What I Learned by Deleting Pretty Much Every App on my Phone

There was some FOMO involved

If the thought of losing Instagram or Snapchat makes your palms sweaty, or your knees weak, just dip your toes in the water and turn off notifications for these apps.

Often disabling notifications is the first step. That’s how I started, I used to aimlessly scroll through meme accounts and sports highlights whenever I had a spare moment. On the train, in bed, in the bathroom, sometimes I would zone out while I was having dinner with my parents.

That’s when I realized that I should probably get rid of these things since they were interfering with not only my sleep and productivity but also my relationships with friends and family.

After purging my phone of apps that were less utilitarian and more of a distraction I realized a couple of things.

You can live without it

Imagine a world without apps, smartphones, computers or *GASP* the internet. How we would do things, how would we communicate, how would I see all of Ryan Reynold’s amazing tweets?

Canada’s golden boy Vancity Reynolds

This realization dawned on me while sitting in the bathroom (sans phone) pondering life, and that’s when I began to wonder about what people did in their outhouses before phones.

Now for all the people out there who are much smarter than me (more than I care to admit), you’ve probably already realized that our smartphones, internet and everything else are recently new inventions when you zoom out on the timeline of human history.

So if everyone in history up until our new technology age was able to survive without a phone, I probably can too, right?

You’re more attentive

I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimetre; there’s also beauty in smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colours in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the colour.
- Richard Feynman

The world is an amazing place, now in my head, I knew that and on some level, a lot of us realize that our little blue dot is a pretty spectacular place.

It was only after putting down my phone that I realized how true that was.

Even the most mundane things, like riding the train were suddenly transformed. Here I was sitting on a locomotive based on hundreds of years of technology, cruising along on tracks that had been laid down by hundreds if not thousands of workers, with the world outside whizzing by at blinding speeds while I comfortably sit and read while a team of operators and controllers makes sure I get to my destination safe and on time.

To someone two centuries ago that would have sounded like science fiction, or more likely witchcraft.

The mundane can be a magical thing.

More things got done

Now, this probably the most obvious benefit of looking at your phone less, more stuff gets done. It might be finally wrapping up that project or cleaning out your closet like you said you would last year.

I am an advocate of using your phone to get things done, for communicating with others, and all the amazing benefits that our phones bestow upon us. But, when I’ve spent the last 15 minutes aimlessly watching Snapchat stories or scrolling through LinkedIn, that means I’ve lost 15 minutes somewhere else in my day.

By getting rid of all the apps that I viewed as a time suck, I spend less time on my phone and more time doing the things I promised myself I would do.

That meant I could spend an extra 15 minutes sipping tea with my mum in the morning. Which was a lot more rewarding than finding out what Kylie Jenner got up to last night.

You’re not missing out on much

One of the reasons why it’s so hard to ditch our social media apps is the dreaded FOMO. We might miss what our friends did for brunch, or what Trump tweeted or 1000 other things that are vying for our attention.

The truth that I realized is people are mostly just doing the same things as me, except they would document it with boomerangs, stories and tweets.

There are those of you out there who might turn your faces up at the thought of missing the latest news from various outlets, how could you go on without the news? Pretty easy, you just do.

Thanks to embracing a low information diet, combined with some insight regarding why we watch the news, I made the decision to simply stop watching, or reading news (for the most part). Since there will always be other people who devour the news, I simply just ask them:

“What’s going on these days?”

Getting over that FOMO will often lead you to greener pastures.

I stared at screens less

This one was a little bit of a shock to me, to be honest. I found myself watching less TV, and deciding to go for more walks, even opting for some night time reading instead of watching another episode of The Office.

I still don’t fully understand why this change happened, and it might be temporary or anecdotal.

I’ve even found myself without my phone while running errands or out with friends, in the past, this might have resulted in an elevated heart rate combined with a frantically checking my pockets, and scanning the surrounding area. That has since been replaced with a simple acknowledgement that it’s probably at home anyways.

Conclusion

Screenshot of my current phone setup, I still have apps, they all just live in one folder where they are less likely to distract me.

I’m not proposing some sort of revolution against the app, or the phone, they are both amazing tools that help millions of people all around the world with millions of tasks.

I regularly listen to podcasts, keep up with my fantasy basketball team, check my calendar and plan out the weekend with friends all thanks to the apps on my phone.

I am simply proposing an evaluation of our phone habits, and maybe deleting the apps from your phone isn’t the answer. Find what works for you and never stop experimenting.


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