How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Dumbphone

How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Dumbphone

Are you feeling it too?

Are you bothered by how attached and drawn you are to your phone? Are you starting to realize how much of your life you waste watching what other people are doing and thinking about what to post for other people to see? Has mindlessly scrolling the internet become your go-to distraction in stressful times?

Is your focus disappearing? Are you feeling the call to downsize, minimize, and use technology in a small, intentional way to save your mental health and be able to focus long enough to do work that matters?

Me too.

Here’s what I know: willpower doesn’t work. At least not with smartphones and social media apps that are very intelligently designed to not have you put your phone down.

So what’s the solution?

Getting on your kryptonite app of choice cannot be an option. Using apps on your phone in the morning or night cannot be an option.

The good news is, you don’t have to delete all apps and never use them again. You just need to have boundaries around them that you cannot cross (not ones you decide but then never follow).

I’ll tell you how I do it.


Have you heard of them? Companies like the new Nokia, Light Phone, and others are creating phones that you can only call or text on. No internet. Intentionally. And people are buying them, fast.

Turns out, scrolling social media and mindlessly surfing the internet is a socially acceptable yet disguised way of numbing emotions. It gives you that hit of dopamine while simultaneously distracting you from what’s really going on inside.

You guys, when I am stressed, I turn to look at any app I can to make myself feel better. Even if it’s redfin, email, or my Oura ring data. It’s ridiculous and I realized distraction truly is my drug.

When I first heard about these phones, I told my husband we are throwing away our smartphones and never looking back. Yes, I am dramatic like that. After further looking into them, I did run into some ‘problems’.

Disadvantages of Dumbphones

  • No maps: Some dumbphones are adding the map feature, but they aren’t great yet. As much as I would love to not be dependent on maps to get to places, the sad truth is, I am. #firstworldproblems
  • No camera: Again, some of them do have camera options, but again, they are not great. If I didn’t have a camera on my phone, I wouldn’t take pictures and then I wouldn’t have any memories of my children (there I go being dramatic again).
  • Group text: I am on a few key group texts with family and friends in which we share important information or updates. Unfortunately, you need a smartphone to be on these.
  • Social media: Obviously, the main point of a dumbphone is to not have social media. Which I love. But for work, I have to post certain updates and articles so I want to be able to get on social media when I need to and have it be unavailable the rest of the time.
  • Apps: there are some apps I would need that I couldn’t have on a dumbphone. Oura ring, period trackers, workouts, my planner, my calendar, notes, and audible are just a few key apps I find incredibly useful that I would miss dearly.

I wish there was a phone that I could choose what I want to use on it and make everything else unavailable. I wish a dumb-ish phone existed! Then I realized, one does. And it’s the phone I already have, with a few tweeks.

How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Dumb-ish Phone

Turning your smartphone into a dumb-ish phone means at certain hours of the day or when your limit is up on your apps, your phone turns into a dumbphone that can only call or text. No internet.

I am a dictator about my kid’s screen time, but one day I realized I am not so strict about my own. I mean I had boundaries. Sometimes I stuck to them, but a lot of times, I didn’t.

I ended up going on this long extensive search for ways to limit my screen time. I found a bunch of control apps and website blockers. I tested them all out (you can see my favorites here)

Then I discovered how to easily block what I didn’t want and keep what was helpful.

It has been life-changing (and I am not being dramatic this time).

You’re not just doing this because you think you should spend less time on your phone. There are legit benefits you will notice once your mind gets away from the constant stimulation:

  • more creativity and ability to see solutions to life problems
  • more motivation to do what needs to be done each day
  • your ability to focus will dramatically increase
  • you will feel less anxious and more content
  • your dopamine receptors will begin to replenish (after you have spent years likely frying them)

It’s up to you how dumb to make your phone. You could be hardcore and eliminate the internet and social media entirely, or you can allow those things but enforce strict limits you cannot cross even if you tried.

Here’s how.

Step by Step

Two main goals:

You want to intermittently fast from the internet EVERY DAY. Just like intermittent fasting makes your body healthy and rejuvenated, doing this will make your mind healthy and rejuvenated. You do this by having a cut-off time each night and a late start time each morning. During this time, your phone will be a dumb phone.

You want a limit on every one of your apps. Fasting will make it so you won’t be able to be on the internet at night or in the morning, but you also have to make it so you are not on it all. day. long.

Do this now:

  1. CLEAN SWEEP: go through all apps and delete as many as possible. You want minimal apps on your phone. Determine the ones you absolutely need and add value to you in some way, toss the rest. Bonus points for organizing them in folders.
  2. DETERMINE TWO THINGS: HOW MUCH time do you want a day on the apps you keep and WHEN you want your cut-off time at night to be and what start time you want them to be available.
  3. APP Blockers: Get an app blocker that can control all apps on your phone. I simply use the screen time app (parental blocking apps work great as well) Go to the screen time app on your phone. Set up app limits for every app on your phone. Example: 20 minutes on youtube, 15 min on Instagram,15 min on email etc.
  4. CHOSE A FASTING TIME: I believe you should fast from your phone for as long as you can every day – from night until as late in the morning as possible. After you set up app limits, set your DOWNTIME in which all apps (except call and text if you want) on your phone do not work. For example, my fasting time is from 8:30pm to 10am. No apps besides texting, maps, and calls are open. This makes it so I can’t be on my phone morning or night.
  5. MOST IMPORTANT PART: Now, you can easily override those limits you have just set UNLESS you set a password that you do not know. Have someone you are close to set the password so that when your time limit is up or you are in your no screen time, you can’t override it. My husband set the password so if I absolutely needed to get on an app., I could ask him to enter the password, but I literally cannot access the internet even if I tried during my down hours or if I have passed my limit.

Locking yourself out of apps at certain times may sound dumb, but if you are able to be on your phone whenever you want for however long you want, you will end up becoming addicted and dependent. I believe that setting limits for how long you can be on your phone and at what time you can be on it is the most important thing any human living in 2022 can do.

This isn’t fun. I’ll tell you that when I hit my limit on my favorite social apps, I always want more (that’s NORMAL, that’s how it was designed to be). There have been many nights when I wanted to mindlessly scroll the internet, but I couldn’t. And I’m glad. My creativity has skyrocketed and my anxiety is almost nonexistent anymore (which is saying something huge).

One Thing

If you just did ONE THING: I don’t care how you do it, but make it so you cannot open any apps in the morning or at night and replace looking at your phone during those times with something that brings you life.

We are still in the infancy stages of realizing what our phones are doing to our brains, soul, and behavior. I think we can all agree that craving and needing to look at it often is probably a problem.

Have you found any helpful tips to help you limit your phone time? Any apps or practices you can recommend? Let all of us know below!

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My biological dentist recommended this mouth rinse to me for the whole family. I usually hate mouth rinses because they buuurrnnn and kid mouth rinses are a sweet-tasting joke. This basically tastes like water but it’s a powerful disinfectant that also doesn’t harm your mouth’s ecosystem. It’s helped my daughter so much (because brushing her teeth well is harder than it should be).

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