The smartphone can be used in a way that helps you to achieve what you want. The goal is to use it to support positive habits that help ensure that you reach your goals. By reaching your goals, you put your self on the path to achieve your mission.

The problem is that smartphones can be used in a way that turns them into giant distractions. Let's face it, scrolling through Instagram for two hours a day is not the best use of your time. There is a way to beat it. You need to start relying on healthy routine habits that actually move you forward each day. 

It's your responsibility for your own life to figure out where you want to end up. Then work backward and make sure that everything you do is getting you closer to that destination.

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Figure Out Where You Are Going ?

Before we dive into your phone, you must know where you are going. This is going to look much different based on what it is that you're trying to achieve.

When you get in your car to drive somewhere, and you don't know the destination, what is the first thing you do? You figure out where you are going!

Too many people get in their cars, and they start driving with no destination. They go to college, they get their masters, they get a job, and they never know if any of it is going in the right direction.

It's your responsibility for your own life to figure out where you want to end up. Then work backward and make sure that everything you do is getting you closer to that destination.

  • Find Your Destination (where you want to go)

Make It Visible or Invisible to Support Positive Habits ?

Once you know where you are going, you need to set up your phone to help you be successful. One of the best first steps is to delete or move apps that hurt you. By moving them out of sight, you decrease the chances of them distracting you.

Then you want to take the apps that are going to help you and put them on the front page. Make them as easy to get to as possible. For example, Habit Stacker should be an app that is front and center for you. The app helps you build habits, and it's not designed to be on all day.

Apps I Deleted or Moved to Support Positive Habits ?

  • Twitter

  • Instagram

  • Facebook

  • YouTube

  • Zillow (leave me alone, I like looking at houses I guess)

  • Email

  • Pandora

Apps I Moved to The Front Page to Support Positive Habits  ?

  • Habit Stacker - Duh

  • Buffer - Social media management

  • Anchor - Podcast daily

  • Mixpanel - App Analytics

  • Elevate - Keep my brain sharp

  • Podcasts - Always learning

  • Google Analytics

  • WhatsApp - How I talk to my team all over the world

  • TED - More learning

  • MailChimp - Email marketing

  • Holy Bible - Praise God

  • BofA - Count Dem Racks

You see a theme here? The easiest way to set your phone up for success is to make it easy to access the apps that will help you. You don't need to use the apps I use because I may be going a different direction than you. The point is that your phone is a great tool to support positive habits. 

  • Move Unwanted Apps Out Of Sight
  • Make The Apps You Want More Accessible

Create Your Own Rules to Support Positive Habits ?

I have my own rules about how I use my phone. When I do it right, my screen time does not matter at all because if I am on my phone, I am using it for a good reason.

I live and die by these phone rules. You need them because they give you guidelines for how you will interact with your phone.

  • Make Nonnegotiable Rules
  •  You should never bend on your healthy routine habits

Here Are The Rules I Use to Support Positive Habits ?

  1. Turn notifications off for texting (if it's important they will call)
  2. Only important things pop up for a locked phone
  3. Only two pages of apps allowed
  4. Apps below the second row on page two are temporary
  5. Distracting apps get deleted
  6. No folders on the front page.

There are two bright things that I want on my phone. I don't want it to distract me or clutter my thinking. When I see people with 1000 apps and folders, it gives me anxiety. I need apps that build me up and challenge me. That is what gets me to where I'm going.

I also and very careful with my notifications. I hate trash notifications. Apps telling me things that don't matter at all. I need notifications that help me to get better.

  • Manage Your Notifications
  • Limit Your Apps

Make It Painful to Use Things That Don't Help You ?

I use Buffer to post on social media because that helps me get towards my mission. Scrolling through social media for hours is not an issue when I need to post. That does not mean I don't use Instagram or Twitter. I will use it but not on my phone. I usually have to go to a desktop, and it's only during work breaks, so I get 10 mins at most.

You want to make it super inconvenient to go-to habits that you want to get away from. For example, if you're going to watch less TV, you grab that thing and put it in the closet. If you want to watch TV, you have to want to watch it so bad that you set the TV up each time.

  • Make It More Inconvenient To Be Distracted

Explore the App Store and Ask About Awesome Apps ?

Three years ago, I did not even know that there were Habit Trackers, and now I have my own. I only found out about them in a book. You want to discover what apps are out there that will help you get closer to your mission.

For some reason, the only apps you ever hear about are the ones that take all your money, games, and social media apps. Not saying none of those matters but as an adult trying to achieve things, they tend to be a waste of time. You want to focus on the apps that support positive habits. 

Find people who are successful in the areas you want to be successful in and ask them what apps they use. If you notice some apps in common among a few of them, it may be worth checking those apps out. The end goal is to stick with the most reliable healthy routine habits you can get. 

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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