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Using Your Smartphone to Unplug

Modern smartphones feature more apps and features than ever to help you accomplish daily tasks, stay organized, connect with friends and family, and just have fun while riding the subway. The convenience and innovation of a smartphone can also be a drawback — many people spend too much time looking at screens.

Mobile device addiction increases every year: Americans now spend more than 3 hours per day staring at their phones. As with everything in life, time on your smartphone should be spent in moderation to achieve a healthier, happier life. Luckily, there are several features and apps on your smartphone you can use to unplug.

Monitor Your Screen Time

When you see the amount of time you actually spend on individual apps you may be tempted to remove the primary culprits like Snapchat or Facebook from your phone completely. If you have an iPhone with an up-to-date iOS you can access the new Screen Time feature by navigating to SettingsScreen Time. Here you can see a detailed breakdown of your screen usage per app, and even set time limits for certain apps.

Google’s Digital Wellbeing app works in a similar manner. The features are available on all Pixel phones and will be made available for Android One devices. Once you download Digital Wellbeing from the Google Play Store you can view graphs detailing how much time you spend on every app, how many notifications you receive, and how often you check your phone. You can also set usage limits for apps.

Remove the Color

Phone notifications are intentionally designed to grab your attention with bright colors. This psychologically demands you “react” immediately — remove the color-based reinforcement of phone notifications by activating grayscale on your smartphone. No more shiny red dots!

To turn on grayscale for iPhones navigate to SettingsGeneral → Accessibility → Accessibility Shortcut → Color Filters. Turn Color Filters on and select Grayscale. Now you can press the Home button three times to toggle between color and monochrome. On Android devices, first enable Developer mode by navigating to Settings → About phone and tapping several times on Build number. Now head to Developer → Hardware Accelerated Rendering → Simulate color space and choose Monochromacy.

Rely on Airplane Mode

One simple habit that will help you break free of your smartphone is to enable Airplane Mode when you don’t want to be distracted. Start switching your phone to Airplane Mode when you’re focusing on work, hanging out with friends, driving, walking through the park, catching the latest episode of your favorite show, or doing anything else you deem important.

Airplane Mode allows you to keep your phone handy for emergencies, and once you make it through a week of enabling Airplane Mode regularly you will find you need your smartphone less regularly. Missed calls can always be returned and notifications can be addressed in concentrated spurts when you have downtime.

Get Help From Apps

These apps also help you take control of your tech time:

  • Thrive Away — This Android app helps you set boundaries by disabling apps, notifications, calls and texts other than those from people on a pre-approved VIP list. Schedule times when you don’t want access to these features to force yourself to unplug.
  • Flipd — Flipd features dozens of ways to track and prioritize the time you spend on your smartphone, including therapeutic sounds and wellness resources for a more holistic approach. Flipd will make problem apps disappear from your phone when you don’t want to access them.
  • Siempo — Siempo’s great interface reduces distractions by unbranding the icons of your apps, randomizing their location, and allowing you to batch notifications so you aren’t bombarded with “dings” all day.

To upgrade to the latest smartphone with all of the features you need to monitor your screen time and live mindfully visit a GoWireless location near you. Our experts are ready to assist you in taking control of your tech.