Let me ask you a few questions…
- How often do you use your phone?
- Do you currently monitor your screen time?
- What do you actually use your phone for?
- How may apps do you have on your phone right now?
- Do you use every single app that you have? How often do you use each of them?
- Do you have notifications set up for every app?
These are questions I want you to think about as you read this post. It’s all in an effort to help you clean up your phone and clean up your life. This post might be hard for you to read because it’s raw, honest and gives a little tough love. But it’s helpful, I promise. As you read this, remember that it’s all from the perspective of an iPhone user. That being said, if you’re an Android user, this information is going to be helpful for you too.
How often do you use your phone?
This is the first question I want you to consider as you start the process of cleaning up your phone. Most people check it right when they get up and it’s the last thing they look at before they go to bed at night. And most people pick up their phone periodically throughout the day because, well, FOMO.
I asked my followers to see how often they use their phones, and did some research too. What I found was surprising.
The average person uses their phone 3 hours and 15 minutes per day. For people in the United States, that 3 hours and 43 minutes and in the United Kingdom, 3 hours and 23 minutes. That’s right in line with what my followers said and it equates to about 50 days per year.
People typically spend more time on their phone during the weekdays than on the weekends. No surprise here.
Most people check their phone about 58 times per day. Again, right in life with what my followers said. That being said, most of these checks were for less than 2 minutes. However, the phone is checked every hour and 43 minutes.
And it’s not just the teens that are spending a lot of time on their phones. GenX, which is age 41-56, spends about 169 minutes per day on their phone and Baby Boomers, which is age 57-75, spends about 135 minutes per day on their phone.
Another surprising stat is that phone usage nearly doubled after COVID.
So why is your phone such a distraction?
Despite all the good things our phones can do for us, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get our focus back after just picking up our phone. That’s a crazy amount of time, believe it or not. These simple mental blocks can cause you to lose about 40% of your productive time and that can mean losing money, energy and efficiency. This is why it’s so incredibly important to clean up your phone for max efficiency.
When you clean up your phone, you give yourself the opportunity to be as efficient and productive as you can be. I’m not saying do not use your phone, but I’m reminding you that it’s important to use it wisely. I once had a trainer in corporate tell me to use my time wisely. Well, the same applies with your phone.
Here are four ways to clean up your phone.
Start using screen time monitoring.
Every iPhone has the ability to monitor your screen time. Everything from how often you pick it up to how long you spend on certain apps. I took a look at my screen time for the previous week and this is what I found.
- My daily average use was 6 hours and 2 minutes. Granted, I use my phone for work and managing social media marketing, but that’s a quarter of my day.
- I picked up my phone 60 times per day. Again, I use it purposefully every day, but I’m sure these pick ups account for more than just using it for work.
- I received 88 notifications per day. Many of these have to do with my social media marketing tasks, but this is a lot of notifications.
These stats are shocking, but what is even more surprising is that these states were actually a DECREASE from the previous week. Clearly using screen time monitoring has helped, but I have some more work to do. If you haven’t turned it on, I highly suggest you do.
Say buh-bye to unnecessary apps.
Look at your phone right now. How many apps do you have? The research I did indicated that the average person has 40 apps installed on their phone. This is right in line with my followers, but when I looked at my phone, I almost doubled this number. Many of the apps I have on my phone are used for work, but still…THAT’S A LOT OF APPS!
After you’ve looked at your phone and counted the number of apps, be honest with yourself. How often do you use those apps? Do a true analysis. It’s only going to take a few minutes but it’s so worth it. In your analysis you should have four lists:
- The apps you use daily
- The apps you use a few times a week
- The apps you use a few times a month
- The apps you never use
Here comes the tough love. You ready for it? Delete the apps you use rarely or never. Yes, all of them. Why keep an app on your phone that’s taking up storage space (and mental space) if you hardly ever or never use it?! Only keep the apps you use regularly, meaning daily or weekly. Here’s a few examples:
I deleted my Gmail app because I set a boundary or rule to check my email once in the morning and once in the afternoon/evening from the computer. It freed me from the chain of checking my email every five minutes.
I kept my Instagram app because I use it every day to connect with my followers and for social media marketing. It had to be one of the ones to stay.
Shut off your notifications.
Yup, cut the cord and shut them off. At least most of them. Those little red badges on your apps are like a thorn in your side that just wants to be pulled out. As a perfectionist, the badge annoyed me so much it made me feel like I was a prisoner to my phone. And let’s be honest, you don’t have to be alerted to every little thing that comes in.
Yes, your device is a little computer in your pocket, but it’s intended to use for phone calls and messaging. Keep the notifications for the important things that are priorities. Telephone calls, texts and Facebook messages (if you have that app). Those may be the important notifications you’ll want to receive.
Timing is everything!
In order to run at the top of your game, you need to use time to your advantage. Create a schedule and a time limit for when you use your device and when you won’t. Set specific hours for checking things like your email, the Instagram DMs, texts and Facebook messages. Also, think about scheduling specific days when you will not be using your phone. Taking a day off from posting on social media won’t kill you or the connection you have with your true friends. They should know how to get ahold of you if they really need to. Here’s how I did it:
- I check my email and social media accounts around 7:30 AM. This is after I’ve gotten myself ready for the day. I do it again in the afternoon, usually around 3:00 PM.
- On the weekends, I make a point not to check my phone during the day, typically between the hours of 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM. This is so I can be present with whatever I’m doing. Yes, you may see me post on my Instagram story, but I’m not necessarily spending a lot of time on there.
- I stop using my phone about an hour before bedtime. This is so I can slow myself down and prepare my brain for really good, quality sleep. More coming on this topic in a future podcast…
Decluttering your phone can be a game changer. It’s not about not using your phone, it’s about increasing productivity and efficiency and enjoying the physical world around you. Remember, your phone can help you or it can hurt you. And your phone can work for you or you can work for it (because you’re always grabbing it to get those notifications). Make your phone work for you and your lifestyle, friend. Clean up your phone and enjoy your life!