Delete all apps that are designed to be checked over and over.
Put all other apps that could be checked over and over (finance, video streaming, shopping - believe me) inside folders, on screens behind the main screen. You should have to consciously look for them when you actually need them.
Don't sign in to any social sites in your browser, and don't let favorites or recents give you colorful icons for your frequented sites. Force yourself to type in the website you want to go to.
My home screen consists of music, direct communication, maps, notes/calendar/contacts, and the web browser. None of these can be idly checked except the web browser. They all encourage intentional interaction or none at all. Sometimes I open my phone subconsciously, look at the icons, and put it away again because there's nothing to be done.
i tweak my (iOS) spotlight settings to only search apps, which makes the whole flow as simple as:
- unlock phone
- swipe down anywhere on screen
- type first 2-3 letters of app name
- open app
this may seem subtle, but it’s been huge for me in reducing idle/wasted time on the phone.
It's undocumented but it wouldn't be hard to add. Essentially you blacklist a domain in the 3 dot menu (toolbar icon on desktop). Blacklisted sites will show a word and key-value pairs of letters and numbers, you have to add up the values for each letter in the word to unlock the page. You can change the word length in the options page, also in options you can set the extension to sleep for 5, 15, and 30 minutes when you want to disable it without having to later re-enable it.
Edit: The problem (at least for me) with all these kind of solutions is that you generally need a bypass method and that method usually becomes your standard way of bypassing your anti-procrastination mechanism.
I've had a couple false starts on doing a full write up answering this question but the quick answer is that it's not actually time consuming and that doing the puzzle feels like the easiest way to get to the page.
A lot of procrastination blocking apps take an abstinence based approach which predictably leads to just disabling them. Another approach - the approach my extension takes - is attacking the instant gratification that you can get to through unconscious action.
The unlock puzzle takes maybe 5-15 seconds to complete, I find that time switch of mental state is enough to cause a moment of pause and consideration for whether I want to continue browsing.
As you mentioned a bypass is necessary and I added that in the extensions option page. I find that since the puzzles themselves aren't actually hard I usually feel like it's easier to do them then navigate away from the page and back.
I think the important thing to note is this isn't intended to stop you from procrastinating when you want to procrastinate. The intent is to help you recognize when you're procrastinating unconsciously.
The idea was largely inspired by this xkcd blag post - https://blog.xkcd.com/2011/02/18/distraction-affliction-corr.... One thing I took out it was the idea that doing this action is part of a contract with myself that I don't have to feel bad about browsing as long as I do this step. That's not encoded into the extension and I'm not sure how important it is for how successful it has been for me.
If only that were easy. @here on slack and being cc'd on emails i really don't need to see makes that line frustratingly fuzzy.
Hard to do that with hacker news
For most of us, they easily soak up far more time than they save, capturing our attention dozens of times daily, and directing it to gratifying but mostly forgettable activities, usually infused with advertising.
I empathize. I just set up a new phone and was frustrated by all the unwanted notifications spammed at me from my OS and the latest versions of so many of my apps. It seems a lot worse than the last time I did this few years ago, and I'm constantly tweaking settings to stomp them out.
This began as a surgical exercise - usually I don't want to kill all the functionality, just turn off the specific alerts I don't care about. But it's gotten to the point I feel like I'm waging war against an ecosystem of developers intent to squander my attention without recognizing it's an incredibly scare and valuable resource.
Messenger in particular was so difficult to get to shut up that I just wound up removing all Facebook's apps. They're not the only offender. If you have an Android, go into App Info for Google Maps (edit: then tap Notifications) and look at the sheer volume of stuff it wants to nag you about.
Not sure if you are being deliberately glib, but yes, that is exactly what is going on. They know damn well that your attention is valuable -- to them -- and they know that it is limited, so they are in an arms race with each other to capture as much of it as possible.
Go to Settings
Search for notifications
Go to the specific app and turn off Badges
My normal routine is that turn them all off, then go back and turn on the specific ones I want. But it turn off the badges for virtually all of them.
This way I get avoid the distraction of group banter while still being able to be contacted directly when something more important comes up.
Mostly I'm just saying it's an interesting topic to think about, and that I'm glad to have a CEO who cares deeply about not making something that adds to this addiction situation.
I remember back in the day one of the biggest concerns was how we could prevent the Internet from becoming like TV. We clearly failed, at least for the popular use case.
The reason I have the XS was mainly because I wanted more screen space for things that fall in the “toys” category, things like hackernews, and I’m certainly looking forward to playing the Harry Potter Pokemon go. I also wanted the better camera to take better pictures of my newborn, that I share with our family in Tinybeans.
I don’t see a problem with that at all though. I did turn notifications off from everything except the e-mail where I get alerts. I use todoist, a todo app, to schedule a lot of things, but even that doesn’t allow to alert me, not even with a little red number on the app icon.
