Over the past few years I have looked at a number of ways to reduce my phone usage, or rather reduce my non-productive phone usage.

From cutting down the number of apps installed to simplifying the initial home screen, from going greyscale to using a third-party launcher (on Android) I've been there, done it and got the T-shirt. Overall, I've been pretty happy with the results.

It's not, however, just about reducing temptation - there are always ways round these things so it's also about will power and habit forming.

Switching to pen and paper, and sticking to it this time, has been the single most effective way to focus and avoid time wasted to random use, flicking between apps, looking for something to do. That, combined with reading actual physical paper books again, has been transformational.

Because I'm not on my phone to draft thoughts, ideas, and posts I tend to be more mindful of what I do when I switch back to it. I read through my RSS feeds in batches instead of repeatedly refreshing to see if there is anything new. I use the browser in chunks to catch up with news or do some research rather than just looking for something to entertain me.

I've had far more time to think, to absorb, to process, to create. I've not watched anything on Netflix or Prime Video since the New Year and haven't missed it or felt like I'm missing out.

Getting back to the technology aspect of all this, I remembered that EMUI (the Android skin used by Huawei) includes different modes for power management including one called "Ultra Power Saver" which drastically reduces what you can do on your device by only allowing you to pick six apps, yep only six, to go on your home screen and you can't access anything else until you exit this mode. 1

With the right selections and judicious use of blank icons I've created a very minimal setup and am considering using it at various times to gauge its impact on my productivity and creativity.

I can always leave this mode with one tap but it will be interesting to see how often I actually need to beyond communicating with family.


  1. I can slightly get round this limitation by sharing from Pure Writer to the WordPress app effectively letting me use seven. 

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