Bryan Landers, creator of the wonderful 3 Good Things app, has a lot of interesting ideas up his sleeve. At Medium, we found an article he’d written about making his own motivational phone wallpaper. His thinking is compelling and his method simple and easy. We tried it ourselves.
One day while fumbling with the unlock screen on my iPhone, I realized I was bored with my phone wallpaper. …because I see it an embarrassingly frequent number of times daily. What if this compulsion to check my phone could be hacked to some positive advantage? I could make wallpaper designed to evoke the spirit of my project that could act as a reminder about why it was important to me and why I needed to keep working on it. It worked!
We agree with Bryan that “even the most disciplined thinkers need some sort of occasional prompt” i.e. a “Positivity Hack”. So he devised one.
The hack here is that instead of the usual negative association with the habitual behavior of checking your phone, you hijack that behavior for the purpose of building pathways in your brain that are positive and constructive. The repetition serves to reinforce the motivating message and keep you focused on what matters.
We found it remarkably easy to make wallpapers no matter what size phone you have. We’ve added some notes to Landers’ steps:
How To Make Motivational Phone Wallpaper
1. Craft Your Message
Every time you open your phone your wallpaper will send your brain a message. You want it to be simple, concise, and emotional. You can communicate the message without text, although I’ve found textless wallpapers have a tendency to become secondary to the other lock screen elements like the time and date and lock slider UI after a few days of viewing. Ed note: We actually find the right image, without words can be remarkably powerful…like this one (Lucio Fontana approaching a blank canvas is a perpetual motivator for us):
2. Design Your Wallpaper
Don’t spend tons of time designing wallpaper — that defeats the purpose of staying focused on your project! 10 minutes or less should suffice. Since these are for private, non-commercial use, just go right for the imagery and artwork that truly inspires you (as you would with a mood board). If you have Photoshop, google for templates for your specific phone model or simply “screen pixel size” (I made one using this excellent template from Teehan+Lax).
Or look for your phone on Google’s great list of devices sizes. If not, use any app that will get it done, like OVER, that allows you to add text and other design elements to images. Note: We found Teehan+Lax’s templates helpful for visualizing where the phone’s buttons and built-in text are, and where the essential part of our wallpaper might fall. That said, you can just upload an image (via your phone’s Preferences > Wallpaper setting) and then move it around or size it to make it fit.
In an email exchange, Bryan showed us how we might focus our snippet of Ocean Vuong‘s poem…
One thing I’d mention is that phones will have some text and other UI elements on the lock screen that could collide with text in your own design. There’s no rule that says that can’t happen and this is about changing how you feel, so it’s more of a design tip to work with or around if you want to. I tend to really want to be able to read any text, so I like to see how the motivational wallpaper will interact with the time and date on my iPhone’s lock screen.So, my remix of your fun example might be –
But for us, it’s the whole thing we love, starting with “Say amend….”, amazing words to see out in the world.
3. Set Your Wallpaper and Act Naturally
Continue checking your phone as usual.
Bryan shared a few examples of wallpapers that he’d made…with this note:
It’s very personal and it’s all about leveraging this moment we enter so frequently during the day as we unlock our phones.
I thought a (unofficial!) Calvin and Hobbes wallpaper might be fun. I combined a nice moment from the comic strip with a very tactile cardboard textured background. I love seeing organic, physical things represented on that shiny electronic screen.
…my mother had sent me a few funny childhood photos of me and my brother at a circus with clown-painted faces. I made 2 versions of that for wallpaper to remind me to be silly and not too serious, and to shake me loose from my time and place a bit.