Tools to help using smartphone less?

I use my phone and especially IM apps and read email what feels too much for me and as I imagine it will be a familiar problem here, I wonder what kind of solutions do you have if you consider it as a problem?

I mainly have two, but I am not sure if they are enough or if there are better options:

These are instructions for enabling monochrome display from developer settings. iOS

Siempo is supposedly going to be open source, but I haven’t heard anything about it since removing my Discord account. It has a nice feature of notifying about overuse of flagged apps and drawing a cover above them making the phone unpleasant to use and forcing taking a break of one minute. There would also be an option to hide notifications and show them in batches, but that is incompatible with Android Go.

I don’t think these are enough or the best possible tools for me. I think there would be better launchers for this like Slim Launcher (which I would cheat by using KISS anyway though), but Siempo insists being the main launcher for the cover feature to work.

I am missing also something to know the total times of app usages and maybe times when I do that in case there would be a pattern I could learn to break more easily. Everything seems to phone information home and my Nokia 1 is yet to receive Android 9 and I don’t know if Android 9 Go even includes the digital wellbeing app (or how much it would report my activity to Google).


Turn your phone off. Turn it on once a day to read and answer your messages.

This will have the added advantage of increasing the life of your battery.

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Well, it’s a tough question and pretty much valid.
I cannot really recommend any app, however some internet access limiting thing comes to my mind, what for example parents can use to limit the time their kids burn on the internet.
From my experience, since I deleted the mainstream social media apps and try to focus on my privacy, the time I’m hanging on my phone drastically reduced.
You can also try make things less convenient, like ( just a sudden idea) deleting map apps and rely on openstreetmaps in the browser only. Such things would make me think twice, if I want to invest the time and effort to pick the phone for anything. There’s another benefit of this, namely using our brains again, like ‘before smartphone times’. I remember driving around for weeks on holyday, using solely paper maps and before starting to drive each morning memorizing a whole day’s route. It was just great to know all the time, where I actually am. I’m still doing the same if I’m using GPS. Because I feel lost, if I don’t have a picture in my mind, where I am on the map and GPS alone doesn’t give me this picture.
Actually, since I’m not using all the gaggle trash, my brain feels like being more fresh and under training again.
To come from another point of view, since I’m learning so much from you guys ( thank you all!!!), how often our privacy is violated on our devices, I’m using the phone less and less. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I never imagined that “going gray” would help stop my smartphone addiction. It must have something to do with the amount of light, then?

I think it’s the notifications that tend to distract me the most, especially if it’s from an app that I use frequently.

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I have some problems with that as I am feeling a bit lonely and I am in long distance relationship, so I cannot pick that option. There may also be reasons why someone would need to contact me by phone, however I do it at nights. Only to have the problem start again tomorrow.

I have tried that too, but the problem tends to be instant messengers and I cannot start removing anything else than Riot without negatively impairing my chances of actually being social, I have some offline friends in Signal and I connect Conversations through a transport to IRC channels that are somehow related to this city and where I might meet people. I don’t think I read them so much though.

The only way I could think of was Slim Launcher, but it doesn’t seem to be enough for me.

Did you try it?

I hear it explained by apps and especially notifications using bright colours that urge your attention, but that fails if everything is monochrome.

Same, and this reminds me that I have disabled notification sounds everywhere except Wire where I receive sound when someone clicks the ping button which is luckily very rare.

It doesn’t for me, because I’m more interested in the content of my apps than just the flashy colors apparently :laughing:

But I leave it enabled because I like the aesthetic of a monochrome (OLED) device.

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Blockquote Did you try it?

I tried to download Digital Wellbeing for Android, but it said it was “incompatible with my device.” Time to upgrade my phone? It’s a few years old. :rofl: Unless there’s a similar alternative.

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If you mean the app by Google, it’s only compatible with Google Pixel, but if you install the APK from somewhere else and see e.g. How to Get Digital Wellbeing on any Android P Device you can get it running.

I got Android 9 Go edition today morning and found that app as an disappointment. There are other free apps that do the same thing.

I already mentioned Siempo, but after that disappointment I added these apps:

This adds nice counters to all apps.

This just shows how much apps have been used in it (which was what Digital Wellbeing also did), some features that Digital Wellbeing wanted like notification access are naturally removed from Android Go.

PS. I am still interested in FOSS privacy friendly tools for this.

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