Cellphones suck the Life from the Moment

Notifications ask for a quick glance. Coworkers want you to drop everything else to help them. Passing thoughts beg for your focus.

One’s focus & time are both precious and fleeting. Regain them by changing your surroundings, starting with that pocket computer.

Disable notifications

Those little icons serve to remind you that something needs your attention. More times than not, it can wait. Except you want to check it. Maybe it bugs you to have a little red bubble telling you how many social interactions you haven’t seen. Maybe it’s a ding sound that triggers a physical response to reach for your phone. How Pavlovian!

More times than not, notifications distract from something more important. They’re ways for phone applications to reach out to let you know something new has happened. And more times than not, that something is absolutely insignificant.

Message notifications and calendar events might be great to have sent to you, but consider disabling those as well. Check your calendar before you leave the office and first thing in the morning. Plot your day ahead of time and you don’t have to rely on your notifications to dictate your time. Regarding messages, I usually look to see who the message is from without opening the messaging app, so to leave the notification up to flag it for follow-up later. If it’s time-sensitive or someone important (eg wife), I’ll text back. Otherwise, it can wait. You should also do your part of telling friends & training coworkers that if something is important, CALL.

The sound of silence

Worse than visual reminders, jingles from our pocket grab attention from across a room. Keep it on silent/vibrate.

The concept of not being immediately available to anyone’s whim is something that you might struggle with, initially, and others might even think you’re being rude or shirking responsibility. Assure any concerned parties that you’re practicing mindfulness by focusing on what’s in front of you: your home, or your work, and trying to not get distracted by your phone. It’s hard for anyone to be upset when you explain that you’re trying to be more present.

Optional hard mode: disable vibrate. You’re practically off the grid!

Other ideas that I’m too tired to write in-depth about

  • Wear a watch. Seriously. No more glancing at your phone for the time.
  • Put it face-down and out of site. Especially at home! By keeping it on your person, you’re that much more likely to find yourself starting at it
  • Delete your app shortcuts. Make it as inconvenient as possible to engage on your phone.

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