Dumbphone

The other day, I talked about trying to unplug more often. This is a continuation in that journey.

My phone is the biggest distraction device I own. It’s always at arm’s length and it’s full of Apps that provide instant gratification, but later invoke feelings of guilt for having wasted time and energy.

Since I can’t rely on my own willpower, I’ve removed all of the Apps on my phone that don’t provide significant value. I’ve removed all temptation. And this morning, it worked.

I went to a client meeting and I arrived early. I waited for 10 minutes in reception and the first thing I did was pull out my phone. It’s ingrained, a habit, muscle memory. When I’m in a public place, I gravitate towards doing something, anything, on my phone. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps it’s the fear of being bored. Or perhaps it’s the embarrassment of others seeing me do nothing. Or perhaps it’s just to avoid eye contact. I don’t know.

Anyway, I looked at my phone and saw an empty home screen. It was the reminder I needed. I put my phone back in my pocket, sat back, and observed. I watched a guy walk to reception, sign in, then sit down and pull out his phone. He was checking his email. I know because I had a quick glance.

This was confirmation that it’s not just me. We’re in a distraction economy. It’s a problem that’s getting deeper because most of us aren’t aware that it is a problem.

Here’s my pared down home screen:

My iPhone home screen

The Apps I use are:

  • Weather Line, the best weather forecasting App I’ve found
  • Instapaper, for reading articles
  • Pedometer, for tracking my daily step count
  • Way of Life, for tracking my habits
  • Spotify, Audible, and Overcast, for music, audiobooks, and podcasts
  • Todoist, for capturing tasks or checking what to buy when in store (I don’t organise or review tasks on my phone)
  • 1Password, for logging in to stuff
  • Headspace, which I currently don’t use but plan to after being inspired by Andy’s post
  • Google Maps, as I still find it more reliable than Apple Maps for walking directions
  • Simplenote, for capturing thoughts on the go

The only other 3rd party Apps I use are My Vodafone for checking data usage and Dropbox for backing up data in Way of Life.

That’s it. No Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or email. I’ve simplified it as much as I can, leaving only the things that add value. It’s now, more or a less, just a dumbphone. And I love it.

(Here’s a picture of my lock screen, courtesy of Austin Kleon.)

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This entry is part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, where I'm trying to write and publish every day during April. All my posts in this challenge can be found here.

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