Opting Out: Smartphones

Those who know me in real life know that I constantly bring up the idea of getting rid of my smartphone. My company actually pays for my phone and when I am traveling for work, I absolutely do need it. But I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a non-smart phone for my daily use and just turning the smart phone on when I am traveling.

I have not done this yet. I would make an intention to trying to use my phone less and fail — and this was a cycle that repeated over and over. I wasn’t quite ready to drop my phone altogether for three main reasons: 1) How would I take photos? 2) How would I figure out how to get anywhere? 3) How would I keep in contact with my loved ones (whom I mostly communicate with via text).

So what I did was starting deleting apps from my phone. Yup. I went through and deleted every app I didn’t absolutely need. Even Safari. I didn’t even know you could delete Safari! But that, on its own, reduced my smartphone usage each day by probably 60%. I had two apps left that had some level of search and interaction component — the first was google maps and the second was Instagram.

I have about six Instagram friends, and I really use the platform as more of a photo scrapbook. But all of a sudden I was spending 10 minutes at a time on Instagram explore – or searching hashtags. So I deleted Instagram.

And now, I am honestly finding myself using my phone just for navigation, photos, and texting. The cognitive load of my phone has greatly reduced — and it has, once again, become a tool that is serving me. And honestly, I don’t miss having Safari on my phone at all. Not at all. It makes me feel free.

A Work Uniform

A few years ago, I found a perfect clothing item while thrift shopping. It was a black tunic, made of wool, but with a very loose knit. Sleeveless, it hit around mid-thigh and looked elegant and classy with a simple pair of leggings.

I started wearing this tunic to work every week, then twice a week, then more days a week than I wanted to admit. I hunted in vain for this tunic online but could never find anything by the maker that was even somewhat similar.

I already had a vision — to have THREE work tunics – and then to wear them every day of winter. Never again would I have to struggle to get dressed for work. Never again would I have to wear “work pants.”

Eventually, I did find a few other tunics that were similar. All were wool, two have full sleeves, the third is sleeveless. So now, I have four work tunics. Getting dressed in the morning takes me approximately three minutes because all I have to decide is sleeves or no sleeves and how thick I want my leggings to be.

Opting out of work clothes — inspiration for them, shopping for them, trying them on, returning them, etc, etc, – has been a real joy for me this winter.

Interestingly, only one person in my office ever realized I was wearing the same clothes daily, and this was after I had the work uniform in place for over a month.

Opting Out: Podcasts

Unconsciously over the last year, I have been seeing what I can opt-out of without incident. After the election in 2016, I got really into podcasts. Partly as a way to escape the insane news, but partly as a way to help me digest it via all the great new political podcasts that emerged. A few months ago, I removed the podcast app from my phone. Now, if I’m on a delayed train or taking a lunch time walk, there’s nothing on my phone for me to listen to (and I don’t carry headphones anyway).

If I want to listen to a podcast now, I have to be at home, open my laptop, and consciously choose one. This has been great because there is a level of intention that I have towards podcasts now where I only listen if I am genuinely engaged.

Podcasts I still listen to include:

  • Call Your Girlfriend — two long-distance besties chat about their lives and their news. Feminist and powerful, it feels like being at brunch with your own best friends.
  • On Being – this was the first podcast I ever listened to. Interviews about life and spirituality. I love listening to the unedited cut so I get a whole sense of the interview. They also have a wonderful blog.
  • This American Life – always a classic. I avoid the sad episodes but there is a such a great archive here that I can almost always find something great.

And that’s it. Contrary to feeling deprived, I feel free from podcasts.