How Can You Be Less Distracted by Your Phone?

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What’s the one best thing you can do to be less distracted by your phone?

This is an easy one: turn off all alerts.

It’s been about a year since I turned off all the alerts on my phone save two: my morning alarm and texts from immediate family. No more blinking lights or ringtones or vibrations to celebrate every breath of the internet. My home screen has only my five most-used application icons, and none of them show the number of unread or unlooked-at items.

It’d be an overstatement to say it has changed my life, but it certainly has changed the focus of my life.

No longer is that little blue light blinking its way into my attention. I’m not the guy at the end of the conference room table hoping that no one notices the strange but familiar sound of a vibrating phone. I don’t regularly know how many scintillating Facebook notifications have presented themselves. My phone has its rightful place as a tool to be used when I want to use it and not when it wants to use me.

Yes, I have missed some last-minute opportunities to meet someone unexpectedly, and I’m not always the first to hear about late-breaking news. But gone is the forever feeling that if I don’t pick the thing up immediately, I’m going to miss out on something big.

To work, this strategy involves making sure people know how best to reach you. My colleagues know email is best. Friends and family usually text, but they call if it’s an emergency.

About the Author

Dean Heetderks is co-director of Ministry Support Services of the CRC and art director of The Banner. Wondering about any part of the digital side of your life? Tell him about it at