3 Tips for a Distraction-Free iPhone

How to spend less time on your phone

It’s 7am. I pick up my phone, unlock it, click on an icon and start scrolling.

😇 What am I doing?

😈 Scrolling Instagram.

😇 Why?

👿 I — don’t — know!

Well, actually I knew what I was doing. I was simply going through the habit of scrolling shots of people I was following.

Long story short: The “hook” is a framework making any product a habit. 🔍 Have a look at my Sketchnotes on the topic!

Instagram is a really good example of a hook framework implementation. This framework works with both external and internal triggers to build habits, layer after layer. It creates unprompted user engagement without even giving time for the user to think about it.

After reading about Jake Knapp’s year with a distraction-free iPhone, I started re-thinking how my iPhone is organized and how I use it.

It happened in 3 phases.

My distraction-free iPhone, in 3 screens.

1. Turn off all notifications

Your phone lights up or rings. What happens? You stop your current task, look at it and lose your focus.

Hopefully, there is a simple and stupid trick for this: disabling all notifications. My lock screen never pops any notification.

2. Add a blank landing screen

It comes from this interview of François Chartrand, Product Designer at Headspace. In his own words, coming from a tip of his co-founder, this is a way “to keep your home screen blank, so that you intentionally swipe to browse your apps and add a layer of friction between the present moment and the digital world.”

I loved the idea and implemented it. It allows me to see only my quick-access apps when I open my phone.

3. Keep just the essential apps

The Minimalists created a methodology called the Packing Party. This technique consists in packing all of your stuff; all of them. Then, for let’s say two months, whenever it is necessary, unpack the one item you need. At the end of the two months, you should be able to give, exchange or sell the stuff that stayed in the boxes.

Well, I applied this with my phone. Some kind of an “iPhone Party”! Of course, I couldn’t pack the apps. And I didn’t want them to be just hidden in a folder; it would have been easy access and loose the value of this exercise. So I deleted all of the apps. Also, I didn’t need to wait for two months. I use my phone way enough everyday to cover the experiment in only three days.

Note that some built-in apps can’t be deleted. But you can hide them, like Safari (through the restrictions, in the settings).

And that’s it! Now, I just have the apps I need on my phone. But, things are never black or white. I still have some apps that we could consider as distraction.

  • Messaging apps: They are definitely a source of distraction, but I need them. I simply turned off the notifications to keep only the red badges. That way, I control when I want to see those messages.
  • Twitter: This could be the worst distraction app! Though, I use it only for professional purposes and it never happened that I stayed on it more that 10 minutes a day.
  • Music making app: Not a useful app. But this is part of my personal goals to learn how to create electronic music. Then, I don’t consider it as a waste of time.
  • One game: Now, I know what you are thinking. “This guy is a scam! He has a game in his distraction-free iPhone!” Well, I may use this game twice a month maximum. But I decided to keep it as it has the power of relaxing me in less than 5 minutes.

Now and then

I still have sometimes this habit of grabbing my phone without any reason, unconsciously looking for some useless distraction. But, seeing the blank screen quickly reminds me that I won’t find what I’m looking for.

It would be difficult to measure how much time I gain everyday. But, for sure, I increased my productivity. Or, to be more exact, I decreased the amount of time I spend watching useless content.

Share your stories

If you have a similar story or any feedback on this, please reach out through Twitter. I would love to hear about your phone use!