Freedom and control: changing the relationship with my phone

19 November 2014

Last week I didn’t partake in the Fandom 5 topic regarding my top apps I can’t live without. However the topic got me thinking about how I use my phone.

First, let me introduce it:

iPhone screen 01 iPhone screen 02 iPhone screen 03

Apparently I named it Winston the iPhoneasaur. (My iPod is Poddington II, and my iPad mini is Sir Smudgington.) Also, I am slightly AR when it comes to how my screens and the apps are organized. The first screen is for those 4 apps that help me get through the day: weather, calendar, maps, and transit tracking. Then it’s social and fun stuff. And finally the behind the scenes sort of stuff. I could easily fit all of this on one screen, but I like my background (designed by Anna Deegan*) and the feeling of uncluttered-ness.

Everything in its neat little place. Very few superfluous apps. No need to hunt for things, I can get straight to business. And it was thinking about all of this, realizing that I had given a sense of purpose and deliberateness, that I started thinking about the larger role my phone has in my day to day life. Of just how much importance I give it.

So, last week I decided to try a little experiment: turn off all nonessential alerts on my phone. Over the last month I started to realize just how much control my phone had over my life. Every time it beeped or buzzed or chimed, I stopped whatever I was doing and gave my phone my full attention. It made me anxious every time I heard it. I had to know what that alert was. It’s one thing to be accessible, but it’s another to be at an inanimate object’s beck and call. So, now, unless it’s an actual phone call or text message, there’s no alert.

At first you have that fear that you’re going to miss something important. We live in such a world that people expect almost instant responses. But, honestly, if something is crazy urgent, those people who absolutely need to get a hold of me — they all have my phone number. They can call. They can text. Otherwise, it can wait until I get a moment — of my own choosing — to check my phone.

I don’t feel like I’m disconnecting. I feel like I’m taking control. And it feels pretty awesome.

*My iPhone case is also one of her designs, Bloom. Anna is by far one of my favorite pattern illustrator.
**EDIT: Since writing this over the weekend, I’ve since downloaded Tsum Tsum and my phone is back in control of my life… UGH. It’s just too cute not to be addicted.

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