The Smartphone is a Tool
“I’m giving up my smartphone!” somebody will defiantly say as they are striving to live a simple life. And while I don’t disagree that a smartphone can be a huge negative influence on your life, it can also be a great simplicity enhancer.
The smartphone is a tool. Just like any other tool, how you choose to you use it will determine the power that it has.
That Time I Gave Up My Smartphone
I did it too. I gave up my smartphone in an effort to simplify my life.
This was a few years back, when I had recognized that I was spending way too much time on my phone looking through various social media apps and websites. I thought that clearly this mini-computer in my pocket was sucking away my attention, and it had to go!
The first few days without my smartphone were interesting. The first thing that hit me was just how much time I spent on my phone. I felt incredibly bored. My iPhone used to be my anti-boredom device that filled any down minute of my time.
My life also felt simpler for the first few days well. Despite the boredom, I didn’t feel attached to a device. It felt good. I was able to focus on what was in front of me, and take in the world more attentively.
Then after a week or so, my opinion of a simple smartphone-free world began changing. Let me check my bank account account quick… oh wait. Maybe I can pull up the weather radar before my run… nope. My music? Going to need to go buy an iPod for that.
Life became less simple all of the sudden.
How a Smartphone Is a Simple Living Tool
The smartphone itself is an incredible tool. It’s essentially a computer in your pocket, with access to all of the information of the internet. The ultimate communication and productivity device. It’s a tool.
It’s the epitome of doing more with less.
- GPS-enabled map
- music player
- internet browser
- and countless more functions with apps
Even if you only need a third of it’s functions, why would anybody striving to live a simple life not embrace one? The problem is not the smartphone itself.
How to Make a Smartphone Simple
Change Your Approach – This is the most important “how-to” in terms of having responsible smartphone usage. Think of your smartphone as a tool, and not a source of entertainment. If you can successfully make that mental shift, your smartphone will be a great asset in your life.
Limit Your App Downloads – You don’t need Instragram, Facebook, or the latest app on your phone for it to be a simple living tool. So don’t install the apps. By leaving time wasting apps off your phone, you’ll start to rewire your brain to stop phantom checking for social updates.
Turn Off Most Notifications – The only apps on my phone that are allowed to send notifications are phone calls and text messages. Every other apps requires that I open them individually in order to view updates. Doing this allows you to still receive important communications from family and friends, while not interrupting your focus with miscellaneous apps.
Upgrade on Need, Not Want – If you view a smartphone as a status symbol and/or an entertainment device, you’ll probably fall into the trap of always wanting a new one. If you see it as a tool though, you’ll quickly learn that the latest phones don’t have much more to offer.
Leave it Alone – More recently I have begun to leave my phone plugged in by my nightstand when I’m around the house. If I’m at home with my wife and daughter, chances are I don’t need to do anything on my smartphone. I make them my focus.