Some time last year, I posted a link to an article that talked about having a decluttered iPhone (I can’t find the link now. I’ll share it on Facebook when I do). I fell in love with that idea and when I got my new phone a few months ago, I decided to take the challenge. I realized that my phone was starting to take over my life
While my phone isn’t as clutter free as it could be, it’s way better than it was. With the exception of Instagram and Goodreads, I removed all social media apps. Then I removed all news outlet apps (CNN, Huffington Post, etc), deactivated all push notifications, and set the do not disturb time frame. Next, I decided not to install any games except for a couple for my daughter. YouTube made the cut but that’s also more for my daughter’s sake than mine. I left Spotify because I’m borderline obsessed with it and I listen to music constantly, and a few other apps like MLB and my library and bank. Stuff I genuinely need and use.
Once I decided to declutter my phone, I also decided I would start using it for good instead of evil. So, when picking which other apps to add or keep, I felt that they needed to have a productive purpose. As in, stuff I can use to make me better instead of worse. To that end, here’s how I’m using my iPhone as a weapon for self-improvement instead of self-destruction:
Duolingo. If you want to learn a new language, Duolingo is the perfect place to start. I first heard about this app from my daughter’s Spanish teacher, which worked out well because I’d long been wanting to brush up on my French and I can do this for free, on my own time. You can choose from about 8 languages, how much you want to practice each day, it grades you instantly, the app tracks your progress, and even if you have zero knowledge of a language, you can use it. It has a game-type feel that makes it fun to learn and keep you interested.
Podcasts. Podcasts are sneaky little learning tools. My husband has long been a fan of them but they never did it for me. Then Serial happened and now I’m a fan. Rather than simply listening to entertainment-based ones, I’ve been trying to learn by downloading business-type podcasts from Michael Hyatt and Jeff Goins, Book Riot’s podcast, and also Criminal, which is short, investigative reporting episodes, all related to crimes, old and relatively new. The criminal justice nerd in me rejoiced upon discovering this one. Not into criminal justice? I’ve seen one for self-improvement, science, money management and personal finance, religion, and dozens of others.
Exercising. Use your phone and create a gym in your pocket! (I’ve also written before how you can use your smartphone to achieve your fitness goals if you want more information on that). As someone who doesn’t love exercising, I’ve had to find ways to keep it interesting. After a 4 month lapse, I’ve started workingout again using my T25 videos but as an alternative, I downloaded a yoga app and a workouts app (literally. That’s what it’s called. Workouts. And Yoga). There’s a free and paid version for each. I recommend the paid version because you get more options and longer workouts. I use this in conjunction with my Couch 2 5K app (that’s more of a springtime app since my basement isn’t finished and it’s fucking cold down there) and with this combination, I barely miss my gym membership.
Gratitude journal. Lots of people recommend keeping one of these so I thought I’d give it a try since it seems like a simple enough effort to improve my mental health. After looking through lots and lots of apps, and not really wanting to pay for one, I settled on one called Grid Diary. What I like about it is that you can set up as many questions or prompts as you want, either by choosing from a library of questions or making up your own. It automatically reminds you at a set time every day to write in the journal so there’s no excuse not to. It’s a quick and easy, something you can do during a commercial. I think I might upgrade to a paid app at some point but for now, this one is just fine.
I’m also starting to use iBooks a bit more, particularly while I’m waiting on the school pick up line or for an appointment, and I have a few store cards loaded onto my phone. I have the Disney app on my phone that my sister and I are using to coordinate our vacation to Disney World this spring so we can be clandestine and surprise the kids. And finally, I’ve taught my mom, sister, and mother-in-law how to use the photo sharing option so we can trade pictures without sending 2340832 texts.
I’m sure, if I wanted, I could pare down my phone even more but for now, I’m okay with the way it looks. And I can tell you that by removing many of the negative influences from my phone, it’s not only improved my state of mind but it keeps me more present and focused when I’m out and about.
Which is really the most important thing.
How are you using your phone for self-improvement? What should I add to my arsenal?