I was pondering this during much of December 2015 observing people (myself included) at what are supposed to be relaxed gatherings spending quality time with those they love / like, yet every now and then they are on their smartphones either checking messages or snapping videos / photos instead of being "in the moment".

Observing this and looking at the popular apps, I couldn't help but notice how few of these apps were really "essential" (despite being labelled essential in various App stores) to day to day living.

Would something tragic happen if I didn't read an e-mail on my smartphone as soon as I received it?

Do I really need to respond to that instant messaging message immediately, is it that urgent?

Even phone calls, do you have to answer every phone call irrespective what you're busy with, is it a matter of life and death?

Can that tweet or Facebook update wait?

Asking these and many more questions has led me to believe that we (most of us) have let the technology dictate to us what to do instead of it enhancing our lives.

As such, I'm went on an experiment (which has now become part of my life), a tweak of the low information diet as suggested by Tim Ferris in the Four Hour Work Week to see if whether my life will improve or suffer as a result of not necessarily using less technology but rather looking at how it can improve my life, how it can serve me and not make a slave of me.

After all, African culture is mostly about Ubuntu and people centric.

So, below are the 6 steps I think you should start doing to be more productive and rid yourself of smartphone addiction (it's a <a href"https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201307/smartphone-addiction" target="_blank">psychological condition, apparently).

1. Monitor Your Smartphone & Data Usage

One of the quickest ways (if you pay for your own cellphone usage) is to monitor your voice and data usage on your smartphone.


This is one of the quickest ways to wean you off your smartphone and apps addiction. The logic being that once you are aware which of your apps are eating the most of your data allocation then the likely you'll find ways of using them less.

Most smartphones (Android & iOS) come with built-in data monitoring but there's a plethora of apps on App stores that can help you monitor and manage your smartphone data usage.

2. Plan Your Time

More often than not, one checks social media and other seemingly frivolous apps during a time when you have nothing planned.


When you're bored and have nothing planned, social media, news and e-mails are a "rabbit hole" that can keep you engaged for hours on end eventually evenn likely making you miss doing important tasks.

To avoid this, plan your time and stick to the plan.

3. Turn Off App Notifications

App notifications are habit forming. Every time your phone beeps or the light flickers you immediately pick it up irrespective of the app the notification is coming from. As such, one of the best things you can do is to switch off app notifications for non-essential apps.


Do smartphones serve us or are we slaves to them? Tweet

At first, like any addiction, there'll be withdrawal symptoms. You will find yourself checking your apps periodically despite there being no notifications thanks to the habit forming nature of app notifications. You just have to be disciplined and wean yourself off that and only check apps during times you have scheduled for social media or any specific apps.

4. Avoid Reading E-mails In The Mornings

E-mail, like instant messaging apps and social media is like a rabbit hole. You first send an e-mail, then a conversation ensues which likely distracts your focus from real work.


E-mail will literally punch you in the face. Everyone is URGENT, everyone wants a response NOW but truth is you won't get any real work done if all you're doing is writing and responding to e-mails. So, park E-mail to a later time in the day and use the time when you are energized and optimally focused do to real work.

5. Go Offline Periodically

The frequency of when you go offline is not important, the important part is to pick a regular time and go offline, completely.


Apart from helping with app and smartphone addiction, going offline periodically after a while helps with anxiety related to not being on your smartphone. Soon enough you realize the world didn't end because you weren't on social media.

6. Minimize News

There is always news. News never end. Worse, once you read something it likely influences your mood and you're likely going to share it which in turn starts a conversation which takes up time which you never planned to waste ;-).


You CAN live without news. Or if you can't, minimize your consumption of news. Pick one or two sources and only check them at dedicated times.

Cover Image, Chewing Gum & Texting | Tumblr

Share this via: