phone with notifications

5 ways to stop being a slave to your smartphone, apps and notifications

Do you feel that your digital devices are distracting you more than they are serving you?

And do you want to co-exist with this technology but not have to deal with the negative effects on your health, focus, presence and energy?

Then this practical blog post is for you.

Even though I have a lot to say philosophically about all this, I’ll leave that for another time. I have written on “how social media is drugging our kids” though, by the way (which is related to this topic here).

But this post is only practical.

Here’s 5 tips to get your attention back:

Stop letting notifications steal hours of your time, happiness and focus

๐Ÿ“ฑ This works for mobile.

      • It’s easiest to just delete time sucking apps like Facebook and Instagram from your phone and only use them on your desktop/laptop. That way, you’re free from notifications on your phone. If that’s too drastic: check out how to disallow notifications on your phone so they don’t distract you during the day and you don’t spend costly minutes and energy swiping through your news feeds.
      • Get a distraction free “lock screen” by disallowing notifications to show up on your lock screen or disallowing notifications at all so you’ll only see if there is any news once you open an app yourself (without it blinking with a red notification bubble)
        no more lock screen notifications
        this should never be your phone when you pick it up
        this is how to disallow notifications on your iPhone lock screen
        how to disallow notifications on iphone lock screen
        this is how to disallow notifications at all on an iPhone
        and this is how to disallow notifications at all on an iPhone
      • Most important time sucking and distracting notifications are from apps like:
        • WhatsApp
        • Facebook
        • Instagram
        • Snapchat
        • YouTube
        • Netflix
        • SMS (Messages)
        • Calls (Phone)
          But everyone has their own apps that steal away their time, so go through your own apps and see for yourself which ones are important to you.
          Remember: it’s even easier to just delete the aforementioned apps from your phone at all. But if you’re not ready for that, make sure you disallow notifications so you don’t get distracted by them during your day.

Don’t get trapped in the news feed or suggested videos

๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿผโ€๐Ÿ’ป This works only work for laptops/desktop.

If you use a laptop, this is a huge help. It’s harder to control our attention on smartphones which is why I prefer to just delete those apps from my phone, but on desktops I use the following Chrome extensions to help me not get distracted.

      • Use Distraction Free for YouTube to get a clean YouTube experience (with no autoplay, suggestions or related videos).
        Distraction Free YouTube - hans kolbeek
      • Use News Feed Eradicator for Facebook to get a Facebook experience where you are not sucked into the newsfeed because it shows you a only a single quote instead of your news feed.
        Facebook News Feed Eradicator - Hans Kolbeek
      • Use Twitter Newsfeed Eradicator for blocking the Twitter timeline so you can post a tweet or message someone without getting sucked into random Twitter threads in your timeline.
        news feed eradicator for twitter - hans kolbeek
      • Use Newsfeed Burner for blocking the LinkedIn feed so you can post an update or message people without getting sucked into the news feed.
        newsfeed burner for linkedin - hans kolbeek


Follow way less people and businesses on Instagram and Twitter and engage more intensely

๐Ÿ“ฑ ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿผโ€๐Ÿ’ป This works for mobile and desktop.

      • Go to your “Following” tab on Instagram and/or Twitter. Unfollow A LOT of the accounts your following that are not critical to your inspiration or relation management. This way you can calm down your news feed a lot and engage more intensely with the people and brands you really love.


Don’t let push notifications rob you of your focus

๐Ÿ“ฑ ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿผโ€๐Ÿ’ป This works for mobile and desktop.

      • Block all browser notifications so you won’t get interrupted by push notifications from websites that want you to visit their site.
        If you’ve already allowed some, go to your Settings in Chrome to add them to your block list.
        block browser push notifications - hans kolbeek
        block mobile browser push notification - hans kolbeek


Clean out your email inbox and subscriptions

๐Ÿ“ฑ ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿผโ€๐Ÿ’ป This works for mobile and desktop.

Use Unroll.Me to:

      • Unsubscribe from lots of newsletters at once
      • Roll up several emails in 1 email
      • Leave them in your inbox as they are

I’ve unsubscribed from 494 emails since using this tool.

And I’ve added 252 emails to my rollup so they come in only once a day instead of spread out over the day.

Only 70 emails go straight to my inbox when the emails are sent (for example payment confirmations, order tracking info and anything else that is time relevant).


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