I suggests this to everyone. I did it at a suggestion of my personal-efficiency-coach, but once the apps stopped reminding me to open them, it instantly freed up hours of daily time. Now I check them when I want to, like right now, where the alternative to my smartphone is quite literally staring at the open train bathroom across me. This had the added advantage/side effect of making me realise what apps I didn’t actually want.
> staring at the open train bathroom across me
I have since found that this sort of time wasting is pretty powerful way to let creativity recharge. It’s like disengaging from screen let’s my mind work at it own rhythm.
Some article on HN talked about how books gave ways to that. It made you experience your own time. Other medium put just a tad too much disturbance (battery life, multi usage, parallelism) to let it grow deep.
I sit on folding seats in the conjunction between carts because I commute with my folding bike, and it’s just easier to sit out here, but I do think you’re absolutely spot on. I think “wasting” time is extremely valuable.
Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
At the very least you get to disconnect your brain. At best you come up with something awesome.
People use this to justify just about everything, like being addicted to World of Warcraft for 5 years and forgoing their ambitions to watch Netflix. It's a joke at this point.
It needs to come with a second part "but do your best to set yourself up for life fulfillment" or be refactored into "don't beat yourself up for wasting a little bit of time". Wasting time and instant gratification will absolutely keep you from achieving what you want in life.
Yeah, it's boring. I personally like taking this in as a bit of a challenge. See how boring it can get before I get my smartphone out.
Sometimes I do other things, like finger drumming on my leg. Trying to keep a rhythm. Or just wonder about materials the train is made up of.
The biggest issue I've had with micro-USB is that pocket crud and lint tends to gather in the socket, but it's very easy to pick out with one of those slim plastic toothpicks or a similar tool. Every device I've had where the USB socket became wonky, a bit of cleaning cleared it right up.
Micro-USB ports, on the other hand, just stop holding connectors, even after I cleaned the port.
If a micro-USB port doesn't seem to hold anymore, I would replace the cable first.
But after I did that, charging went from maybe to not a problem.
I moved from Android to the iOS ecosystem specifically to get the Lightning port. Wikipedia tells me that micro USB ports are rated to 10,000 cycles but in practice I've had to toss tablets because they won't hold a connector, and wiggle phones to get them to charge. With the iPhone connector never an issue and it just feels solid. Why is the design so much poorer?
So which phone does Apple make for people who don't want more screen space for toys then?
The XS is already a $250 premium to get a smaller screen than the XR.
As you point out, the iPhone 5 was plenty big for not playing games on. And the SE was fantastic, with the same processor and camera as the flagship 6s.
So naturally Apple killed that product line. Tim Cook talks big about Screen Time and giving people tools to manage their time, but the hardware team is working against us. They must not have got the memo.
1) No social media apps.
2) Four icons on the home screen (for iPhone, go to this site: https://david-smith.org/blank.html click share button and add to home screen. Change wallpaper to black. Each black icon you add to the home screen will take up a space where an app would have been, helping you focus on apps that you find most important)
3) Airplane mode when I’m on vacation (so I can still use the camera but won’t be tempted to reply to a text).
4) Few notifications other than calendar, phone, and text. Absolutely no email notifications. Selective and timed Slack notifications since I’m often mobile and don’t want to be the bottleneck at work.
5) No games.
6) Limited video use. Overuse hasn’t been a problem, so I don’t set hard guidelines on this.
7) Leave phone in car [clearly I don’t live in SF] or at home during scheduled time with loved ones.
8) Wear cellular Apple Watch and carry AirPods in pocket when leaving phone at home - if there may be an important call coming in while I’m intentionally preventing myself from working while mobile.
9) Keep phone charging at night in bathroom on do not disturb. No checking during middle of the night bathroom usage.
10) Limit non-essential apps to informational apps - like HN.
Smartphones are tools first or they can be toys first. That depends on the goals and discipline level of the user.
That's the main problem with it. Other places are obviously such nonsense that I'm not even tempted. HN has this quality where it tricks you into thinking (feeling?) that it might be worthwhile. And the worst thing is - it might be true. I have no idea, but I do know that it's by far my biggest time sink.
That's what they all say ;) It's like Blub (http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html), but for social networks.
For me the biggest issue when it comes to wasting time on my phone are the websites like reddit that I constantly go back to.
So far what kind of works for me is LeechBlock add-on where I blacklist time wasting websites and if I ever want to view them I can override the block for 5 minutes. I think the reason it works is that I need to consciously allocate those 5 minutes to waste (with this setup I can't just drift away for 1 hour looking through a subreddit).
I'd very welcome any other tips similar to the OP's.
