In my previous post about social media, I mentioned how quitting them made me use my smartphone less. However smartphone use is much more complicated so below I will try to quickly express some of my thoughts and how-tos about this first world problem.
Social media are not the only cause of annoying notifications on smartphones.
Even in this new situation without any social media application on my Xiaomi Mi Max 2, I had to turn off various notifications from email accounts I don’t want to have push notifications on, application reminders, etc.
Especially for emails (I have A LOT of them), I decided to completely remove accounts that there is no need to read them on the go (like for example my Archphile email).
For the remaining emails, I unsubscribed from all annoying mailing lists to ensure the less possible distraction from them.
Last but not least I have created a “Do Not Disturb” profile that silences everything from 23:00 to 08:00.
During all these years of android use, I had ended up with a set of applications that I thought I should have installed “just in case I need them”.
This time I decided to keep only what is really needed for my everyday use, focusing in productivity.
As a result I got rid more than 20 apps (games, web radio apps, news apps etc) I rarely used but were there for when I needed to get distracted.
Re-organizing the Desktop
My last Desktop setup included an 6x7 grid full of all the apps (plus folders with additional apps) I though I needed to have immediate access when I open the phone.
I decided to get rid of everything and to re-organize my desktop (based on Nova Launcher). The result is:
- a simply black wallpaper (as usually)
- No dock
- 2 lines with apps and folders
- one of these folders containing the majority of apps I use.
- 2 Simpletask widgets for my GTD: one shows tasks with priorities (A and B) and the other shows tasks with a due date
- 2 widgets from Notes, a Nextcloud app I use for all my .txt lists, notes, journal etc..
It might sound bloated but it isn’t. It’s a 100% GTD focused desktop, a vauled assistant on my everyday life.
In addition to that, every time I open the phone without a reason (because I am still addicted to be honest), it reminds me of things I have to do, of the (.txt based) journal I keep andf need to write on it, various tasks that I need to proceed with in order to finish with them and have more time to spend time with my family, friends or reading, photographing etc.
Note: In this post I give some further information on which apps I use for my productivity.
Protecting the Eyes
In order to protect my eyes, I have “reading node” always on. In addition to that, I very frequently use the phone in greyscale mode (I enable it very easily with Monochromatic). This last “tweak”, in addition to the protection, it makes the screen far less attractive so that it’s difficult to stick the eyes on the phone unintentionally.
Dealing with the Addiction
Everything that I mentioned until now, is OK but not enough to deal with the smartphone addiction.
Being a father of an 8 months kid, my motivation to deal with this addiction was big:
- I didn’t want my child to see his father using a smartphone all day
- I wanted to spend as much as quality time as possible with my family
So I went further.
Keeping the smartphone out of the bedroom
The decision to leave the smartphone out of the bedroom was very important. It immediately led to a much nicer and calmer sleep.
In addition to that I set two rules:
- No smartphone use at least 30 minutes before sleep
- No smartphone use as a first thing in the morning
Replacing a bad habit with a good one
As already mentioned in the social media post, I decided to buy a Kindle. Whenever I have some free time, instead of using the smartphone (or my desktop PC), I get the kindle and I start immediately reading. Since June I have read more than 10 books.
Using a Dumbphone
Being a very active runner lately, I decided to start running without my smartphone, as I wanted to get more focused on my exercise. However I needed a phone with me, so I decided to buy the cheapest (I spent 20 euro for that) and smallest phone (Nokia 130 DS) I could find with bluetooth functionality (to use while driving).
I got a second SIM with the same number from my carrier and started using it only when I was out running.
After some months, I now use this phone during the weekend, when I am out with my family and in general, whenever I want to escape from the madness of my smartphone.
I know that I will never replace my smartphone with a device like that. It’s too late for me. However it’s really nice to have this alternative whenever I need it.
Note: When I am out with the dumbphone, in order to follow my GTD system, I usually carry a very small notebook and a pen, in order to note my inbox. If I have tasks to do, I either print them if they are a lot, or just write them on the notebook. When I am back home, I update my todo.txt on the smartphone or the desktop pc.
Not Giving a Fuck About What Others Say
Not having social media, going out with friends/family with a dumb phone etc. always results in (usually funny) comments from all these people. It’s unavoidable. What I have decided is:
Not to “advertise” or discuss about my new habits if I am not asked. I am not a hipster and I don’t follow any trend. I am just a guy struggling with first-world addictions.
Not to take what others say seriously. Some of them say I am a “Luddite” or a victim of the ““Minimalism” trend, others say I am simply obsessive. I just don’t care about anything I hear about my “new self” (if we can call this a self - but that’s a Bhuddist topic to be analyzed on another post :P).
Smartphone addiction is a very serious problem as it affects our whole life.
In this post I chose not to refer to any statistics. I just wanted to share my story, hoping that it will help others by giving them inspiration and ideas.
It’s easy to do a research online and see yourself how social media along with smartphones are associated with anxiety, depression and several other mental disorders, especially for the age group of 18-23. Even better (or worse…), you can just go out anywhere you want (to the mall, to a bar, a restaruant etc..) and see the people around you. Everyone uses their smartphone avoiding communication with others.
Escaping from dystopia is not an easy task, but at least let’s give it a try together.