Get Your Smartphone Under Control. Here are Four (4) Simple Steps for Customizing it

Get Your Smartphone Under Control. Here are Four (4) Simple Steps for Customizing it

How often have you realized that your smartphone just disturbs you while you are working on something important? It happened to me a lot in the past.

This stopped since I have customized my own smartphone, and I have even two smartphones: an Apple iPhone 7plus and a Samsung S10+. One is for my German phone number and one is for my Singapore phone number. And, no, I do not want one single phone with two SIM cards. That is why I can write tips for both types of phones.

In an earlier post I have shown you how to turn off Windows notifications on your computer.

And in the following comes a manual on how you can similarly customize your smartphone such that it does not disturb you anymore.


Step #1: Turn off Notifications, especially the Sound Notifications

Turn off all push notifications from the apps – especially for Social Media!

A tutorial on how to turn off all push notifications for iPhone is here

And a video tutorial on how to do this for Android is here


Step #2: switch off the voice mail function

Old style phone calls are time killers.

Phone calls are very time consuming because often one needs to call three or four times until the communication partner picks up the phone. Leaving a message on his voice mail is not a good solution either because this will result in a returned phone call that probably ends up on your voice mailbox.

And here is one fundamental truth: reading is much faster than talking and listening.

This is why I prefer written messages over phone calls, and this is why I also seldom attend phone calls.

There is even a side effect: fewer attended phone calls means fewer phone calls in the future. And the same applies in the other direction: fewer calling others means fewer phone calls in the future.

That means also that – unless you like talking on the phone very much – you better switch off the voice mail function. Switching off the voice mail function will prevent you from being forced to call back.

Switching off the voicemail is usually done by calling your voicemail number with your handphone and by entering a pre-determined number code that you find in the Internet. Just Google for

“<phone provider> <country> switch off voicemail”

and you will find more detailed instructions on how to do that.

After doing so – whenever you see a missed call on your phone – a much nicer way to attend to this missed phone call is to write back a message to that phone number. For each missed call, your smartphone shows a notification on your phone app symbol. You can open your phone app and select for each missed call whether you write back a simple message or even an email if you have stored the email address for that contact on your smartphone.


Step #3: Clean up your home screen

The home screen is like a desk. Clean is better. Less distraction.

Move almost all the apps from the home screen to the 2nd and 3rd screens. And move the ones you don’t use much into folders.

A tutorial Tutorial on moving apps around on an iPhone is here

And a video tutorial on how to do this for Android is here


Step #4: prevent all unimportant and all unknown callers from ringing

Only certain people should be able to interrupt you at will.

You can achieve that in two ways.

This is my to avoid interruptions: I give my smartphone to my assistant and I tell her to answer all incoming calls. But that was pre-Covid19. Today, I put my smartphone into another room of our house so that I do not hear it ringing.

Or – alternatively – you take the more complicated route and assign different ring tones to your various contacts, and put some only on vibrating. And all unknown callers are switched to silent. I don`t give you a tutorial for this because I already know that you will not go so far. This is simply too much work.

Whenever I am in a meeting and my phone rings then I don´t pick up the phone but I press a button without looking at its screen and it goes immediately silent. Followed by my apology for that. This signals to my other meeting partners that they are currently more important than anything else. And if my phone really rings four times in a row then I have a good reason to check who is so desperately trying to reach me.


Call to Action

There is no question that smartphones are an amazing piece of technology that gives you tremendous ability to customize how the information is delivered to you.

The key is that you customize it yourself, and that you do not let others rule over you by using your smartphone for intruding into your life when they want it.

The follwing two steps will bring you immediate relief:

Step #1: turn off notifications, especially the sound notifications

Step #2: switch off the voice mail function

If you have not yet done so, then do it now. Activating just the two steps #1 and #2 above will reduce your daily distractions by 80%. Follow the tutorials that are referenced above.

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