Why I love my 'stupid' phone.


I am not a Luddite. I'll be the first to admit that I love Spotify, WhatsApp, and my Seconds Pro exercise app. But I am also a big proponent of being disciplined and deliberate when it comes to digital technologies.

In fact, as a productivity coach, I'll frequently start by getting my clients "digitally unhooked." We'll spend a few sessions creating distance between my new client and his/her phone through various personalized systems and habits. Time and time again, the results are astounding: no matter what my client does for a living, once the phone has been tamed, productivity goes up and anxiety melts away.

This HBR article confirms my experience. Silent mode is not enough. The key is to put your phone in a different room when you're trying to do real, substantive work.

I've even taken it a step further. For about two years now, I have been using an old-school cell phone (or what I lovingly refer to as my "stupid phone"). It's the kind of phone where you have to type each individual letter for each individual word. Needless to say, my reflexive messaging has done down dramatically. I keep my smartphone for music, messaging, and my favorite apps, but I store it in a drawer upstairs in a different room. I only use it for a specific task (and I get some exercise to boot since I have to walk up the stairs to get it). On top of that, I got an alarm clock, so I don't need my phone next to my bed any longer. And I've started using a spiral notebook and a pen to keep track of my ideas and my to-do lists. Recently, I resurrected my digital camera.

Reverting back to paper and pen, having two separate cell phones, an alarm clock and a camera might seem a little excessive to some, but in my case, these slight modifications have had a profound impact on my personal and professional life. I am way more focused, present and mindful  I've been in a long time.

Do you have any hacks or techniques that have helped you free yourself from the grip of your smartphone? I'd love to hear them!