I've tempted to start running my own email server again, and then develop a super simple UI where I organize email by sender and then convert important emails to a SMS message.
If it's important, they'll leave a message or E-mail, which you can check on your own schedule.
I used to always power off my phone at night, until one day at 2am I was in the middle of nowhere needing help from a friend, and he did actually answer the phone. He told me: "if it was the other way around, you wouldn't have helped me". For me it was a life saver, and I could totally see how harder would everything have been if he did like me every night (no one else to call at that moment, before that's asked).
Since then, my phone is kept on and unsilenced at night. If anyone important to me needs my help, I want to be there for them. Not that it's happened ever once in the last 10 years, though :)
Depends on your use-case. I use my phone to support my hobby, the Mode-s receiver in my attic sends an e-mail when an interesting aircraft arrives at the local airport.
So for me it's a notification tool that requires timely attention.
On the other hand it's not a toy, I don't have any games installed.
I can't say I use the full potential of the watch at all, but for the first time, notifications were what I feel like they should have always been - glanceable. When wearing the Apple Watch, the phone practically never vibrates or makes a sound, unless for an incoming call. I get a haptic "tap" on the wrist if a notification comes through (although I did stop a few apps from being able to send notifications) and it's enough to just look at the watch to bring it up.
If it's interesting, I can tell there and then. I can get my phone out or respond to it.
If it's not interesting, I can literally take no further action and just stop looking at the watch and after a few seconds the notification goes away.
It'll still be on my phone later if/when I want to go back to it, but I find myself looking at my phone a lot less often as a result. I can often go for hours without even taking it out of my pocket now.
3) With Airplane mode on while on vacation to take pictures, none of your pictures are getting sync’d. I have sync set up to iCloud, OneDrive, and Google Photos. If something happens to my phone, I’m SOL.
9) For that I would just use Do Not Disturb. If anyone is calling me in the middle of the night, it must be an emergency. In my case, as an only child, I only have three people that I’m concerned about enough to hear from in the middle of the night who don’t live with me - an older daughter, and my parents.
Smartphones are empowering, but they also present a change in our environment that we're not properly adapted to. The social lure that binds groups together is being hijacked by social apps because they tap into the same psychology. And they would have done so without the Facebooks of the world (in fact they did, with Usenet and BBSes and party phone lines and television and radio and so on).
We won't adapt quickly enough as a species to avoid being enraptured by social apps (except for a tiny minority), so we'll need an artificial solution to deal with it.
But emotionally, they hold little value compared to face to face interactions.
But with regards to learning and information, there's often much better we could do than social media - for example good books, or at least summaries of books, hold an order of magnitude more value than most social media.
But the way social media and the internet manipulated our attention, does make it harder for us to read those.
It's also arguably important for children, to get more insight into the minds behind the peers they know in real life-- without it, they could miss learning the traits of potentially vital communication channels (although I believe in monitoring and limiting screen time for nearly all humans).
I'm mostly playing devil's advocate here, though, because you are absolutely right as far as the current general dynamic goes. I believe our education & health systems must eventually teach young people how to have a healthier relationship with these new tools. They will probably use videos from our time period of kids walking into traffic while holding their phones as (one of many) cautionary tales.
Of course it is a matter of how you use it - with both smartphones and "real world".
And sometimes I want to jot down a quick note or create a new calendar reminder, not to be bombarded by "Check out the new features, Got It?" speech bubbles.
It's annoyances like this that make using my phone frustrating. It doesn't feel like a personal device that's under my control at all, it's something I reluctantly use and indeed look forward to working out of my life. I'm more attached to my 2nd hand laptop running Linux Mint, and for good reason.
I realize my mind is addicted to smart phones touch interfaces and applications and that phones are distracting me from reality. IE the haptic dopamine reward from touching the screen in combination with applications.
The experiment is what you will gain from having a simpler device which is focused on call first.
dpreview.com is my goto for comparing cameras. There are 7 different RX100's as Sony keeps upgrading it every year - mostly little things - more focus points, faster focus and light metering, higher frames per second... you really can't go wrong just buying the most expensive one in your budget, even the oldest ones will take great pictures -- they'll just be slower.
Also worth looking into, my favorite cameras are 'fixed prime' - there's no zoom so you have to be creative and zoom with your feet, and the lens is matched to the sensor and gives really surprising high quality shots without much effort.
Try that at an airshow!
I've been working on a similar project for a while, in order to see what the viability of reused Android hardware is if you make a minimal AOSP-based system. I'm trying to wean myself off of current-generation hardware as much as possible because honestly it's just not needed, and I don't want to feed the consumerist machine.
I'm using a Nexus 5 I bought used for $40, with the Nexus heavily underclocked for power usage and only the simplest required apps on it. The biggest problem I have had with this phone is that battery life on earlier smartphones is abysmal. I did replace the battery for $7 and it's made a big difference, but there's a level at which the old phone hardware just can't keep up with app bloat if you're using some newer applications.
