Smartphones have become such an influential part of our lives. Many of us use them as soon as we wake up and just as we are about to fall asleep. For both writing and photography, social media is crucial for me to be able to share content with the world. Whilst this technology is extremely important in today’s society, it is no secret millions of us worldwide have become lost in our screens and in result, sadly we have stopped seeing the world around us.
So many opportunities to be productive are lost due to time wasted scrolling and scrolling through mind numbing content, that you would be forgiven for thinking that smart tech is more of a hindrance, rather than being a tool for productivity. We lose time with our friends because we would rather see what is trending on Twitter or look at what celebrities are having for dinner on Instagram.
Thankfully, people are becoming more aware of the destructive capabilities technology and social media can have on our minds, and we could soon be moving in a direction where the people say enough is enough and decide to put their tech down and start living life again.
Companies are also waking up to people's desire to free themselves from the physiological handcuffs technology has put on their minds. Startups like Light, creators of both Light Phone I and the proposed Light Phone II, have come up with a design that purposely wants to put you off using your phone. Using a minimalist approach the second generation Light Phone will only provide you with the essentials; like calls, texts, maps and the ability to book a taxi.
Sadly, for those like me who want the LP II, they will have to wait until the Spring of 2019 before they have the opportunity to get one. So, in the meantime I made the decision to dumb down my smartphone.
My new Dumb(ish) Phone.
Step 1 - Remove all social media
I said goodbye to Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and my beloved Instagram. I can use all these apps on my desktop, once in the morning and once in the evening. Seriously, there is no need for me to be constantly checking the interaction on my content. It becomes an impulse rather than a measured decision to check to it, and for me this is too much of an unhealthy behaviour.
Step 2 - Only install the essentials
Taking inspiration from the Light Phone, I now only have what I deem to be essential on my smartphone. This includes - calls, texts, WhatsApp, Music Player, Maps, Banking and Uber. All the other apps have either been disabled or uninstalled. This promotes the ethos that I will only use my phone when I genuinely need to. There will be no risk of going into mindless zombie mode and needlessly scrolling through the device.
Step 3 - Install App Block
Of course it just as easy to reinstall apps as it is to uninstall them. However, with tools like App Block it isn’t. The software allows you to block access to any apps you choose, including the App Store. My access is blocked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The app is also password protected, meaning it can not be uninstalled unless you enter the unique password. I asked a friend to create the password, so I have no clue what it is - the result being - I am blocked for good.
Step 4 - Take my phone off silent
I often had my phone on silent, mainly because I found the notification noise annoying as it went off throughout the day. A consequence of this was an impulse to keep checking my phone. Had I got the response I was waiting for? Has that call come through yet? This would become a toxic rinse and repeat ordeal. Having my phone on loud means that I have no reason to check my phone unless the noise of a notification has been heard.
Step 5 - Turn my phone display to black and white
Humans are extremely intelligent creatures, with complex minds and ways of thinking. That said, we can easily become captivated just by the sight of pretty colours. Our phones are designed to look attractive, with high DPI and bright accurate colour, they have a way of holding our attention. Turning your phone black and white makes it look far less appealing on the eye, and the desire to hold it in your hand decreases.
I have been using my phone in its new form for 3 weeks now. Already I am feeling the benefits. I am sleeping better, I am writing more, editing photos more. I am having better quality conversations with my family and friends. Most of all, I feel free - free to live life without constantly worrying about what is going on in the world of cyber.
My energy is up and I am feeling more positive. That is more than enough for me to be able to feel like I had made the right decision.
If you’re someone who also struggles to put down their phone, why not try taking the steps that I have outlined above. Trust me, if you’re serious about being more productive and mindful, you certainly won’t regret it.
Thanks for reading
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