Taking Control of My iPhones

I really enjoyed Bradley Chambers' post on how he "took control" of the technology that was starting to take control of him. I'm in a similar boat being tied to one or more iPhones on a regular basis.

The iPhone has made my life simpler and more streamlined in so many respects:

But it's also a very easy tooltoy to use to the exclusion of the people and tasks around me. I have found myself being annoyed by being interrupted "working" on my phone when really I need to be minding my real life.

To top all of this off, I have two iPhones: one work and one personal, though I have tended to use my personal phone for everything except conference calls1.

Bradley took these steps:

  • Email doesn't show badges and only downloads new messages when I open the app. Not only has this resulted in better battery life, but I've not missed out on anything important. If something is urgent, I will get a phone call or a text message.
  • No social media notifications (Twitter, Instagram, etc)
  • Slack is set to only push @replies
  • Do Not Disturb runs from 5:00 PM to 7:00 AM, but allows phone calls. This makes my iPhone act like an actual phone.

For me, I went a slightly different route:

  1. I asked my employer to upgrade my aging iPhone 4S to a new iPhone 6 Plus. It was up for the contract renewal price, so they did without much fuss.
  2. I removed every single thing work-related from my personal phone.2
  3. On my personal phone, I set my Do Not Disturb to 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM, but allowing phone calls.
  4. On my work phone, I set my Do Not Disturb to 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM, but allowing phone calls from my contacts only.
  5. I leave my work phone in the basement on my desk when I am doing things around the house, as well as most nights overnight.3
  6. I removed nearly every push notification and badge from my personal phone. I still let my personal email alert me, but only silently. I do let my work email notify me on my work phone, but hten it's not always on me, so this matters far less.

So far, despite being in love with the display on the 6 Plus4 and compelled to look at it just because it's so pretty, I have found myself less electronically engaged and more personally engaged, even in the last week since making these changes.

I expect I'll find more ways to make this work as time goes on. I'm not ready to go away from push email just yet, but it may come soon enough.

NB: One negative side-effect, if you could call it that, is that since I'm pulling out my personal phone from my pocket far less than before, I get very far behind on twitter. I am typically a twitter completionist, and rely on twitter to keep me updated on current events, so this means I'm usually about 24 hours out of touch.

I don't know if I care to do anything about this, honestly...

  1. I use about two dozen minutes a month on my personal line, but working remotely means that I use a few hundred minutes a month for work calls, even if almost all of them are otherwise “toll-free”, a concept that has become ridiculous now.

  2. I now almost never run out of battery. It’s incredible.

  3. This is the most critical change. By leaving my phone somewhere I am not, I am simply not bothered by alerts.

  4. Which is, to be pragmatic, far too big to be a useful “phone”, but is a fantastic piece of hardware otherwise.

Dec 18th, 2014