There I was thinking whether I should buy a new smartphone or stay with my ancient Nokia when the repair shop called to say my I-Phone was fixed! I had mixed feelings. As my recent blog showed, I was quite enjoying a smartphone detox. But there are some things I really do need a smartphone for.
One is checking train times and delays when your train station is half shut-down (Waterloo, this past week!). Another is my list of contacts, I have a zillion phone numbers and emails stored in the cloud – my trusty Nokia simply doesn’t have the capacity to capture them. Then there was the issue of text messages. Having to click the number keys one, two or three times to get the right letter and then deal with really bad text prediction was a pain. “Uber” for taxis, “Deliveroo” for food delivery, “Evernotes” for taking notes and “Feedly” for my curated newsfeeds were also sorely missed.
Those are the good things. What I didn’t want was the phone grabbing my attention when it wanted to, rather than when I wanted to. So I have introduced four measures to tame my phone:
1) I’ve switched the phone to black and white. As the picture suggests, it makes the phone much much less appealing. Now, I really don’t want to interact with it unless I have to. Clearly, smartphone manufacturers are aware of this and so make it very difficult to put this into effect. So let me explain how I did it on my IPhone:
- Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Colour filters > select Greyscale. (Now your phone will become black and white)
- Then back at the Accessibility menu, scroll down and select “Accessibility Shortcut” then tick “Colour Filters”. This allows you to triple-click your home button to easily toggle between greyscale and colour. (I would use this to switch my phone to colour when taking photos, for example)
2) Out of the bedroom. I used to sleep next to my smartphone – it was my alarm clock after all. But the proximity of the phone just makes you want to use it as you’re going to bed or when you wake up. There are emails to check, social media feeds to check, podcasts to listen to and so on. Now I charge my phone in a separate room and have got an old school alarm clock for the bedroom. Has made a huge difference!
3) I have switched off all notifications. All I get now are a sound or ringtone when I get texts or a phone call. Otherwise no sounds or pop-up windows for any other incoming updates from other apps.
4) I only check the phone three times a day. Once in the morning, once at lunch and once at the end of the workday. The same discipline I try to impose on email, I’ve also applied to my smartphone.
I have to say it has made a big difference! I have an app called “RealizD” which tracks how often I pick up the phone, what times of the day and for how long. Before these changes, I was picking up my phone every 15 minutes, now it is every hour or two. Not only that, it is clustered around my 3 times a day, rather than being spread across the whole day. So hopefully I can have my smartphone cake and eat it!
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