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3 Phone Rules That Will Double Your Productivity

3 Phone Rules That Will Double Your Productivity

If you’ve updated your iPhone recently, you’ve noticed that there’s a new Screen Time reporting feature under Settings.

This is really good news because the average person in the US spends 4 hours a day on their phone. That’s A LOT.

Imagine what you could do with an extra 4 hours a day? That’s 28 hours a week!!!

I would read more books for sure. Plus lots of other things like learn how to paint with watercolors, grow a green thumb, and organize my closet by color (seriously – I want to do that!).

What would you do?

I don’t know about you, but my most addictive app is Instagram. The scrolling is sooooo seductive. I love the pictures. I love learning new things. I love connecting with new people.

But I also know that scrolling through my Instagram feed is not part of the 20% of activities that leads to 80% of my results. (Want to know what your 20% of activities that leads to 80% of your results is? Pre-order my new book, Do Less, and get a bonus workshop that will show you!)

Setting a vague intention to spend less time on my phone isn’t that effective. I just get caught back in the loop of grabbing it when I stumble upon writer’s block or zoning out at night leaning on the kitchen island when what my body really wants is sleep (and better posture).

Instead, I’ve got a set of rules for myself that are simple yet effective. While I haven’t reclaimed the full 4 hours of time my phone has the potential of stealing, I’m working towards it! (If you think about it as a full half of the workday, imagine how much more productive you could be if you re-claimed it? Potentially twice as productive!)

Here are my 3 rules:

  • No phones in the bedroom. I plug it in downstairs and go upstairs for bed without it. This cuts out a ton of tired, late-night scrolling and prevents me from starting my day by unconsciously getting swept away in my newsfeed.
  • No phones at the table. Phones are on silent and out of sight during family meals. Period. Nothing sucks the precious presence out of a meal like someone pulling out their phone (even if it’s to show the other people at the table something).
  • No auditory notifications and phone kept on silent (not vibrate) unless I’m expecting an important call. (Also no visual notifications other than texts and missed calls.)

These phone boundaries create a lot of sanity in my life and have helped me reclaim a lot of time.

But I want event more.

In the short video below I’m giving you the insider scoop on why this particular experience has tremendous meaning in my life and what I’m hoping it will do for all of us.

Click below to watch.

That’s why I’m doing something called the Less Phone, More Life experience to test-drive a few additional phone boundaries and see how much more time and sanity I can regain.

Want to join me? It’s free, and there’s no offer or upsell.

Click here to join the Less Phone, More Life experience.

I get that being in right relationship with technology is a lifelong practice as opposed to one of those things you check off as done. Kind of like meditation or being married.

The greatest gift we can give the world is our true presence. twitter-logo

3 Phone Rules That Will Double Your Productivity

Being on our phones too much robs the world of the greatest gifts we have to offer, so I hope you’ll join me in committing to being on your phone less and in your life more.


What boundaries do you have around your phone use? I’d love to hear what’s working for you in the comments!


  • Heather

    I implemented #3 a year ago when my ‘phone anxiety’ reached epic proportions! All those expectations to be immediately available were causing me all kinds of stress! I have some folks (like my dad!) who still don’t understand why I don’t jump to respond immediately when they call or text but I’m comfortable with these limits I’ve imposed because they have helped me live a more peaceful life!!

    • Kate Northrup

      Yes – I love that you’ve set limits to quell your anxiety. it’s up to us to set the limits because the notifications and needs will never stop!

  • Tara

    This new ScreenTime app has really opened my eyes to just how mindless I have been with my phone. I was HORRIFIED by the numbers it threw back at me. I haven’t decided what my acceptable number is yet, but it is certainly less than what I’ve seen thus far. I’m making small changes every day to be more present and mindful of the time i spend on my phone, and the numbers are already dropping. Thanks for the article!

    • Kate Northrup

      I know – isn’t that Screen Time calculation incredible? its such a gift to add that to the new OS, I think. I’m glad you found the post helpful!

  • I use my phone for my work and organisation, so I’m nervous about turning off the notifications. Instead I’ve installed an app called AntiSocial, in which I’ve listed all of the apps that aren’t actually beneficial to my day and steal my time. I’m limited to 30 minutes on them per day, which is more than enough time to respond to social media notifications without getting sucked in. After that time the app blocks them and I can’t open them. It makes me mindful of my time on them, and not lingering otherwise I’ll run out of time!

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