Lessons from One Week of a Distraction Free iPhone

Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love all that it allows me to do. I hate how much control I let it have over my life. So when a friend told me about the possibility of creating a distraction free iPhone, I was intrigued.

distraction-free iphone
Image Credit: Lifehacker

So I looked up the article about it and decided to try it for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, I liked it enough to try it for another week.
Now, almost two weeks later, I don’t see myself going back any time soon.

I still have quite a few apps on my phone, but the big distractors are gone: email, web browser, Facebook, Twitter, news apps, and Feedly (an RSS reader).

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. I have much less self-control than I think (i.e. systems trump intentions).

When it comes to technology, I can be the self-delusional addict who says, “I can quit at anytime.” Not true. If email is accessible, I will check it. If Twitter is on my phone, I will open it.

2. My default became to reach for the phone in any downtime.

It’s been amazing how many times I’ve reached for my phone in the last week — not because I really needed something, but because it had become habit. This often happens when I’m waiting for something or when, at a restaurant, the person I’m with goes to the restroom. Having a distraction free iPhone has slowly begun to change this habit.

3. My life isn’t any worse without constant social media and news updates.

Despite it’s many dangers, social media has a valuable place. I appreciate how it connects me with people. But I don’t need it all the time. This past week has shown me that my life isn’t any worse without constant updates. I don’t miss anything really important. I can still check these things and stay connected when I’m on my computer, but I don’t need it 24/7.

4. I feel more present.

This really is the main reason why I wanted to try a distraction free iPhone. I want to be more truly present around people I love, especially my family. I want my kids to know that they are more important than your Facebook update. I don’t want to be a slave to looking up whatever crosses my mind. I want to more fully engage in in-the-room relationships, and this is helping.

Will this last?

Good question. I don’t have any plans to go back. Interestingly, Jake Knapp (the author of the original post) just wrote an update, “My Year With the Distraction-Free iPhone,” and he’s sticking with it.

What do you think? Have you tried anything like this? If so, let me know.

 

Published by

Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since. In July of 2006, we welcomed a baby girl, Abby, into our family.

5 thoughts on “Lessons from One Week of a Distraction Free iPhone”

  1. Would I miss it if I didn’t have a phone connected to the internet? I like that my husband and I can sync our calendars. I like the idea of being distraction free!! That sounds kind of nice, but would I still use another device? Take off web browser too, so you can’t look up stuff on the internet. Even though I don’t have the apps I am still constantly checking Money Saving Mom on the internet because it has updates throughout the day. It is so freeing and I am more present when I plan to check email, etc…certain times of the day. But, when I say I’m only going to check them at certain times, I end up checking them more! I want to be more present. I am happier. I feel heavy-hearted when I am on my phone alot. I’ve been wanting to read Hands Free Mamma.

    1. Good thoughts. Our calendars still sync and I have access to apps that use internet, but not having the apps or the browser limits the things I go to most often to distract myself.

  2. Thought-provoking post, Luke, thanks for sharing. One thing that I do like about the apps is that I can check FB and zip through emails on my phone during the little free moments you mentioned — which means I’m less likely to spend so much time sucked into “catching up” on those things on the computer at home, when my children (and husband) are wanting my attention. It’s a trade-off and definitely hard to balance/control time spent on technology! I’ve enjoyed a book called The Winter of Our Disconnect about a mom who unplugs herself and her family and the lessons they learn.

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