Cutting the Digital Leash - 2 Week Test
- Black & White Screen ONLY:
IPhone has a feature that allows you to change the screen to black and white, turning off the color. I am currently only using my IPhone in the Black and White mode to test as a constraint to excess screen time. It’s easy to reach for your phone when your bored, while waiting, while in traffic or any other time your attention can and is hijacked. While in the black and white format, spending anytime using any functions becomes less desirable. Testing for 2 weeks using the imbedded screen time tracker as a metric.
- Technology FAST (Cutting the Digital Leash):
I learned about this concept from Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Workweek and the host of The Tim Ferris’s Show Podcast. I don’t recall the specific episode or blog post that led me to try this, however, I found it to be intriguing. As a society we are connected 24/7 with little off grid / disconnected time . I decided to pursue a Technology Fast one day a week, thus cutting the digital leash. What is a Technology Fast? It is essentially the willful refrain from using technology, specifically my cell phone in my case. It is important to define technology for the purpose of my test and this post. Technology in this context represents the cell phone as used as a communications / web device. I started out doing my Technology Fast on Sunday, however, I moved it to Saturday’s to coincide with our Saturday Cheat Days (see Slow Carb Diet). I take Saturdays off from outgoing or incoming communication, except for IMMEDIATE family only (Wife, Kids Parents). No texting, No calls made or received, No emails checked and NO web surfing. The only use the phone gets on Cheat Day Saturdays is to document and chronicle meals at the various restaurants we visit on Saturdays. It has been wonderful to completely disconnect and not feel tethered to the world. It was difficult in the beginning to overcome the nervous habit of bored surfing and button pushing, however, I have come to enjoy the less stress and FOMO I feel from being disconnected.
*** NOTE *** - Since this post was originally written, I have moved back to Sundays as my Technology Fast day. My Technology Fast is cell phone specific and does NOT include other technology. I still use my desktop / laptop for weekly planning, scheduling, appointments and reminders. My phone still travels with me in the car, for emergency purposes, but remains in the car where ever we / I may end up. If its lunch / dinner with my wife on Sundays, the phone stays in the car.
- Turn OFF ALL Notifications:
This is something I have been doing for quite sometime. I went in to the settings and turned off all sound notifications and screen notifications on ALL Apps EXCEPT, voice calls, text messaging and reminders. Why those 3? The purpose of the 2 week experiment is to cut the digital leash, take back control and make the iPhone the COMMUNICATION tool it was intended to be. Calls, Text messages are ways to communicate, specifically with those you choose to communicate with. I don't want to miss important calls from those who are important to me, those calls / texts that can wait, wait. Reminders, well, the reason I set a reminder was because something was important enough not to forget, so use your reminders to make sure you don't forget, however, make sure it's truly important and something you need / must remember.
I also wanted to avoid the constant audible sounds or vibration feelings associated with notifications. I didn’t want to constantly be reacting as Pavlov’s dogs, but I wanted to feel a certain liberation and freedom associated with not having anxiety regarding the onscreen and sound notifications of trouble, stress, or work to be done. The freedom from and reduction of anxiety and stress have been well worth the test. Going beyond testing, this has now become practice. I wanted to begin taking back my life, disconnecting from the Digital Leash and begin using my phone for what it was intended, communication rather than social pavlovian reactions or career handcuffs. I also do NOT check specific work related emails on the weekends. I want my weekends to be a time of focusing on my wife, family, things I enjoy without being distracted by things that can not be addressed until Monday or later. In short, I want my attention bank account to be fully available to me for things I enjoy instead of things that cause me anxiety and concern.