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Smartphone Time Management Tips

Ways to manage smartphone time management in 2023

With social media, emails, and technology increasing every year, smartphone time management has never been so difficult. These devices (and the apps on them) are designed to keep you addicted. If it’s free, you are the product.

I originally wrote an article on this topic in 2017. Over the years we have all struggled to reduce smartphone usage and it’s only gotten more difficult with remote work and additional social media platforms.

What I can say is my overall wellbeing, both physical and emotional, are far better on the days I spend less time on my phone (and computer). Here are 15 suggestions that might help you reduce your smartphone time too!

1) Use the focus feature

You can now customize various “focus” modes on the iPhone. This allows you to turn off all social media notifications and/or other app notifications that suck you in, while still receiving time-sensitive information.

2) Turn off all notifications except text and phone

Another option, turn off all notifications except “phone” and “texts”. Turn back the clock to the flip phone days and pretend like it’s 2001. Everything else on your smartphone can be accessed on an as-needed basis.

3) Hide the phone on off hours

I sometimes put my phone in the closet at night or during the day. If it’s within reach, I’ll reach for it. Text, emails, and social media right before bed and first thing in the morning can be detrimental to sleep, morning routines, and general well being. Need an alarm clock? Use a smart watch or an old fashion alarm clock (yes, they still exist).

4) Do a digital cleanse for smartphone time management

The number one reason we can’t get off our phones is we get a dopamine ping every time we receive instant gratification. And we receive instant gratification just by picking up our phone.

Every email, like, notification….even the satisfaction of clicking the home screen and seeing nothing sends a dopamine rush.

The cure? Do a dopamine-cleanse.

Reduce or remove things that you are “addicted” to. This can include checking your phone at all, social media, email, or even the satisfaction of finishing a project or task.

Once you’ve broken the “cycle” try to repeat this process to keep from getting sucked back in (see #12 for long term success).

5) Put a time limit on social media

The iPhone now allows you to put a time limit on certain apps. After that amount of time it will notify you that you are over and ask if you want to continue or not. Social media apps are probably the biggest issue for most people.

I have a limit of 15 minutes on Instagram. You only need to do 15 minutes of engagement per day on Instagram to see growth. The reality is most of us spend way more time than that, even though we don’t have to!

I sometimes click the “more time” option when the clock runs out, but at least I know when I’ve already invested the suggested “business growth” time. Anything after that is technically extra and maybe unnecessary for my goals.

6) Schedule social media in advance

I’ve always been a fan of scheduling social media posts in advance. If you are using social media for business you need to interact with your social media accounts daily (or almost daily) to see results. However, this doesn’t mean you need to be on there for hours a day.

Lately I’ve been a fan of Meta Business Suite for scheduling Facebook and Instagram posts. It is free and offers features that other platforms charge for.

If you need to post to more accounts, you can try buffer.com for free. Or there are numerous platforms to choose from if you have a monthly budget to spend on social media scheduling.

Why schedule in advance? Every time you log into social media you’ll be tempted to scroll the feed. By scheduling in advance you can plan and/or limit how much time you spend on various apps. If you are just logging in to check messages and do some engagement…imagine how much less time you’ll spend?

7) Remove social media apps and mail apps from your phone

This is a tricky one if you use these apps for business. Most apps, especially TikTok and instagram are designed to be used on your smartphone (and they do this for a reason).

This means the functions are limited on a browser. While you can schedule posts in advance and do a few things over a browser, it is impossible to remove these apps completely if you need them for business. However, if you don’t use them for business, it might be worth deleting as many as you can (if not all of them).

8) Limit the number of business and/or personal social media platforms

If you are using social media apps for business, you may not need as many as you think. In fact, you might be more successful by just building one platform at a time. If you know where your audience hangs out, just stick with that platform for now. If you enjoy a particular platform more than others, limit your time to that one.

As of the date of this article, I am focused primarily on Instagram. While I do have an audience on Facebook, I’m not a fan. So, I have my Instagram posts automatically sync to Facebook and I rarely log in on that second platform.

9) Get off of social media all together

I wish I could get off of social media all together. I have made some truly amazing connections through these platforms and every time I am ready to ditch them for good, I try to remember this. It’s not all bad.

If you can, take a break. There is a nice deactivation setting on many apps that allow you to use without deleting your account entirely. Or, just remove a few accounts. A few years back I deleted about half the social media accounts I was on. If I wasn’t using it, I deleted it. 

10) Automate when possible

There are numerous ways to automate the backend of your business. Certainly scheduling social media is one of them.

However, since we used our phones for all sorts of business applications, it would make sense that the more we can automate, the less we have to spend on our phones (or computer in general).

So what sorts of things can you automate?

Email marketing is a great one. Rather than sending out individual emails, you can create automations with a third-party application such as ConvertKit (my personal fav).

There are other automation apps such as Zapier that allow you to create all kinds of sequences. For example, you can have sales from your website automatically entered into a data spread sheet, or a Gmail email sent when a specific action occurs, and much more!

11) Use pencil and paper sometimes

Go old fashion and start to replace “apps” with pencil and paper.

For example, replace your todo list with an old fashion planner. I am a big fan of using online tools for project planning and project management because this is almost impossible with pencil and paper. In fact, I’m obsessed with Notion for tracking all sorts of things.

But for your day to day to-do list, habit tracking, etc…if there is anything that can be tracked on paper, give it a try. I’ve recently switched tracking habits, personal goals, daily to-dos, and practice time to pencil and paper.

12) Look at the real reason you are picking up for your phone 100 times a day.

For most of us, we are picking up our phones because we are “looking for something”. Maybe it is a better way to do something, a habit we want to stick to, or just as a distraction.

However, have the apps you’ve downloaded really been that useful? Have they truly helped as much as you thought they would? What are you distracting yourself from?

13) Track your ROI’s

If you are using social media for business (or your smartphone in general), and you can’t ditch it, make sure the time you spend is worth it. How much time are you spending? Now, how much return are you getting back per that time spent?

14) Use your computer more

While all technology can be hard on our brains, we seem to be a little less addicted to our computers. Most communications can be synced between devices—including texts. Try putting your phone away for the day and just using your computer for work. Do you find that you aren’t checking it as often?

[ Spend less time on your devices with these 5 time-saving website hacks]

15) Find an accountability buddy

Go through this process with someone. A trusted friend or family member may want to go on a smartphone cleanse with you. Most of us do better when we have someone (or something) holding us accountable.

A self-bribe might also be enough to kick things into gear. If there is something you’ve been wanting to treat yo self to, maybe now is a good time to throw that in the ring.

Bonus Tip: Setting a pattern is your secret weapon

Patterns are made up of habits (the little things you repeat on a regular basis). The thing about patterns is they are nearly impossible to break. This is why a bad pattern (too much time on your smartphone, for example) can be really challenging to change in the long term.

The good news is, healthy patterns are equally as difficult to break! If you can repeat one small healthy smartphone habit daily for a while (months even), it will turn into a pattern.  And once it’s a pattern, it will actually be hard to spend too much time on your phone. Image that?

Need some help reseting your patterns? I recommend reading Atomic Habits by James Clear (it’s a game changer!)

Khara Wolf Design LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Affiliate links may appear in this blog and help support free content at no additional cost to you.

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