For photos, even the old Nexus is fine for most use cases. For real photos,I just take along a used DX-sensor Nikon Coolpix A I bought on Craigslist.
• No push notifications (except for one human, and that too via SMS).
• No "social media" accounts (never had it on the phone to begin with; and removed my FB account 5+ years ago).
• Use gray scale (this turned my phone into a very peaceful device). On Android, this can only be enabled via the "Developer options" (and then select "Simulate color space" --> "Monochromacy")
• The "apps" on my phone are most practical ones: Maps, English & Dutch dictionaries, Orgzly (Org-Mode-based note taker), Spotify, Signal, WhatsApp, a couple of train look-up services, Firefox and an OTP generator.
This has been instrumental in making sure that my attention is not splintered all over the place. And lets me retain the ability to concentrate and read books in 2-hour, undistracted blocks. Go me!
Not an issue on the X style phones.
I believe that using any attention capturer for long periods is not healthy and should be avoided. The hard part for me is actually finding anything else to do in a new city without family/friends. Especially on a Tuesday night after work where it is less possible to go to a bar and talk to strangers.
 Smartphones can be included here.
Why? I assume you mean psychologically, not physically (which is more obvious why).
Frankly I just think that many of these things are simply addictive and, with an appeal to naturalism, I don't think it is what humans were meant to do. Increased smartphone use or TV watching or video games probably almost never results in increased happiness over the long term.
Not to mention the ability to use attention capturing as a way to hide from one's own emotions.
WhatsApp usage went down gradually, and not it is limited to early mornings or evenings. Messenger is rarely used (once in a couple months).
Instagram and Twitter for more social media marketing for our products than personal.
No games on phone at all. I have finally been very content with my phone as a tool for about 1.5 years or so.
Most used apps I think are Gmail (multiple accounts including products), then car pooling app, Slack and WhatsApp.
[Edit: added most used apps]
The dirty truth is app tool makers have been slow to adopt smartphones/portable screen as input devices as a dev tool. Apple refuses to put xcode on ipad and refuses to put a touchscreen on a mac(but have included that godawful POS touchbar), google hasn't made ANY real take the charge forays into a drag and drop android app creator and microsoft doesn't have a clue.Indie app creators aren't incentivised to make dev tools for smartphones because adoption is low since hardware/software makers are trying to artifically push a "phones are for play, laptops are for work" artifice(apple/google/microsoft).Ironically Samsung dex is an actual vision of a realistic phone as primary computing tool future but Apple is too focused on profits to adopt this paradigm.
The moment we see actual real "native mock to deployment" tools on mobile devices is the moment the distraction moniker will go kaput.
it's not that phones are distracting us from our work, it's that our whole world is on the phone, the social bits the communication bits and the entertainment bits - except for the bit of the world that deals with making things.
Oh, yeah, we do... :)
But it's not something I do to the exclusion of other things; it doesn't capture my attention for 10 minutes at a stretch; it doesn't interrupt my conversations or take their place.
It works okay. Needs more drivers. The issue with using phones as a tool isn't the phones theirselves its the surrounding infrastructure. If somebody wants a business idea how about selling phone compatible tools?
Check it out here:
Imo they have been designed from the ground up to be merely shiny toys / gadgets.
The most fundamental flaw in the design is the touchscreen. Eg. Press a button which is just part of the screen and has 0 haptic feedback, so the only way to locate it is by looking at it, but your finger is obscuring it (as you are moving to press it with your finger) so you cant see it. It is a paradoxical situation.
I suspect this to be one of those things we all think everyone else is doing but that very few people are actually doing in reality. Frankly, all time I spend on my phone is actually valuable, or at least not better spent doing anything else, and I think it's the same for most people.
Computers in the 70s might have been business machines, but families got them because kids wanted to play videogames
(Edit: keyboard mis-swipes)
Basically it sucks up notifications from all (or selected) apps into an inbox-like interface similar to email. You can check it when you want, but it's not in your face.
There are a lot of apps where I don't want to disable notifications, but I also don't want them interrupting me. NYTimes is a good example of that, since I do want to read the news but only on my own schedule. A notification inbox has helped me a lot.
The only time it would ring or get a message is if there's something important from my wife.
Google photos does exactly this.
Are there any phone manufacturers that still let you root without potentially bricking the phone etc?
I tend to eschew Twitter/Reddit and focus on podcasts, or binge a little Wikipedia waiting for the train.
I use the camera, document producing capabilities quite frequently in my work, in addition the regular features of loudspeaker conference calls (when Skype for Business fails) and so on.
I only take time to play with it, when I'm bored on plane rides.