A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how you can improve your productivity and happiness by breaking up with your phone and being more mindful with how you use social networks. You’re welcome to read the original article that’ll put this one into better context if you haven’t already.
Since then I’ve been able to test other small tricks that have helped me have a healthier relationship with my phone and a better one with myself and those around me.
- Disabling app suggestions and the discover feed from my phone
- In addition to have uninstalled all social media apps I now remain logged off social networks in my phone browser as well (great combo with 2-factor auth)
- Scheduling tweets
- Never carry the phone in my pocket
- Preferring my blog over social networks for sharing content
Let’s take a closer but brief look at each one of these items.
Even after I removed all social networks and time sinks from my phone, even after I cleaned up my home screen from attention-calling apps, I would still catch myself opening my work email (while on parental leave) and other grey-zone apps from time to time.
The reason for that is that the App Suggestions feature in Android, makes it too damn convenient to open apps that you have no business opening. This is another example of a feature with a great though behind: to make you more productive and lose less time by suggesting the app that you want to open at a given time and context failing to deliver on its promise, and, instead making you more distracted. So away with it.
The discover feed is another feature that is supposed to bring content that you are interested in to the comfort of your phone. You just swipe left and there you have a bunch of articles about things you’re interested about. The problem is that, again, it makes it too convenient to start swiping mindlessly, reading headlines like a zombie, and not really engaging with anything. So away with it.
Removing all social media apps from your phone is amazing. Oh! Sweet freedom! However, in time, you’ll find yourself just browsing to you social network of choice. Android makes it a low friction experience by providing a search field where you can type in a url. This will bring you directly inside the sweet embrace of your Nemesis. So log off. Log off from all your social networks and for added security and friction enable two factor authentication in all of them. (Than you Vladimir for this tip!!)
My relationship with Twitter has improved a lot. Removing Twitter from my phone and using healthy twitter (a chrome extension which removes all the indicators that make you addicted) has cured my addiction and reduced the times I go to Twitter from ~30/day to ~2/day.
That means that now, whenever I go to Twitter, I’m doing it on purpose and not like a mindless drone. Still it’s hard to reach people when logging in only once or twice a day. The nature of the eternal Twitter flow prevents it. That’s why I’ve found helpful to schedule tweets for throughout the day, then engage with people whenever I connect.
Following all the tips and advice from this and the previous article will help you live a more engaged and thoughtful life. But you’ll still reach for your phone mindlessly when doing something else. That’s why I try to keep my phone away from my pocket.
The next time you go for a walk. Try to keep your phone somewhere else, a bag or just leave it at home. I assure you that you’ll be surprised by how many times your reach for the ghost of your phone there in your pocket.
Austin Kleon has a great piece on this. Scott Hanselmann too. I cannot explain the feeling of peace and fulfillment that comes from writing, your stuff, in your blog. Where Twitter feels like shouting into the abyss, this blog is a garden of beauty where I get to stroll, reflect, grow, share my thoughts and have you for a visit now and then.
Have a great day! You’re welcome to my garden any time.
Written by Jaime González García , dad, husband, software engineer, ux designer, amateur pixel artist, tinkerer and master of the arcane arts. You can also find him on Twitter jabbering about random stuff.