Putting the phone down
This last week I've decided to conduct a bit of an experiment. I decided I needed something of a 'digital detox' in my life. I noticed I was spending way too much time on my phone. Youtube, Twitch, Reddit, Twitter not to mention the endless stream of messenger notifications. Every time I got bored or had a few minutes to kill I would habitually turn to my phone. After a moment of clarity I felt like it was impeding my ability to think straight.
I realized that I was so busy consuming other people's (low value) content that I didn't have the time or the bandwidth to think about my own life.
I had to get away from my smart phone, but it's 2021. You can't just revert back to a flip phone. Sure, that would solve the being 'contactable' by phone if someone desperately needed to contact me. But how would I control the smart lights in my house? How would I set a timer when cooking in the kitchen? How would I know what the weather is going to be today?
Like it or not, to be functional in 2021 I need access to a smart assistant (super weird just writing this). But it's true.
So I picked up the cellular Apple Watch and put my phone away in the draw. I have a pair of Apple AirPods that I paired to the watch for phone calls and after a bit of setup I was good to go.
It took 4 days to stop habitually reaching for my phone... You may be surprised how often you do it without thinking. It certainly surprised me. It took some getting used to it but after 24 hours I was already feeling the benefits. I'd given myself time to think in the morning instead of reaching for the phone. I started to think about my day, what I wanted to get done, I reflected on the dreams I was having. I felt more peaceful. This feeling persisted into late morning.
Instead of feasting on 'Digital Sugar' (micro doses of dopamine disguised as notifications). I looked at the emails on my computer where I could respond to them properly. I replied to the Messenger chats on a real keyboard quickly and closed the browser tab. I've never known such efficiency!
I have more energy for work, even better. Reducing my consumption of digital media and removing the noise of notifications lead me to actually enjoy my work more. That's huge.
Not only that, but I've managed to start writing on this blog again! Something I've been meaning to do for a while now but never quite got around to.
So now, instead of reaching for my phone before leaving the house, I reach for my A5 notebook and a pen. If I know I'm going for longer time I'll pair that with a physical book.
- Darren Inglis