Dumb smartphone is the best smartphone.
Jan 04, 2018
Quick recap: I dropped my Oneplus 3 six months ago - didn’t get it repaired for a month. Instead, carried this $10 phone with me for a while.
Eventually, I did go back to the smartphone - to order cabs, read important emails, and take photographs.
But this really made me miss the bliss of not owning a smartphone. In the previous month, I used to look at the tiny screen for a maximum of 5 minutes every day. Now when I’m back on the smartphone, the screen-time is also back to a few hours - Reddit, Twitter, Telegram, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, Kindle, Google Chrome.
Also came with it, a lot of micro-interruptions throughout the day in the form of notifications - IMs, promotions, emails, etc. An average of 15 notifications every day.
I have read accounts of people who don’t use a smartphone, or even a phone anymore. Unfortunately, that is not the way for me, at least right now. I recognize, and enjoy some of the features my Android phone gives me. I have a relatively short memory, and a notes app is essential to my life. I can’t drive, so I usually move around by walking, or through Uber. Also, I like charting the sky with the help of Stellarium.
Uninstall social networks. Except for Instagram, which I post on once a few weeks - all social networks were uninstalled. Those which were not installed, were removed from the homescreen at the very least.
Next, remove the browser from the homescreen itself.
Disable notifications for all of the IM apps I use - SMS, Telegram, Whatsapp, Signal, Messenger, Hangouts, Personal E-mail. This changed my consumption of messages from a push-based mechanism to a pull-based. Emails are checked every morning and evening. If any IM is important, people would find an alternate way to reach me, or just call me.
Over the next few days, continue to disable notifications for any app which ever sent a promotional notification - Amazon, Google maps, Flipkart, Myntra, Amazon Go, Grofers, Uber, Ola, Bookmyshow…
Start wearing a watch - I compulsively check the time whenever I get the chance to. This stops me from taking the phone out when I’m away from the computer.
I’ve been using this setup for the past 6 months now. On an average, I stare at my phone for 15-45 minutes every day. 10 of those minutes would be on the shitter, where I am browsing reddit.com, and the 30 could be in commute, where I’d read some book or comic, or just listen to a podcast.
The only notifications I’ve received in the past 6 months are work emails, meeting reminders, and reminders which I set myself. Every other weekend or so, I’d check one of the IM apps and see if I missed anything important. Luckily, nothing as of yet.
I chat with people over slack and facebook messenger - exclusively on the desktop.
If I do need to check a social post some people are talking about, I open the browser after and check it out there.
My browser habits have changed too - I’ve stopped using tabs on phone. As a heavy tab user, this limit on multitasking really makes me not use the browser anymore than absolutely necessary.