen of every app. Leave only text, email, and phone in your toolbar, and put everything else in a single folder on your second page.

First off, give your fingers a break. A complete app reorg is like a marathon for your hands trying to find where everything is.  So as you get used to this new layout, use the search bar to find what you need.  To find the search bar on an iPhone simply swipe right to get to your Today Screen and then swipe down to get to the search bar.  Minimizing your home screen will keep you from getting lost in an app wormhole or the social media slot machines and forgetting why you even opened the phone to begin with.
You will notice how refreshing it is to look at a fairly empty home screen.  That once overwhelming page is now a place of simplicity.  As you begin to reorganize the other pages follow these simple tips

  • Hide the social media slot machines
    • Slot machine apps is a title given to apps that use variable rate rewards to try to trigger mindless and addictive behavior. You can control this by removing the notifications which we already have done and moving them out of sight.  
    • Move Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, LinkedIn, and Tumblr into a folder on your second screen. These are the addictive apps.  You could title the folder whatever you want.  The default would be Social but I like calling it Leisure so that my mind knows this is a meant to be done at my leisure, not the apps.  After you have everything in the folder, you need to hide the apps in the folder. You want to put one app on the front page of the folder. I pick LinkedIn because it does have some redeeming qualities that are used for work.  On the second page of the folder, I put everything else.  That way when I look at the folder on my phone I am not tempted to look at Facebook or Instagram.  
  • Hide the messaging apps slot machines
    • Slack, mail, messages, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, dating apps you name it, I have a folder for all of them and title it Messages.  
    • Again I put all of them on the second page with th messages app on the first page.  
    • The key with all of the messages is to find a time and schedule it in your day to check these.  I check them about 4 times a day and respond to all my messages in bulk.  
    • Many people worry about missing an emergency type situation.  I assure you if someone messages you about an emergency situation and you do not respond, they will call you.  
  • Finally organize your folders and the apps in the folders alphabetically.  I work well knowing where the apps are.  Some people have also used color as a way to organize.  Everyone knows that the Facebook logo is blue.  Regardless of what way you choose, pick one and stick to it.  

Now that you have completed the 7 day detox, you should be less reliant on your phone, have it organized to be more productive and less addicting. If you would like to learn more tips and tricks from the Tim Ferriss recommended article, you can find it HERE.  

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