How to Build a Mindful Phone

I’m getting a new phone, which means I get to start from scratch on what is on it and what is not. What are your recommendations on how to build a mindful phone: visually and content wise

Assuming you still want a smart phone, correct? My methods may not appeal to you, but here’s what’s working for me. I bought the smallest and least expensive iPhone I could find. I feel like Apple is a little more careful with our data than Google (not saying a lot) and I like their messaging much better because most of my family and friends are on it.

My phone is an iPhone SE, which you can still find out there new and unlocked around $200. I intentionally got the small screen, my feeling was, the less big/alluring the screen is, the less tempting it will be to consume on it. This has proven to be somewhat true.

I decided my phone would only be for communication and necessities, but not consumption.

For communication: Apple Messages (texting), Facetime, and regrettably, email (Apple Mail Client).

Essentials: Maps, Uber or Lyft, Camera.

I decided I was tired of Google having my footprint constantly so I decided not to install any Google apps on this phone. The only really pain point it Maps, because Apple maps is not so great. For safety I recommend getting Google or Waze. I set up my gmail through the apple Mail client, avoiding the need to install the Gmail App.

I’ve turned of notifications on all apps, and check them at my pace, rather than being beholden to them all the time. The exception is texting, for family. But I often work with the phone in night mode so I don’t hear notifications, just see them when I pick up the phone.

I highly recommend keeping your notification super limited. You will be amazed at how liberating this can be once you get used to it.

I honestly wish I could have left email off the list, and initially I did, but when traveling or a day of meetings this was impractical. Once I put it on, I found myself checking the phone in the morning like I used to, which was a shame. It’s great to wake up and not grab your phone. Just get up and enjoy your breakfast blissfully unaware of anything, what a luxury.

Using these methods, I would say I’m down to 25% of my former usage. The things I gave up to get there: Instagram (laptop occasionally), SnapChat, Ebay, Reverb, Netflix, Twitter (laptop), and Memrise(use on laptop)

I find it’s easy enough to get to the things above when I feel like it on my laptop. But they are no longer telling me when to use them. As much as possible, on all my devices, notifications are turned off.

One other things that helped me feel much less pressured is turning of the the red notification dot telling how many emails you have. Man I hate that thing with a passion.

My goal has been to reclaim my focus, and it has been a great help and largely a success. I still flit from thing to thing on my laptop, but increasingly I’m trying to give my complete focus to one task at a time. It’s much harder than you would think.

Let me know what you wind up doing, I hope whatever you choose will be beneficial for you. Good luck!


I did same homie! Got 16gb iphone6 for $100 and very happy. I have notifications on but no email app or logged in.

Have whatsapp for distant fam and spotify for tunes.

Apple maps and the iphone’s gps and internal giroscope all actually work!

I too am getting freaking out by google and I dont see apple as better but the change has been wonderful.

Siri off.
Location off.
Roaming on data and voice.
No reporting or heuristics.
Safari and Firefox Focus (doesn’t keep history or cookies persistently, once you swipe out its erased).
Mint to track spending and monitor for id theft and fraud.
Find iphone off.
Loving iphoto, I never used to auto backup on google drive or photos but this came default and is very intuitive as non mac person and been wonderful.

Don’t have VoLTE though but idk if that is the phone or if carrier wants more money for that.


I had an iphone se but it stopped being functional (wouldn’t ring/recive calls). Kinda wish i could have kept it, but :woman_shrugging:t5:. Thank you guys!


Ymmv but yes should have hung on to it, I never throw phones away until they have been Hillary approved data wiped (Drill bit front through back a few times then hammer).

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That is dope. Will keep that in mind.


That’s cool, I’m not the only one! Glad you are enjoying it too. I will add some of the things you did to my list. I don’t think I turned heurisitics off. Mine actually seems to have LTE. I’m going to be so bummed when you can’t get a small phone anymore from Apple.

The other thing I’ll say seems insignificant, but it’s not. The phone is so small and light that I don’t really feel the weight of it in my pocket, so I’m reminded less to think about it. When I had an S9 it was looming large. Also, when you strip all this stuff out, the battery life is pretty great. Good luck!

YOU CAN DO IT! :100:

I’ll be your spirit animal. You can call me for moral support literally whenever you want. Once you’re on the other side, you’ll never look back.

  1. Switch off all notifications except text messages and of course phone calls.
  2. Do not install Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram.
  3. Want an alternative message app install Telegram.

Enjoy a notification free world! :clap:


I don’t support telegram they are too centralized. Signal is e2e and privately owned. Guy who made whatsapp when he sold to facebook gave signal $95mil no string to operate independently as long as possible. Telegram keeps private keys = not secure.

Calendar, chrome, Google maps, google assistant and esteem are must for me.

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My advice would be:

  • Disable notifications from all social networks, if you use them. That way you are less influenced to act on impulse.
  • And to hide the logos of the apps inside folders, where you group similar apps. The folders are less appealing visually.
  • Also use the OS’s (wither iOS or Android) tools to program use time. So that most things are turned off during rest hours.
  • Use the flight mode often, whenever you want to focus on the person you’re with, on the activity you are doing, or just need to be quiet and have piece of mind.

A 100% mindful phone would be one we can leave at home, and only bring along when we know we will need it (but the little tweaks we can do are probably the second best things, so far, since most of us need it with us most of the time).

Get an android smartphone, disable all notifications and then only have the essential apps installed such as banking, messaging, maps, music and whatever you need for hobbies and socializing. Make sure to put the messaging app in the drawer and not in your home screen along with the browser so that you increase the threshold just a little bit to access the addictive stuff. Also install firefox and leecblock to ban certain websites.

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Reading this thread I imagined something like that, a customizable portable more humane and fun device.

People can write messages directly using the plastic pen, writing into the ink screen.
There’s a small touch screen, a minimum size to do all digital stuff (not for watching movies though…). Plus camera, a small printer, a light, etc. The name is inspired by Moleskin and molecular because is a composition of different things.

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Shameless plug here :slight_smile: Siempo created a humane tech interface for Android (we actually started as a hardware project)


pressed the heart button as hard as I can. Put this extension on firefox and first thing I notice and like is the addict inducing newtab page is replaced by intention tab. When you open a new tab instead of seeing echo chamber you see a reminder in plain text of what you were doing when you started computing, so you don’t feed into attention crisis.

Donation link please…crypto

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I donated and regret it after seeing gps go in, fail. :confused:

this is from one of my phones over 12 days of ignoring it and living my life. Only thing I missed was the music so maybe I will get an old school mp3 player and ditch the tracker.


My friend Joe created a device called The Light Phone which can only make calls, texts, and operate as an alarm. It also has wifi, bluetooth, and can act as a hot spot. As time goes on, more tools will be introduced, but that’s it for now.

I’ve recently started a blog documenting my switch from iPhone to Light Phone if you want to get a peek into what that transition looks like. In general, my phone usage has decreased quite a bit and my ability to focus and go without a phone for a long period of time has increased significantly.

Let me know if you have any questions!



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