Taking Control of My iPhone

My first iPhone was the iPhone 3G. I then went to the iPhone 4, 4s, 5, and now the iPhone 6. The iPhone is a magical device. Let's list all the practical things it can do:

  1. GPS enabled maps
  2. An incredible camera that is always available
  3. Mobile media player with access to a lifetime of content (music, book, movies, etc)

That's just the three I came up with in ten seconds of brainstorming. It can do a ton more. It's literally a portable computer in your pocket. It's more powerful than the PC I had in college in 2002. Do you know what the problem is with a portable computer in your pocket? You have a portable computer in your pocket. It's begging to be fed. It wants your attention. With every notifications and vibration, it's an opportunity to be distracted. Up until a few weeks ago, I was all in on notifications. This included Twitter, Email, Slack, etc. It was too much.

The problem with notifications is we are thinking there is going to be something we are going to miss. "I've got to check that email. It might be Tim Cook emailing me to get some advice on Apple's latest product". Let's be honest: how many notification have you gotten in the past year that required immediate action? I'd bet that for 99% of us, it's 0.

Here is what I've done to take control of my iPhone:

  • 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.

These small changes have resulted in me feeling less attached to my phone. It can stay in my pocket for hours without a single vibration. I can pull it out to take a photo without seeing pages of notifications. I check in with email and social media when it's convenient for me. Technology is supposed to be an enabler. For many of us, it has become a chain. This is my attempt to reverse that.