With only a couple exceptions, my phone has been sitting on a shelf in my office for the past week, and I’m pretty happy about it.
Compared to the many hours of screen time I’d been racking up previously, I’m barely using my phone now. I’d like to see how long I can keep this up.
Previously, I noticed how doomscrolling news and social media coincided with my mood spiraling downward. In response, I deleted a bunch of apps from my phone. Social media. News. Stocks. The most addicting games. This was a net positive. I could still check up on various feeds from my laptop or tablet, but I had removed the incentive to doomscroll on my phone.
I continued to spend significant amounts of time and attention on my phone. Flipping between apps as if my phone were a fidget spinner or a focus eating slot machine.
I could have continued deleting apps. But I wanted a better solution.
I had read a piece of advice recently: don’t use your phone as an alarm clock. A phone that acts as an alarm clock puts the object of distraction in your hands when you first wake up.
When we visited friends of ours a while back, I noticed they charged their phones downstairs while they slept upstairs. I had thought this odd at the time, but now it seems brilliant. I shopped for alarm clocks until I realized I had a potential solution on my wrist: the Apple Watch.
I had previously been using the Apple Watch as a companion to my phone. I had the option to leave the house without my phone without being completely disconnected since my watch can handle basic tasks… calls, texts, simple scheduling, Apple Pay, and the like. What if I extended that to full time?
With the Watch, I can:
- listen to audiobooks and podcasts as long as I have bluetooth earbuds;
- check my schedule for the day;
- add and check off todo items in Things and Reminders;
- check the weather before walking the dogs;
- and set timers and reminders so I don’t forget.
There’s even a flashlight feature I wasn’t aware of until this experiment. I’ve gotten decent at using the tiny swipe keyboard. And so far I feel zero draw to waste hours staring at the screen.
For more complex tasks, I move to my iPad or laptop.
Cons and workarounds
- I can’t fully administer my Apple Watch without my iPhone. This is a fairly quick task so I can walk to my phone, change settings, then put it back down.
- Uber and Lyft don’t have Watch apps. If I know I’ll want to use those apps, I could carry my phone in my backpack.
- Non-audiobook reading: I have a Kindle, and I may return to physical books at some point.
- The public transit app doesn’t have a Watch app. But I can purchase a public transit card to swipe and keep that in my wallet.
- Camera: the iPad has a camera, and I have mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. I may carry them more often as well.
- Passwords: I have a password manager on my phone, but I can’t access those passwords on my watch. I can access those passwords on my iPad or laptop.
- Smaller battery: I keep an eye on the battery level and charge when I have downtime in my schedule.
- Whole Foods: I had to set a pref to allow entering my phone number instead of scanning a barcode on my phone to get the discounts.
- Audiobook usage: I need to carry my AirPods to make these useful, but that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.
- Phone: Mixed results here. For short informative calls just talking into my wrist seems to work. Carrying the AirPods makes this nicer.
- Car: I can’t seem to connect the watch to the car, which means if I want to listen to podcasts or audiobooks I could either carry my phone when I drive or pick up an external bluetooth speaker. I tend to only drive once or twice a week so this isn’t as big of a deal.
- Quick boredom relief: Kindle, carry a notebook or book, or deal with it. Boredom is supposed to be a catalyst for creativity.
The phone is such a versatile and portable device. It’s a shame that I can’t seem to avoid getting sucked into it. I’m happy to carry more specialized tools if it makes me more productive and happier.
I’ve gained so much more mental headspace and focus that the laundry list of cons is worth it.