I have a full time job as the Chief Ambassador of Yoga Alliance, consult for multiple tech companies, and own 2 businesses, a suburban yoga studio and a Boston based Yoga Teacher Training Program. On top of this my family was just blessed with our second child and we bought our first house 4 days prior. To say the least being productive and effective is essential for me. And hands down the best thing I ever did for increasing my productivity over the last year has been switching from a smartphone to a dumbphone.
I’m a big believer in making goals and visions and the importance of writing them down. So the other day when I was cleaning out my office I wasn’t surprised when I found an old list of goals I had made back in 2014. One of them said, “2 year plan to get rid of smart phone.” Amazingly (without an actual plan, but more of a constant desire) that is exactly what I did beginning Christmas of 2016.
The idea of giving up my smart phone was actually inspired by Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. I’m a big fan and whenever they panned to Kraft at a Patriots game I noticed that he didn’t use a smart phone but a clam-shell (aka flip-phone). I was intrigued that such a powerful and successful person would forego such a useful technology. In the summer of 2014 I took on a private yoga client named Jon who was also a successful business man and noticed he too used a clam shell phone!
Side Bar: Famous Successful People who don’t use a smartphone
- Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone Group. Nokia 6350
- Jerry Jones, Owner of the Dallas Cowboys
- Bill DeBlasio, Mayor NYC. Old and Battered Samsung
- Chuck Schumer, NY state Senator, LG Flip
- Warren Buffet
In that moment, I, a pseudo tech junkie, began growing a sneaking suspicion that these smart phones weren’t such a wise idea. But oh how I loved my smartphone. I loved scrolling through my twitter feed, reading articles, watching videos and listening to podcasts. My whole life was managed through the iCal app.
The tipping point was baby number 2. When Tobey Harris Tanner was born, along with the purchase of our first home, and everything else going on in my personal life, the stress was overwhelming. Combine this with the most intriguing presidential election of my life time and I became information obsessed. To combat the stress of my life I turned to my precious smart phone… Every article, video, text, and email was a precious dopamine hit that I craved. My iPhone became… [read the next part with a Gollum voice] “my precious.”
I found myself staying up until 1am in the morning regularly. Sometimes 3am or 4am just reading articles, or comic books, or listening to podcasts. I realized I had occasionally been doing this for the last decade with every smart device I’ve ever owned however now it was on another level. It was every night, and my work, body, and relationships were suffering. Oddly I spent hours and hours researching dumb phones, or feature phones to be polite. I knew that this thing was killing me but I couldn’t cut the chord.
All the self-perceived benefits of my smartphone became a prison, so I set out and made a list of all the ways my daily life could improve without one.
Benefits of No Smartphone:
- Increased feelings of spaciousness and freedom
- Feeling less busy
- Easier to sleep and go to bed earlier
- More productivity*
- More focus on Type 2 projects.
- You choose when to do email
- Less Distraction
- Noticing nature and people more
- More presence with family and friends
- Less connected to all the shitty news
- Deeper meditation and feeling of general mindfulness.
- Less reactive in general
- No more eye-strain or frontal cortex headaches.
*requires you to have an effective time-mgmt system. I am partial to Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
So how exactly did I manage to ween myself off this "essential" device? You'll have to wait until Part 2 to learn how I made it work. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from others who have been wanting to or have successfully simplified their communication devices.