A phone is a handy tool, but at the same time, it can be an even worse drug.
Silicon Valley is thinking all its so-called improvements are helping people. I can only partly agree. For example, I can go to Russia without knowledge of Cyrillic script and read a menu in a restaurant with an instant translation simply by pointing a camera. Or I can go anywhere in the world without getting lost. In my city, even when I know the road entirely, navigation can take me to my destination faster thanks to the knowledge of traffic jams in real-time. In those examples, technology is indeed helping me a lot.
On the other hand, there is a lot of apps fighting for your attention. In a best-case scenario, any message from any messaging application is notifying you all the time, including e-mail applications and company chat. In a worst-case scenario, it’s the same, and on top of that you are informed about any post on social media, game reminders, and so on.
Just stop for a moment and think when your phone notified you for the last time? And when your phone notified you about something really important?
I noticed that my phone was distracting me about two years ago. I started turning off one app after another. The first step was to turn off Facebook notifications. Facebook is one of the worst. They have many artificial notifications such as „5 more people saw your post, share more to keep your page active“. Such bullshit.
Another big problem is the chats. First, I only turned off the sound for Messenger. It was liberating. Finally, no distraction when I need to focus. The problem was, when I needed my phone (to check out my schedule tomorrow, for example) I noticed someone wrote to me and after a few minutes I found myself replying to messages. Of course, I didn’t check the schedule, because I forgot about it.
My next phase was to disable notification for all chat applications altogether. The result is I have more significant delays, but who says we should reply immediately? No one has time for that! It also means people don’t like to chat with me. Now I have much less of online communication, but only with people far away. The bright side is I can do more work; I can read, have better offline friendships and also an excellent relationship with my wife.
Anyway, I still felt something is missing. That I use the phone still too much. I came across the book How to Break Up with Your Phone. It’s a fantastic book, and I would love if everyone read it. I really hate it when I talk to you, and you are chatting with someone else… it isn’t very pleasant. 🤪
This book showed me a way how to notice when and why I pick up the phone. I discovered I sometimes pick up the phone just to check if there is something to do and checking all apps even when once a day would be enough.
Another radical change I didn’t think of before was to apply the same notification policy also to e-mails. It felt weird to turn off notification for e-mails. But I found there is really nothing super important to get it immediately. This change freed me from the phone even more. Now, only phone calls or text messages get my attention. The rest is hidden, and when I open the phone, there is no distraction for me.
The last idea I took from the book is to be entirely off sometimes. The recommendation is to plan the whole day offline without a phone. I don’t do that, because I don’t want to give up of useful stuff like navigation, camera, notes and similar, but sometimes I have a check-free time, and it’s good.
Try it too.
Don’t be a servant of technology.
Use technology to serve you.