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Take Control Back Over Your Smartphone

Take Control Back Over Your Smartphone

People give lots of control to the devices around them, have you noticed that as well? Of course, there is the computer, your TV, perhaps a car. All of these have a lot of control over you and they can definitely change your mood. Still, there is one device that has probably more control over you than all of these things together. Yes, you guessed it correctly: your mobile or smartphone.

Is your smartphone in control?

Can you remember the time when you didn’t have a smartphone or even a mobile phone? How was that? Did you feel less stressed? Were you able to live a normal life? Could people reach you?

Studies show that many people go to bed and the bathroom with their mobile phone. My personal opinion is that when your house burns down, you’ll probably save your mobile phone over your cat. And you don’t even have a backup of your cat!

Have you seen the people who are walking with their children? Or the people who are on a family trip? How about those groups having a nice dinner together?

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What do many of them do?

That’s right, they check their email, social media status, the news, play games and all kinds of other stuff that is (of course) very important at the time. But when they look back, they’ll realize it is not really that important. Let’s be honest with each other. Most of the emails you receive are not really so valuable that they need your immediate attention. The news is kind of the same as weeks or months ago. Social media is nice, but who really has 2,000 close friends who tweet quotes and share pictures?

I am not against all of that. Still, a little bit of self control and valuing your time is in order.

How to take back control.

My point is, many people (you as well?) give a whole lot of power to a smart device. Perhaps the device makers and app makers are the really smart people. They get you hooked on using that little machine all day long and taking it everywhere you go. While you’re doing that, you miss out on so many beautiful things that are actually happening in the real world.

Have you ever thought about going for a day without using or longing for your mobile phone? I think many people can feel like they are going cold turkey when their smartphone crashes.

The moment you take control back, you will become much more productive. I am not saying you shouldn’t use your phone anymore (by the way, based on what we are really using it for, should we still call it a phone?) What I suggest is that you create a ‘relationship’ with your device in which you are the one in control. Create a situation where you use the tools, instead of you getting used by these tools.

Here are a couple of things you could — or perhaps should — do, starting right now.

Email:

Please, don’t do this on the device unless it is really important. If it isn’t, respond later on your computer. This will make your productivity go up as well because you will type faster on a computer than on a phone.

Also, make sure you don’t check email all the time or keep the online connection open all the time! I mean it, start right now by going offline! Check your email only twice a day when you really have to. This goes for both mobile and normal laptop email reading. You will be able to respond to more messages in less time by batching the email tasks.

Social Stuff:

Spend a lot less time on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s face it you don’t need to know what all the people on your list are doing, all the time. And become much more selective about what you share. Stop sending quotes of famous people — share your own experience and knowledge. Stop telling people you are having dinner or you are in the bathroom. Really? You need to share that stuff with thousands of people? I believe you are worth far more than that.

Voice (E)mails:

Don’t write anymore. Start dictating and send out voice messages, they take a lot less time to record. Then send them to people who really need to know the information, and keep them brief (less than 15 seconds would be great!).

Timers:

Use apps for timers on your phone. This is something that will help you become more productive. Also, it will help you use the device that may have cost you hundreds of euros or dollars for something useful.

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News Feeds:

Stop reading news sites and getting distracted by things you don’t need. Create your own news channels and read them. There are services you can use for this and they create a news stream that is just for you with the news you need or want. Focus on what is important, not on what is published.

Camera:

Use the phone camera to record settings or situations that give you a good feeling or motivate you. Capture notes or white board overviews and be done with it. And no, you don’t need to share that then with your Twitter friends!

When you do this, your phone becomes a productivity tool again. I believe my phone is made for that. I don’t want you to suffer from having a tool that drains your energy and robs you of being creative and productive.

Make your phone a real smartphone — except this time you are smarter because you know how to take control back.

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Enjoy!

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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