TL;DR: If you’ve read previous posts this month, you new I’ve been applying Cal Newport’s digital detox (covered here and here). For those just looking for the short version, here it is: I don’t have a desire to add much back to my phone and no I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.
In the last post, I gave a pretty long list of how things were feeling about halfway through the experience. In this post, I may recap some of it but the rest of all of this is going to be new.
I’d rather share things that have happened since then, or since the beginning, than rehash anything I’ve already written. So if you’re looking to catch-up, here are the posts:
And now, for the rest of it.
Digital Minimalism, Update 2
During this time, I used the Screen Time feature of my phone, the Sleep tracking on my Apple Watch, and the Fitness app on my phone in conjunction with my Watch to derive the following:
- On average, I decreased my phone usage to 1.5 hours a day. The majority of the time that my was phone was being used was when listening to podcasts or listening to music. Some of this time was skewed because of using apps like Maps or something similar. But on the whole, it’s approximately a 40% decrease in usage.
- I increased the amount of sleep I was getting by about one hour. Specifically, I went from 6 hours and 36 minutes to 7 hours and 36 minutes asleep. This average does include a few nights that were around six hours or even five hours in the last month so you can see, by numbers alone, I still came out better.
- On average, I increased the number of minutes of exercise by almost a factor of two by averaging 40 minutes a day (also resulting in burning more calories over the month). Further, I incorporated a variety of different workouts but I’ll share this more later.
- Though I’m not a fan of counting the number of books read in a set unit of a time (we read at different speeds, book lengths are varied, etc.), I’ll share that I almost finished five books in the month. I’ve not quite finished but I should within the week. I will say, however, that I figured out a way to balance reading fiction and non-fiction simultaneously which I’ve never been able to adequately do. That’s a plus.
So those are the numbers, but what about the experience of actually not having anything on my phone?
To put it simply, life feels more calm and I feel more focused.
🐦 Social Media
I still have guardrails up for social media usage when I’m at my desk (like it’s okay to use Twitter every now and then but I don’t check it as much as I once did). I don’t know what to make of Instagram at this point.
And since those are the two primary social networks I use, I’ll say this: For a person growing up in a generation who has been able to TiVo and/or stream since they graduated college, I didn’t realize how many commercials I was seeing again.
I feel the absence of not having something thrown in my face every few videos or few tweets and I do not miss it.
The people who I tend to speak with regularly via Twitter I still do but, and I was what would happen regarding this, people whom I truly enjoy talking with found other avenues of getting in touch (or I reached out to them, just to be clear I don’t expect anything to come to me 🙂).
The people who I enjoy talking with know how to reach me and do and those who don’t either speak with me casually via email or Twitter.
Over the years, I’ve shared various posts around fitness and what I enjoy doing. All in all, running has been my primary go to but thanks to some gift cards from Christmas and my appreciation for the Nintendo Switch, I decided to give Ring Fit Adventure a try.
This isn’t a review blog, but I really like it even as someone who’s relatively active given a sedentary job. If you like games and want to use modern technology to get in shape without going to a gym, check it out.
Further, I spent more time with my kids outside. Normally, in the summer, it’s not at all uncommon for us to be out late playing catch, playing basketball (not that I’m good at it!), kicking the soccer ball with our youngest, or just generally being outside.
But even when it’s cold or getting darker early, we were hanging around outside.
Over the course of the month, the kids and I spent more time also playing video games like Super Mario World 3D and Mario Party Superstars. My oldest two love Breath of the Wild and while one of them has beaten it, she’s working on completing much of the DLC.
My other is still working her way through the shrine quests. Being able to sit and share that with them – even if we weren’t playing the same time all the time – was really neat. It’s fun to have shared hobbies with your kids.
As far as my wife and I are concerned, we listened to more music, she was subject to listening to me play more music on my guitars 🙃, and we watched a few more shows together that we’ve not “had the time to do” but ended up having some time to do.
Further, I spent more time talking with other members of my extended by, wait for it, phone calls and FaceTime. And they were really good conversations.
One of the things that we’ve become accustomed to is getting our news and getting it now, no matter how broken or twisted it is. Or maybe that was just me though I’m not willing to concede the point given how many of you tweet your thoughts, links, and opinions on literally anything related to the news.
But when you’re forced not to read the news until the next day, you get a bigger picture of the story. That is, it’s not about a quick video, soundbites, or something to stimulate your brain and aggravate your emotion. Instead, you get multiple outlets reporting on it – albeit in different ways – but there is more coverage and a a broader perspective on something versus whoever is first to get the headline.
🎸 Guitar + Writing
I expected and hoped to spend more time playing the guitar during this month, and I did, but I also spent more time trying to write music. And though I don’t have a full song to show for it, I’ve plenty of fragments recorded on my phone and written in notebooks that may one day come into fruition.
One thing I did not see coming, though, was inspiration for a short story. I’ve no aspirations to be a writer or write a novel or anything like that, but I love reading as much as the next person. And given the amount of words that I’ve put into this article alone, I think it’s fair to say that I like to write, too. 🙂
So I have a main character, time period, and potential challenge that the character must undergo or must share with the reader but nothing much more than that. Here’s the thing, though: I’m not devoting a lot of time to trying to sit and think about it. If I get an idea, I write it down and keep going on with whatever I’m working on. If enough dots manifest themselves on the page, I’ll try to connect them.
I wish this would happen with music, though, too. 🙃
The End Result
I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things I wanted to talk about, but that’s okay. If it’s not important enough to be in the forefront of my mind while writing this, it’s probably not important enough to cover anyway.
The first question I think many people are curious about on this topic, at least in the stuff that I’ve read in books and related articles, is what it feels like to reinstall applications again.
The truth is, I don’t know. I’ve no desire to reinstall social applications or news applications at the moment. Instead, the only things I plan to reinstall are:
- An app for tracking the shows and movies I want to watch,
- Apps for managing finances,
- Apps for productivity such as Things and Deliveries
Nothing else comes to mind at the moment. But there’s something deeper than what do I want to reinstall?
♥️ On Values
And one thing I think is important to state is that I think there’s a sense of what I initially thought might have been apathy. And the reason that I find it worth mentioning is because apathy carries with it a sense of callousness in saying “I don’t care about [that]” whatever that may be.
But that’s backwards.
We don’t live in a hyper-connected generation that likes, or is comfortable saying, “I don’t care.” And I get it. The thing is, I don’t know if I ever really cared about certain things so much as I was filling time paying attention to them. It was simply something to do. It was vacuous, though.
Instead, it’s that I do care.
I care very much about the things for which I have set of values. Further, I’ve been able to foster a deeper sense of focus and appreciation of said values. I’d go as far as even saying I’m developing values in a few areas that were latent and unable to grow because they were being stymied by things I was focused on that weren’t providing any sense of growth.
🎬 The End
So that’s where this ends, for now at least: Installing a few productivity apps, apps for tracking media that I’m interested in watching, and managing finances.
Time feels slower, values are deeper, focus is increased, relationships are stronger, frustration is decreased, sleep and exercise are better, conversations are of higher quality, reading is significantly a higher priority, inspiration is at al all time high, and my general disposition is better.
The pros absolutely outweigh the cons. If you opt to do this, good luck – the first week is probably the weirdest. And even if you don’t choose to share, I think it’s worth a try.
📝 I’m writing a series about using Ray in WordPress so if you’re interested in reading something in-depth that may benefit you as a developer, don’t forget to check it out.