phone off

May 17, 2016 - workbook

I decided to stop using my phone so much. It’s got to the point where it’s probably accurate to say this is one of my principal daily activities. It is not good. About a year ago I deleted all the games and switched the internet off. It’s been good on the whole, but a couple of games reappeared (Scrabble, Real Racing) and Safari managed to find a way back. But recently I’ve become a little too dependent on the evil trio of email, internet and Twitter and need to do something more drastic. I’ve been exploring downgrading to a brick and this is still a possibility if it wasn’t for the enormous contract buyout involved and the likely lack of a decent camera in my pocket. So instead I’ve had a purge. Things that are no longer on my phone are: games, email, internet, Twitter, WordPress, cricket scores, and pretty much anything that makes me want to look at it. It is now as boring as I can make it, although I can probably lose some more stuff. And it seems to be working after a couple of days.

I’ve read more, finished (I think) the piano piece I’ve been deferring for months, looked at things more, engaged with people in a more focused way, sat and listened to music, and generally been happier. OK, so it’s not been the busiest couple of days with regards to correspondence, but it’s been manageable. I’ve checked email at set times, and at the time of writing only have three in my inbox, two of which are about to be dealt with. This is all very good.

I also went into a couple of phone shops yesterday to see what downgrade options might be available. In O2 the assistant was extremely enthusiastic until she discovered I wanted to buy the most basic phone available, with no email, internet, nothing. Once this registered she advised me to look at those over there with a wave of her hand and wandered off. I know it’s obvious, but once you step back from it the drive to push us towards ever newer models is shameless. I took great pleasure in feeling outside of that for a while. Equally, I know I’m normally fixated on my phone, and stopping this highlights this behaviour in others. Since blitzing the apps yesterday, I’ve not wanted to look at my phone – it’s boring remember, nothing to see – and have felt less anxious and more relaxed.

I hope this will last. It’s going to be difficult at busy times, but not impossible. It’s likely that email replies will come at sensible times now, and I might be a little less immediate in my responses. Inbox zero is still a normal state at the end of the day, but will happen in blocks rather than as a constant drip. It’s going to take a lot of self-control, but on the evidence so far it is worth it. I just need to stop posting stuff like this late at night now and go and listen to something. I think some more Jürg Frey beckons.

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