My Silent iPhone – 6 Ways to Get Control of Your Gadget

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In 2011, I tried an experiment. I attempted to keep my phone on silent.

And it has been quiet since.

Let me back up. I updated to the iPhone in 2008, and from then on, I was bombarded by all sorts of alerts. Email, texts, phones calls, missed calls, voicemails, to-dos, Twitter, Facebook (now Instagram) and any other app that was able to interrupt me with something (nearly all of them want to) wanted my attention. The iPhone literally turned every form of communication into something totally intrusive.

It was wearing me out. I would be in a meeting and my phone would vibrate from an incoming @reply on Twitter. I would be in the car and a text message would take my attention away from driving. I would be watching a movie with my wife and my phone would beep from an email in the other room. My entire life was constantly interrupted. (See!  You are probably already distracted by looking below at all of those notification buttons!)  My iPhone was ruling my life.


Here are 6 things I recommend to get control of your gadget:

1. Develop a new philosophy: “I check my iPhone. It doesn’t check me.”
Everything you read will be run through this principle. I have realized that as life speeds up, it becomes easier to listen to the loudest voice. If you aren’t careful, before you know it, your life is being run by your gadget instead of you.  You are in charge of your gadget, not the other way around.  It is a tool for you to use.

2. Turn off EVERY possible push notification that you can live without.
This not only saved immense battery life, but it will also cut out significant interruptions. When you want to know what an app has for you, then check it. For me, this is mostly Instagram, Email, Facebook and Twitter. It’s that simple. The last thing you need is for any social networking site to be constantly dinging every time someone @replies or messages you.

3. Put email in its place.
Email could dominate your day and week.  There are plenty of people all needing something and companies constantly wanting to sell you something.  Have a couple focused times a day with email on your computer (or phone if you have to) rather than letting them trickle in ALL day and ALL night. Email is not a phone call. Email is not a text. Email needs to be in the proper place or you will constantly deal with it.

4. Put your phone on silent – Always.
I know you think I am crazy.  I thought I would miss a ton of calls when I did this. But then I discovered that because the iPhone is so bright when it rings, if I am in a place of being able to answer, I am usually able to. And when I don’t see it, it usually means I am unable to answer anyways. Here is what you do.  Keep your phone out and visible when you can or need to answer. When you don’t want to answer or if you are not able, turn it upside down or keep it in your pocket. (meetings, in the car, working on a project, etc.) Another bonus is that you don’t forget to turn it on silent for meetings, projects or hanging with your family or friends. Fewer interruptions in these spots should be essential.  Obviously I don’t use this in the mornings for the alarm (although that would be nice).

5. Yes.  Even turn off vibrate mode.
Yes, it’s true. I can still hear the vibrator on the phone in a meeting, while I’m focused on a project, or spending time with my family. Get rid of this interruption. Side note, my leg ‘ghost vibrated’ for about 2 months after I changed this. No lie. My leg had become so accustomed to being vibrated by my iPhone that it kept doing it on its own long after. This was a huge confirmation to keep that setting off.

6. Have a gadget sabbatical.
Take some time away from your device.  Turn off the phone and tablet.  Take a break for a day.  It will be hard at first but you will find great joys in spending time with your family or friends.  You might actually find yourself thinking and reflecting more.  You might be less distracted and more fully engaged with your own life.  I want to make this a regular practice in my life.  If you can, try it this Saturday and let me know how it goes!

There are times when our devices should be on. For me, with having a family, a job and other things in my life, there are certain times of the day or year when I need to be interrupted. So during those times, I turn my ringer on or the vibrate on if in a meeting. It’s that simple. When those times come, I know that I need to be interrupted, and that is perfectly ok. This difference here is that I am in control.  I tell my phone when to be on and off.

These changes have brought freedom for me. Now I control my iPhone, and it does not control me. I don’t miss any more calls than I would normally. I am able to be more effective with each social item (Instagram, Facebook, Email, Twitter, phone calls and texts) because I can check these and focus in on them when I am ready or need to. I am also able to focus on the things in my life without being interrupted.

Do you need to turn your phone on silent? Have you found any other ways to put your gadget in it’s place?

Tips to Save Battery Life on iOS7

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If you had been following me on twitter, then you know about my love/hate relationship with iOS7. While I think there are some issues with it, overall I think it is awesome! Apple has has brought some great changes and features to the iPhone with iOS7. However, I noticed shortly after updating my iPhone and iPad Mini that my battery life was draining fast.

These are some tips I found to keep the battery from draining as quickly. But if you continue to refresh Instagram every 10 seconds, these tips won’t do you any good!  Most of these I found from “The Unofficial Apple Weblog“, but I thought I would add a little extra to help you see how to change these settings.


Turn off ‘Background App Refresh’

Unless you really want your apps to refresh themselves when you are not using them, this is an easy fix.  The time it takes for apps to re-open or re-fresh when you need them is better than a drained battery.


How to: Settings / General / Background App Refresh


Turn off ‘Location Services’

You might want some apps to know your locations (maps, shopping, etc) but you can actually minimize the number of apps wanting to know your location all the time. This also helps reduce the creep factor if you are worried about that.


How to: Settings / Privacy / Location Services


Turn off ‘Bluetooth and Wifi’

“Turn off wifi?!” … Yes. There are times when you know you don’t need it. So why waste battery life on your iPhone by it constantly searching for wifi. And with the new control center so easy to access, this is a no brainer. This also applies to turning off Bluetooth. Just turn it off until you need it.


How to: Swipe Up / Press the ‘Wifi’ and ‘Bluetooth’ Symbols


Turn off ‘Reduce Motion’

This is a total iOS7 secret in my opinion. When you first updated your iPhone or iPad, you probably noticed how the apps shift perspective and move around depending on how you hold and look at your screen. Try it out. You might not have noticed. I thought it was super cool until I learned that this tiny feature was draining my battery.  I recommend turning it off, unless you simply cannot part with this cool extra.


How to: Settings / General / Accessibility / Reduce Motion


Close Out Apps

Every once in awhile it is good to close out all those apps that you have been using throughout your day.  Or month.  All you have to do is double tap your home button and every app that you have opened will show its screen view.  You can swipe up on any of them to “close” them out.


How to:  Double press the home button / swipe up on any screen shot


Brightness Levels

Keep watch over your automatic brightness levels. You can also manually override it by swiping up to get into the control center.  You can lower your brightness when you don’t need it bright and it will help save battery life.

Ultra Special Tip: If you turn the brightness all the way down before you go to sleep at night, it won’t blast your eyes when you look at it first thing in the morning!


Have you found any other ways to save battery other than turning your device off?