How to ‘Marie Kondo’ your smartphone

How to ‘Marie Kondo’ your smartphone

Alex Beattie, a PhD candidate in the School of English, Film, Theatre, and Media Studies, shares a few healthy tech habits which might just help you find the joy in missing out.

Have you been seduced by the Marie Kondo phenomenon? Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Marie Kondo is a decluttering guru who argues that having a neat home—be it a fridge, wardrobe, or room—is the key to happiness. With four best-selling books and a Netflix show to her name, Kondo has taken the world by storm.

Maybe we could learn a thing or two from Kondo and tidy our digital clutter. Having a smartphone littered with unanswered emails and notifications is distracting and stressful, particularly when you want to study.

Here are three ways to Marie Kondo your smartphone:

Turn-off notifications

Notifications are at the top of the list of distractions. To turn them off, visit Settings > Notifications and uncheck which ones distract you the most often.

Image credit: Centre for Humane Technology

To decide which ones to turn on or off, take a tip from non-for-profit group Center For Humane Technology. They suggest enabling notifications from actual people (such as Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp) while disabling the ones from machines (such as YouTube or Stuff).

Disable video auto-play

Perhaps the sneakiest attention thief of all is the auto-playing video. This creates a carousel of never-ending content that is designed to keep you watching, and is the default setting on YouTube, Netflix, Facebook and Instagram.

Credit: CNET

To crawl out of the Youtube rabbit-hole, tweak the blue Autoplay slide switch that sits at the top of the right-hand column of Up Next videos. Similarly, to avoid binge-watching Netflix, visit Account, click Playback Settings, then disable the option to Play next episode automatically.

For Facebook desktop, click on the downward arrow in the upper-right corner of the screen > then Settings > Videos > and on the drop down menu next to Autoplay Videos, select Off. For the Facebook app, visit Settings > Account Settings > Videos and Photos > and uncheck Autoplay.

Instagram lovers, your options are limited: the best you can do is ensure videos don’t auto-play when you’re using data.

Nudge yourself

Tech companies employ hordes of behavioural scientists to hook you into new habits or build upon existing ones. To combat this, try deploying some psychological tricks of your own that encourage disconnection:

Try Mute, a free app that provides daily feedback about how much time you spend on your phone. Psychologists consider this type of feedback to be a ‘nudge’ to a positive set of behaviours. In other words, you’ll likely freak out when you’ve been told how much time you stare at your screen.

Credit: Mute

To learn more about ways to get off your phone check out my Healthy Tech Habits workshop at Mauri Ora (Student Health and Counselling).

Alex Beattie is a PhD candidate in the Media Studies Programme at Victoria University of Wellington. After deleting his Facebook account five years ago, Alex regularly speaks about the benefits of disconnecting from the internet, and runs a workshop called Healthy Tech Habits.

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