7 Ways to Not Be a Slave to your Phone

WP Greet Box icon
Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.

You know you’ve got a problem with your smart phone when you check it during

  • church services you’re leading
  • your child’s recital
  • your morning commute
  • the middle of a counseling conversation
  • a meeting you’re leading
  • a bike ride with 4 other guys riding with you

image via unsafepictures.com

When I hear the “ding” on my phone,  I’m like Pavlov’s dog. I can’t not check it. It’s just not possible. Something inside of me goes off. If I can’t immediately check my phone when the ding happens, I start getting the cold sweats. My right eye starts to twitch uncontrollably, and my left big toe squirms.

I’ve talked with guys who just put their smart phone on the bedside table when they get home from work and don’t touch it until the next morning. But I can’t do that. Pastoral emergencies happen.

I was just tired of my smart phone controlling my life. I had a problem. So I decided to take action.

7 Ways to Not Be a Slave to your Phone

1. Turn off auto push for email.

Don’t have emails automatically come to your phone and alert you when they arrive. This is the #1, easiest way to make your phone work for you, instead of you working for your phone. See, when you do it this way, you get to check your email when you want…rather than hearing that “ding” when you’re in the middle of playing with your 3 year old.

2. Turn off push notification for all twitter and Facebook.

If you have someone’s updates ding your phone every time they post, you’re asking for trouble. And you’re asking to:

  1. Hate social media. “Gosh…don’t they know I’m eating dinner?”
  2. Hate the fact that ____ posts all of the time. “Why are they posting NOW? Shouldn’t they be working?”

3. Take pictures, but post later.

I love being able to capture moments and not fumble around looking for my camera only to realize it needs fresh batteries and I haven’t changed the SD card out since 2007. Taking a picture with my phone takes little to no time at all. HOWEVER, posting said picture to Instagram takes a bit more time. Tweaking the filter thinking of a witty text to go along with it completely removes me from the moment I’m trying to capture. So take as many pictures as you want…but post them later. Nobody cares if that cute picture of your baby in her infant tankini isn’t posted in real-time.

4. Use “Things.”

Or Wunderlist. Or some sort of note taking tool. Jot down to-dos so that you don’t forget them later. Oftentimes, my job depends on me remembering what small group leader I need to touch base with, what friend I need to pray for, or what task I still need to finish up before our next training event. But I don’t fully follow through with these things in the moment. It takes very little time or effort to open my to-do list manager, type in the task, and “save” it to the cloud. When I get back in front of my computer, voila…I’ve got my full list.

5. Yell mean things at your phone and tell it you’re boss.

If it doesn’t listen, yell louder. That’s what we pastors do when we’re preaching, right?

6. Use Evernote.

Jot down ideas here, but don’t flesh them out on the go. Similar to “Things” (above), I have lots of new, fresh ideas. Some for small groups, some for our church at large, and some for various writing projects I’m tackling. If those ideas don’t get jotted down, they’re gone. I’ll forget them. So I jot them down, and leave them until I have time later to go back and tweak/flesh them out. I rarely, if ever, flesh ideas out in the moment.

7. “No phones at the dinner table” rule.

We’ve just recently imposed this rule at our family dinner table. Phones are off-limit while we’re sitting down for dinner. I do get the shakes sometimes when I get a text message, but those shakes are easily disguised by popping another bite of chicken in my mouth. This rule will help your family feel valued, and help ensure you’re not a slave to your smart phone.

I was tired of being a slave to my smart phone. I’m guessing you are, too. Or if you aren’t…I bet your friends are tired of you being absent from the moment.


Are you a slave to your smart phone?



Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://undistractedchristian.com/ Tyler Hess

    mo smart phones, mo problems.

    i have a dumb phone, so no worries.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      I’m glad I’ve got a smart phone…but some days I wish I didn’t. :)

  • http://www.jasonvana.com Jason Vana

    I used to be, but I’ve gotten better. I try to be intentional about not checking it when I’m spending time with others, and I turned off all push notifications a long time ago. It not only helps me be in the moment, but it keeps me from wasting time constantly checking my phone for every email, tweet, facebook comment, etc.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      I’m with you, Jason. Those things can be huge time sucks.

  • http://twitter.com/JordanEnglishKC Jordan English

    #3 Stands out to me. I have always made pleaded my case to others that I can Instagram a picture and still be present. In fact, I would argue I would be MORE present because of it, simply not true. I love the idea to post later. It’s a good balance and solution.  

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Glad to hear that’s helpful!

  • Pingback: Worth a Look 7.24.12 – Trevin Wax()

  • Jamie Mosley

    Good to see you last Tuesday at Lifeway. 

    Appreciate the post. Making some changes to my iPhone settings now. 

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Great to see you too, Jamie…we’ll have to get together again soon!

      • fairy

        Lets see mm?

  • http://www.brandonclements.com Brandon Clements

    Oh my. This is convicting. 

    Thanks for speaking some harsh truth Ben. I need a lot of growth in this area.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      I wrote this because I needed the words myself a while back. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still need them at times. :)

  • Pingback: Bits & Pieces (7/25/12) | Better Things Ahead()

  • Pingback: Links I Like | ChrisMacLeavy.com()

  • http://www.fbcgallatin.org/Larry/ Larry Yarborough, Jr.

    We need this & I’ve discovered the truth to, “you’ve got to know your limitations.” So I 1) leave it in the car for hospital visits & funeral services, 2) turn it all the way off during study, 3) never let it near a worship event & 4) silence it at home.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      That’s some strong wisdom, Larry. I love it.