One Device to Rule Them All: Rethinking My Smartphone Use

I blame Steve Jobs for this. In 2007, he announced the arrival of the one device that would eventually rule our lives: the iPhone (that’s simply smartphone for us, non-Apple fans :D)

Watch the excerpt of his introduction below and witness the genesis of the smartphone’s dominance of our waking hours.

Tech history can probably be divided neatly Before iPhone (Bi) and After iPhone (Ai). In Bi era, we had separate devices doing separate things:

  • A phone for calling and texting. We now call these remnants the dumbphones, or the not-smart phones.
  • iPod or MP3 player for playing music. iPod is definitely the gold standard of music player devices. It eclipsed all other music players such as Zune, the iconic Sony Walkman and CD Walkman, as well as all other portable music players.
  • Personal Computer or Laptop for typing, writing, and overall computing for the office and personal use.

I didn’t mean for this to be a post on the history of personal and mobile computing.

Lately however, I have been thinking about my technology use.

I have often found myself itching to check my mobile phone out of sheer habit. I wasn’t waiting for a call or text, or a message from anybody. Perhaps, I only needed that assurance that my phone is with me, within reach. A little too similar with Linus’ security blanket.

Our mobile phones have become extremely addictive.

They have become a distraction–from work and productivity, from meaningful face-to-face interactions, and from solitude and meditation. I confess that I haven’t been meditating for a time now. Heck, even when I am in nature, I find myself tinkering with my phone instead of enjoying and breathing in each beautiful moment.

So I am stepping back by limiting the capacity of my mobile phone, and getting simpler, multiple devices for each function I need.

Kindle Paperwhite and Physical books for reading

The Kindle is a humble, but powerful device. When I am traveling, it can store hundreds of books that I can access on a plane or on a bus. In the past 2 years, I have also found myself reading printed, physical books. I love the process of highlighting passages and writing notes on the margins of the pages.

Mobile phone for calls & messaging (SMS, messenger); and audio needs (music, podcasts, & audiobooks)

I thought about getting an old iPod nano and reactivating my iTunes account so I could listen to podcasts. But I decided against it. Instead, I will remove all unnecessary apps. All that remains will be important for the phone’s functions and for calls, messaging, and listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks.

And yes, this includes removing Facebook and Twitter on my mobile phone! Because we have a baby at home, and baby = hundreds of photos, I am not removing Instagram! That’s one concession I am willing to make. Besides, I don’t want to be carrying a standalone camera all the time!

Lenovo Tab or Laptop for writing, web browsing, and computing needs

I have a Lenovo tablet and a Dell laptop for all my writing, browsing, and computing needs. The computer I want costs about $2,000 and I cannot afford it right now. But what I have now works and will continue to do so in the near future.

Is it worth it?

What I am doing here is to remove the pressure on my willpower and decision-making ability. I am tweaking my devices to free up mental space for thinking, writing, and deeper focus on the things that matter most.

So I will try this personal tech configuration for 30 days and see what happens.

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