Using the iPhone Less: Tips That Really Help

Do you spend too much time on your cell phone and actually want to spend it on more important things? Instead of Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook, do you prefer to have time away from the smartphone display to read a book, pursue your hobby or take a walk? Here you will find tips that really help you to be less on the phone. Regardless of whether you use the Apple iPhone less or want to put an Android smartphone aside more often, just look for the tricks that you think make the most sense. 

Do without your mobile phone more often, don't waste too much time in social media apps and reduce screen time - with the tips here you will be able to use the iPhone less.

Do without your mobile phone more often, don't waste too much time in social media apps and reduce screen time - with the tips here you will be able to use the iPhone less.

Quick tips for less time on the iPhone

Whether Apple iPhone, Android smartphone or other mobile phone: Before we get to the tips explained in detail, instructions for certain settings under iOS and other tricks, here is a list of quick recommendations. If they already help you, then that's great. If you are looking for further recommendations for reducing screen time, just scroll down and read the following paragraphs. 

These are the quick tips for less time on the iPhone:

  • Put the mobile phone down somewhere else or put it away when working so that it is not in view
  • Place the device with the display facing down so that notifications are not directly visible
  • Activate the silent function to turn off notification tones
  • Uninstall apps that eat up time but are of no real use (games, Facebook, etc.)
  • Certain services (Twitter, e-mail, Amazon, etc.) can only be used in the browser to make it a little more difficult
  • Read the time from the watch instead of looking at the iPhone display over and over again
  • Find other routines to replace mobile phone use (hobby, walk, reading, etc.)
  • Set up cell phone-free rooms, e.g. B. the office, the bedroom, the dining table, etc.

Spending less time on the phone: It's like losing weight ...

Maybe you've already had it for a while Digital detox tried and deliberately refrained from using social media, messengers, messaging apps and the like for a week or two. But then you went back to your previous, excessive usage behavior, didn't you? Otherwise you probably would not have clicked on this guide. 

That's because switching smartphone usage works just like losing weight. A diet or a temporary fast is of no use if the diet is not changed afterwards, but is eaten as before (i.e. with an excess of calories). So protect yourself against the digital yoyo effect by not lining up periods of renunciation and use, but consciously and permanently changing the use of mobile phones. 

Step one: analyze screen time

Let's stay briefly with the weight loss comparison: This process usually compares an actual and an ideal state, i.e. the current weight and what one wants to achieve and maintain. With regard to the use of iPhone and Co., the screen time comes into play here instead of a scale. You call it up on the iPhone under iOS as follows:

  1. Open the on the iPhone SettingsApp
  2. Tap on the menu item Screen time
  3. Now choose View all activities

Here you can see how long you use the iPhone every day and for which apps or which areas you spend the most time. If you spend a lot of time on YouTube or watch a lot of Twitch streams, the diagram shows a lot of "entertainment". TikTok, Twitter, Insta and Co. are displayed with "social networks". Look at what is robbing you of the most time and start reducing usage time there.

Screen time functions on iOS: Set up time out and app limits

If you are already in Settings -> Screen time, then take a look directly at the menu items "Time out" and "App Limits". The time-out is a self-definable period of time during which only certain apps and the telephone function can be used. App limits are maximum usage times for certain app categories (entertainment, games, social networks, shopping, etc.) or for individual apps (YouTube, Apple Arcade, Twitter, Amazon and so on).

The difficult thing about using time-out and app limits on the Apple iPhone is of course that you use them to regulate yourself. So you can extend or remove the limits at any time and deactivate the time-out in order to use all apps and services around the clock. But trying is better than studying and that's why you should just test these possibilities. Maybe they are exactly the help you needed to use the iPhone less.

Detailed instructions: Use screen time configurations on the iPhone

Pro tip: turn off notifications

In the Netflix documentary "The dilemma with social media“People who work or have worked for social networks such as Facebook or Twitter have their say. They not only give an insight into the efforts of the platforms to keep their users on the screen for as long as possible. They also give tips for less stress through their apps or for reduced use of them. A tip everyone mentioned: turn off the notifications!

Because if you don't get push notifications, the iPhone display doesn't light up all the time. And if you don't always see red dots on app symbols that show how many likes, favs, hearts, messages, comments and printouts you have received, you don't let yourself be distracted by it, if you actually only get it shortly after Want to watch the weather or turn on music. You can deactivate the push notifications in the respective in-app settings.

Use iPhone less: reshape / hide home screens

And it continues with the visibility of apps. If you remove this from your home screen or move it to a back seat, then you are not so often in the situation that you automatically tap it immediately after unlocking the iPhone. You can also completely rearrange the app icons on your home screen in the evening so that you don't automatically open time-consuming apps in the morning. 

Another redesign trick involves widgets. If you keep catching yourself getting distracted by time-consuming apps when you just want to check the weather report, then place a weather widget on your home screen. That's how it works:

  1. Tap and hold on the home screen until the icons wiggle
  2. Tap the plus symbol (+) at the top left
  3. Search for "Weather" in the widgets
  4. Add the widget to the weather forecast in the desired size
  5. Tap on "Done" at the top right

How you can hide home screens completely, for example to make the unnecessary and most time-consuming apps disappear during working hours in the home office, I'll explain that in another guide. You can find the instructions for iOS 14 here: Hide home screen (s) for more clarity / privacy.

Less input: grayscale and deactivated haptic feedback 

While app makers try to captivate you with their possible uses, interfaces and content for as long as possible, Apple also wants you to consider iPhone use as something worth striving for. The high-resolution display, for example, shows colors and contrasts very well. Consuming photos, images, videos, GIFs and app interfaces is fun. There is also “haptic feedback”, which uses mini-vibrations during various actions in apps to provide physical feedback.

These elements of iPhone use, which act on the nervous and reward system, are another factor in the problem of increased smartphone time wastage. So it can be helpful to turn them off. How you can only show gray tones instead of a colorful display, you will find out in this guide: iPhone Color Filters - Grayscale and color blindness settings. To turn off the haptic feedback, do the following:

  1. Opens the Settings-App on the iPhone
  2. Tap on the menu item Sounds & haptics
  3. Scrolls down and deactivates the System feel

Make calls instead of writing a lot in Messenger

If you exchange messenger or voice messages with your contacts throughout the day, then of course it costs time. You also run the risk of being constantly distracted by other apps because you have to constantly look at the iPhone display. So instead try to discuss everything that needs to be discussed in one phone call. Even if this takes a little longer, you will definitely save time compared to the usual procedure.

Usage plan: timetable for apps and services

If you want to spend less time on the smartphone, you can simply plan this completely. Only check emails twice a day, scroll through Twitter or Instagram only half an hour after dinner, only use one hour for videos on YouTube - these are restrictions that you can write down in a kind of timetable. 

Either you set an alarm clock or use a stopwatch while using certain applications. Or you can define an app limit in the screen time settings (see above). In addition, you can use other adjustments such as the grayscale or deactivation of the haptic feedback. That makes long-term use of some services less attractive.

Try everything at once or try different practices?

Now you have read through a lot of tips for reducing the usage time on the Apple iPhone. The question arises: should you use them all at once or try them out one after the other? Well, that's up to you. It also has a lot to do with your usage behavior. Do you like to lose yourself in many different apps or is only one app stealing your time? Does this happen again and again in small portions throughout the day or for several hours at a time? If you have answered these questions, individual tips can also be better applied. I wish you success!

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