The Ultimate Guide To Cell Phone Decorum

Cell Phone

The ability to keep in touch with family, friends and business is important. But these days cell phones also allow you to access email, store data, take pictures and videos, listen to music and surf the net. They are super convenient and time saving, but your cell phone can also cause you to waste a lot of time and be a generally all around annoying person.

This is why using a little cell phone etiquette is important.
Keep conversations private. Keep in mind that other people don’t want to listen to your personal conversations. Stepping away for your private conversations will make everyone more comfortable.
Turn off your phone. Get in the habit of using the silent feature or turning off your phone before entering a gathering, meeting, auditorium or other public place. By doing so, you won’t be distracted so easily. You can also use an app to turn off your ringer that will allow you to set a time that the phone will turn the ringer back on. How convenient. You don’t even have to think about it!
Don’t multitask. Stop talking on your phone while driving or crossing the street. Don’t risk your safety for a phone call. Same goes for texting and web surfacing while trying to do something else. You know of all the studies that prove multitasking doesn’t work. Don’t engage with your phone while trying to focus on something else.
Never have extended cell conversations in the company of others. Continuing to use the phone while nodding and signaling to the person in front of you is bad-mannered. It keeps you from being fully present with them. Keeping in touch with your friends and family needs to be done in person. Do it! Get off your phone.
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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Juli Monroe on December 8, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I completely agree. Especially number 2. When I’m meeting with someone, they are the most important person to me at that time. And I silence my phone to make that completely clear.

  2. Basic Organization on December 9, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Thanks Juli. You know things have gone too far when churches have to post signs to turn off cell phones (as at my church)! So much for quiet reflection.

  3. Jamie Steele on February 3, 2020 at 9:00 am

    What a great reminder! My phone is always in do not disturb mode so I don’t have to worry about most of these. I try to flip my phone upside down when out and socializing so I don’t feel as much of a draw to interact with it. Great tips!

    • Janet Schiesl on February 3, 2020 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks Jamie. I also have my phone ringer off most of the time and I also turn off all ding notifications. It keeps the interruptions down for me.

  4. Donna Matthews on February 3, 2020 at 9:12 am

    Love this…we are allowing our phones to dictate our behavior and not for the better!

  5. Sabrina Quairoli on February 3, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing this reminder. It’s important and people are not mentioning it as much anymore, I’m not sure why.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 3, 2020 at 8:10 pm

      I hope it’s because people have become more aware.

  6. Janet Barclay on February 3, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    I would extend that to include walking down the street. It’s one thing if you’re having a conversation, but it makes me crazy to see people walking with their nose in their phone, especially if they have a dog with them.

  7. Linda Samuels on February 3, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    It’s fascinating that we even need to talk about cell phone etiquette. These devices have become commonplace in our lives. And in many instances, they are disruptive. So it’s essential to establish some “rules.” I am pretty good about turning off the sound on my phone when I’m entering a meeting, performance, or other group situations. However, one day in yoga class, even though I had turned off the sound, there was some alarm that went off anyway. Yikes! At first, I didn’t realize it was my device because I knew I had turned the volume off. And when I realized it WAS mine, I quickly turned it off and was so embarrassed. Now I turn off my phone all together during class. For those 60+ minutes, I’m unreachable, and that is fine with me. Plus, I don’t risk disturbing my teacher or classmates.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 3, 2020 at 8:13 pm

      Sounds like your alarm went off. I use my alarm daily as a reminder for myself, when I have scheduled phones calls or meetings that I have to tend to.

  8. Lisa J. on July 15, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Nowadays, most people engage with their phones while trying to focus on something else. It’s very annoying!! So, this article will help to make them more conscious about Phone-Tech Etiquette. So thank you very much for sharing this informative post.

    • Janet Schiesl on July 15, 2020 at 8:22 pm

      We have turned into a world of multi-taskers and it’s not good. Looking at your phone and not paying attention to the person in front of you is very rude. Don’t you think?

      • Lisa J. on July 23, 2020 at 10:47 am

        Yes! I think so. It’s very annoying and rude! I hate this kind of manner. Thank you for your reply.

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