A little over two months. About 1/6 of the year. That was the length of my DLAE (digital life adjustment experiment). You can read about it in the entries above. Synopsis: I boxed my iPhone 5 for two months and used a dumb phone during that time to unplug, regroup, and implement some new processes in life about how I related with my phone.

I mentioned in the last entry about the DLAE that I was preparing for reentry. On Monday of this week, I made the switch and reactivated my iPhone. Several folks in the office and about town made comments like, “Whoa! What’s that?!” or “Give up?”

Here’s why I reactivated:

In short, it’s 3 Cs:

  • Calendar: Using a dumb phone was not helpful for keeping up with meetings and planning. Nor could I create new appointments when I was out and about (and without my iPad). It was not helpful not being able to view my calendar.
  • Contacts: The iPhone is wonderful when synced with iCloud for keeping up with thousands of contacts. It’s my database. However, entering all those contacts on a dumb phone would have been an impossible and time wasting task. I need access to a wide variety of contacts – church members, friends, etc. Getting phone calls or texts from just “numbers” was frustrating.
  • Convenience. Dumb phones are dumb for a reason. Nothing against them. However, I found myself spending a lot of unnecessary button punching just return a phone call. The beautiful thing about smart phones is how intuitive they are for simple functions.

Here’s how my DLAE will continue to influence my iPhone usage:

I am retaining the disciplines of not checking social media on my phone unless it’s in my down time. Likewise with games, and other apps. In the iPhone, you can go to Settings > General > Cellular and turn off cellular data. I’ve been doing that, and it prevents me from getting distracting text messages during focused times of work. (If I’m on the Macbook, I have the Messages app open, and if it’s urgent, I can respond there.) Turning of cellular data not only saves me data usage overall, but it also is an effective deterrent to unnecessary time wasting on social media when I’m not on WIFI.

In short:

  • Use social media only in down time and when I’m being intentional with it.
  • Respond to text messages only 2-3 times a day. Same with email. I structure time each morning to respond to emails, and then I try to respond in the afternoon to anything that may be urgent or that might be holding up someone else’s productivity.
  • Remember that my iPhone is for my convenience, not for other people to keep me on a chain or to expect that I answer them immediately. That may sound rude, but if you liken people’s phones to leashes, we really do have unrealistic (and demanding) expectations about how others should respond to us when we want them to.

The last two months with a dumb phone have been revealing and instructive. I’d highly recommend anyone to go at least a month without a smart phone each year to ensure that you’re in charge and not your phone. It’s enlightening to realize how our devices are conditioning us and ruining our attention spans.

One unexpected benefit of my DLAE has been sustained focus which has allowed me to dream again, to have long, sustained consistent moments of continued work without notifications – beeps, whistles and buzzes. It’s refreshing to welcome vision back into my life. I didn’t realize from personal experience how much multitasking on smart devices hinders concentration and creative thinking.

Now when I see others using their smartphones indiscriminately and without discipline, it’s a continued challenge to me to stay on track with my DLAE (which is now becoming a DLA – digital life adjustment) more than just an experiment.

A few helpful, related web articles:



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