Experiment 001: Turn my Smartphone Into a Tool

Half of the year has come and gone already and I feel like I have no idea where the time went! I wrote about my struggles with keeping up with two quarterly habits and my frustration with feeling like I was forcing myself to meet quotas and arbitrary goals. I'm still exploring and thinking about my changing philosophy about these experiments, but in a nutshell I'd rather try something out with no expectations and see what happens instead of setting myself up with goals and quotas and ideals only to fall short and feel like a constant failure. I'm not saying that all goal-setting or quotas are a bad thing, but in the context of my Year of Change experiment, they felt stifling and the wrong direction.

I want these experiments to simply be experiments. No expectations, no predefined goals or quotas or anything like that. I also want these to revolve around something that I personally feel like I need to work on in my life. I want to take a problem that I notice in my life (such as using my phone way too much) and try an experiment that I believe will help solve that problem in some way (for example, making my phone less likely to be used so often). Then I want to test it out and record the results and then come to a conclusion. Kind of like a science fair project for my life.

So, on with the experiments! First, I've decided not to list out all my experiments for the rest of the year. As I learned in the first half of 2019, it's better to give as much focus to one thing as possible in order to accomplish and learn more and avoid burnout. The experiments will be decided upon and announced when the previous one is coming to an end. A lot can change in a couple of months and I don't want to feel tied down or obligated to an experiment that may not be important or relevant in a couple of months.

For June and July, I'm going to experiment with using my smartphone as a tool instead of a portal for entertainment, shopping, and social media. I've swayed back and forth on the spectrum of phone usage. Sometimes I barely use it for more than contacting friends and family and looking up directions while other times I feel like my eyes are glued to the slab of glass and metal in my hand, searching the tiny glowing pixels for some meaning or some way to stave off the boredom for a few minutes. Currently, I've felt especially drawn to the glow of my smartphone with games, videos, and the endless scroll of social media.

Don't take this as a manifesto against smartphones or using a smartphone. This is not an anti-smartphone article or experiment. In fact, this might be an argument for using my smartphone better and really utilizing its (and my own) full potential.

I theorize that by removing the draw to unlock my phone 100+ times per day, I'll regain some of my attention span and find more time for writing and creative thinking. That's my hypothesis. I guess we'll see what happens after 2 months of using my smartphone only as a tool.

For this experiment, I'm going to see what happens if I delete or hide all the apps that pull me in and convince me to unlock my phone. This includes games, social media apps, news feeds, feed readers, video apps, and any other similar apps that I check mostly out of boredom.

I'm going to treat my smartphone as a tool instead of a toy (as put so eloquently by David Cain, who inspired this experiment with his own smartphone experiment). This means that my phone will still include apps such as a calendar, text messaging, phone calls, calculator, email, Slack (for work), a web browser, maps, and other apps that are simply utilities or that I don't open purely because of boredom. One example is my podcast app, since it provides entertainment and educational value at specific times and I only open it with the intention to listen to a podcast, not to mindlessly scroll through a feed or play a game.

I have no ideals, expectations, or quotas (other than the length of time I'll be trying this experiment). I don't have any goals in mind or things I want to learn. I'm sure I'll learn something and I aim to write about my experience after the experiment has come to an end. Beside those things, this is a simple life experiment. I'll wrap up the experiment at the end of July and write about my experiences sometime in early August. I'll also choose and announced my next experiment at that time, so stay tuned!

In other news, the Quiet Habits Podcast is slowly becoming a reality! I've recorded and edited most of the first episode. After it's ready to be published, it'll take a week or two to finalize, upload, and submit to all the podcast places. I'll write a new post here with links for your listening pleasure! I'm excited to share Quiet Habits on more platforms!

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