Regaining Control of My Life: How I Make My Smartphone My Servant

Slave smartphone phone technology multitasking productivity
Slave smartphone phone technology multitasking productivity

Are you the Master or the slave of your smartphone? Before you dismiss this question too quickly take a few moments to watch this short video: I Forgot My Phone.

It is not the purpose of this article to make you feel guilty. The purpose is to help you become the master of your phone rather than its slave.

Like overcoming any addiction or enslavement, the first step is to admit that you have a problem. You have to admit that you are shackled to that beeping, buzzing, blinking omnipresent electronic device.

Do you have a problem? Let’s find out. Take an inventory of your “relationship” with your smartphone. * You might be a slave to your smartphone if:

* You check your phone in one or more of these situations:

  • During church services
  • During your child’s program
  • In a meeting
  • In your car
  • You permit your smartphone to interrupt time with your spouse and/or children
  • When you are in a conversation with others
  • When you are with your friends
  • During a meeting you’re leading or attending
  • Before you go to bed
  • Before you get out of bed
  • During your meals
  • When you are on the Loo (if so, please don’t lend your phone to others!)
  • All of the above
  • You feel stressed if you don’t have your phone with you
  • You have notifications constantly beeping and blinking at you and you cannot resist their siren call.
  • You experience phantom vibrations
  • You are constantly checking email, Twitter, Facebook, and other applications

If several of the above describe your relationship with your smartphone (or other mobile device) you may be more its slave than its master. Your phone is terrible task master. It constantly tells you what to do.

Your phone (and other devices) also keep you in what has been described as a state of “continuous partial attention,” a state of perpetual distraction. Such behavior is destructive to your peace of mind, to your relationships, and to your productivity (multitasking is a myth).

The sad truth is that too many of us have become willing slaves of the device that is intended make us more productive but which may be making us less so. Our phone has become a curse rather than a blessing.

Simple Tips for Breaking the Chains

The good news is that with a little discipline and a few tweaks in the settings of your smartphone, you can regain control of your focus, your peace of mind, your productivity, and your attentiveness to others. Remember, people are always more important than a thing or a task.

The first place to begin is to consider the ways in which your phone entices you with its siren call:

* Notifications on the home screen

* Beeps, dings, rings, buzzes, vibrations

* Badge icons with numeric notifications

* Always being with you

* Left on during the night

* Receiving calls and text messages while working or talking to someone

Create New Habits

Here is how you can bring your phone back into submission:

* Turn the phone off at night.

* Turn your phone off during meals and meetings.

* Keep your phone on vibrate mode most of the time, especially when you are with others.

* Don’t look at your phone until you are up, showered, dressed, and have had breakfast. Try it, you will not miss anything.

* When with others, put your phone on silent and put it deep into your pocket or purse.

* Only check your email at predetermined times each day. I have an “appointment” on my calendar to check my email twice a day. Although I’m not 100% consistent, the rest of the time I have my email application closed.

Tweak Those Settings

* Turn off most notifications for emails, social media, et cetera. The image below is for the email notifications on my iPhone but there are similar settings for Android and Windows phones. You can change the notification settings for all of the applications on your phone.

  • Don’t have notifications show up on the home screen
  • Turn off the badge icon notifications
  • Move the email application icon off of the home screen. You can check email anytime you choose but if that icon is front and center on your phone you will be drawn to it like a moth to a flame. The same goes for your social media application icons.
  • If your phone has this feature, turn on the “do not disturb” option for certain times during the day. I have mine set at a specified time in the early evening until I leave for work.

Below is a screenshot of my phone’s home screen. The icons on my home screen are those I use most often or that I need easy access to. Also notice the small crescent moon icon on the top right of the menu bar. That is the “do not disturb” icon. I am writing this post on a Sunday afternoon. I keep my phone on DND on Sundays so that the day is reserved for worship, rest, reading, and writing. The only exception I make is if I am monitoring weather for a potential delayed start or closing of school due to inclement weather. In this situation I maintain constant contact with my Executive Team.


The smartphone is a wonderful invention. It can save lives and make us more productive. It can also become our master. As Christians, we have only one Master. Although I’m taking this verse slightly out of context, I believe the principle applies—we are to bringing every thought (and device) under the Lordship of Christ in our lives. And, in doing so, we are to set an example of self-control and moderation in all things for our students, staff, and parents.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5