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How I Hacked “Do Not Disturb While Driving” And Significantly Improved My Life

By Tommy Sobel

Today’s technology is incredible. Considering everything we can do from our phones, let’s admit it, we’re basically gods. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Americans spend upwards of 10 hours a day on our devices. New research shows that the more time we spend on our phones and social media, the more unhealthy we become. Anxiety, loneliness, burnout, and general life dissatisfaction are more prevalent today than ever before. How is this possible when technology does so much for us?


Around 80% of my texts back to people start with, “Hey sorry, missed this,” or “Sorry, just seeing this now.” It’s sad to think of the number of times I’ve distracted myself from friends to tend to an inane but seemingly time-sensitive task because of a notification on my phone. Worse yet, I often feel guilty about not being even more available to everyone all the time.

We do this because we feel an obligation to respond immediately when someone messages us. When we get a text, we get this feeling, this itch, that we only have a certain amount of time to respond before we feel guilty about the “delay.” Conversely, when we reach out to others, we expect them to do the same. This is the slippery slope we’ve fallen into as we’ve created the “always on” society.

This lifestyle is not serving me and it’s not serving you. I don’t want to be a slave to my phone or our society to be either because we’re headed towards a very dark reality.

As a self-diagnosed ex-phone addict, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have an iPhone lifehack that has significantly improved my life. If you do this too, together we might start to mend our “generational addiction” for the survival of meaningful relationships, before it’s too late.



A year ago I created a rule for myself that became a daily routine. For at least an hour every day, I disconnect from my phone by turning it into a Brick™, and do something engaging in the real world. It’s worked so well that I left my job to start a community that makes it fun and easy for others to join me and get off the grid a little bit every day (join at www.gobricknow.com).

When my phone is in Brick Mode™ and I’m completely disconnected from the internet (at dinner with a friend, on a hike, or reading a book) anyone who texts me will get an automatic reply saying that I’m off my phone and I’ll get back to them when I’ve reconnected. This simple auto-reply relieves my “always on” pressure because I know that anyone who texts knows I haven’t seen the message yet. So the “always on” clock hasn’t started in my absence. When I come back to my phone and I get my “notification flood,” I’m not triggered with the pang of anxiety that I’m already behind on a ton of things. This also relieves the pressure from anyone who texts me because they know I haven’t seen it yet and won’t be getting back to them immediately. This is much more pleasant than wondering if they’re being ignored.

My life has really opened up. I’ve been more engaged with my friends and family, I read 28 books last year and I started my own company. Brick Mode has made all the difference.



Open the Settings app:

Tap “Do Not Disturb”:

Tap Activate > Manually:

Go back and tap All Contacts:

Go back and tap Auto-Reply. Then replace with whatever you want the auto-reply to say. Feel free to copy and paste what I use below:

“My phone is in Brick Mode and I’m off the grid enjoying life. I’ll get this message when I’ve reconnected. Join the movement here: www.gobricknow.com

Copy and paste response:

Return to Control Center:

Tap Customize Controls:

Tap the green plus sign:

Close Settings. Now when you swipe to view the Control Panel, you’ll see a car emoji. When you want to lock up your phone and activate auto-reply (we call it Brick Mode).

Tap the car and you’re done:

Brick Mode in action:

If we can all agree to do this, we can begin to shift our culture away from “always on” expectations and burnout to “sometimes off” bliss. Our phones were meant to serve us, not for us to serve them.

Tommy Sobel

CEO & Founder of Brick


Did this help you? Let me know in the comments!

Comments: 2

  • Isaac Liston July 5, 2018 11:31 pm

    Thank you for this!

  • Asghar January 10, 2019 7:44 am

    Hi, are you still able to do this with the latest version of iOS? I tried doing the same thing but I think Apple might’ve installed some sort of update that prevents you from turning it on if you’re not *actually* driving.

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