Simple Ideas to Make Your Phone Less Addictive

Plus a few that almost nobody knows about

Simple Ideas to Make Your Phone Less Addictive

In this post, I'm collecting a list of ideas to make your phone less addictive. I've tried them all and they are working well for me, which is why I want to share them with you.


  • The most important first: Remove all notifications on the lock screen, disable all notification badges and all sounds. Make it a conscious decision when you check your phone instead of letting your focus be snatched away by a notification.
  • If a particular notification is important to you, you can choose to only see it when it is unlocked, or filter it by specific people (e.g., only show it in iPhone's Notification Center).
  • Make your phone less sexy: set the background to black, enable dark mode or similar, and disable all colors (see Accessibility settings).
  • Make addictive things harder to do: Put everything addictive in an inaccessible folder and only "tools" (like calculator, maps, clock, ...) on the home screen.
  • Better yet, identify and remove all addictive applications. This includes websites that you mindlessly browse on a regular basis. Make this a priority.
  • Use Screentime or similar app blockers to limit the amount of time and the timeframe where you can use your phone. I'm allowing myself to use my phone between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. The rest of the day, the apps are locked. I have to ask someone else to enter a PIN I carry on a small piece of paper. I don't know this PIN myself.
  • Train your contacts not to expect you to answer right away. They will call you when it's urgent. If you want to send someone a message, create a little reminder for yourself.
  • Disable easy unlock (e.g. FaceID / TouchID) and add a hard to enter passphrase. On iPhone, you can choose to enter an actual password/passphrase instead of a series of numbers. I use the passphrase for affirmations and to question my behavior. "Do I really need to use my phone?" is an actual passphrase I once used. This helps you spot when your monkey brain just wants to distract itself.
  • Use Apple Shortcuts or similar to your advantage so you don't have to unlock your phone to perform certain actions and not be exposed to notifications. For example, I have a shortcut to create a new reminder, which makes it easy to do without unlocking the phone.
  • Put things on your lock screen that you want to encourage. For example, shortcuts to start a meditation timer or other habits you want to strengthen.
  • Pro tip: Most people use the hardware toggle on the side of their iPhone to toggle between silent+vibration and ringtone+vibration. Use it instead to toggle between silent+no vibration and vibration only. On iPhone, you can do this by using an empty audio file as a custom ringtone.


  • Make it a priority not to use your phone in the morning. Set a time (e.g. 2-3 hours after waking up) when you're allowed to use the phone for the first time. And stick to this!
  • Same in the evening: Create a >1h protected zone where you don't use your phone. Every message/notification you get in the evening will occupy your mind, whether it's good or bad (it doesn't matter.) You can say to yourself: "Since this is not going to make me happier now and keep me from sleeping, it can wait until tomorrow.
  • Don't take your phone to the restroom.
  • When you're on the go, put your phone in your backpack instead of your pocket. This also seems to be better for testosterone, as far as I know.
  • In general, put your phone where you can't see it. I either keep it in my backpack or put it right behind my laptop screen.
  • Find out in which situations you use your phone most. During your commute? When you're bored? While you're eating? For each of these situations, replace using your phone with something else (e.g., "When I am on the train, I will do a short meditation/read a book," "When I am eating, I will concentrate on my food and nothing else," "When I am bored, I will make a list of things I can do/read a book," etc.).

I find that these ideas help me spend less time on my phone when I'm on the go and instead do other activities that I find more valuable. If you've got more ideas that are helping you or questions about this list, please let me know. Really, I mean it.