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Reclaiming my time from the screen

Stuttgart Library

During September, I decided to follow Scroll Free September by drastically reducing how much time I spent on the internet. I tend to browse the news on my phone while on the train to work, but it's also crept into looking at it while eating and doing other things, so I thought I'd do something about it.

And here's the thing - I didn't think I used my phone that much, but when I consciously took stock of how and when I was using it, I was shocked. So I decided to leave it alone for a while and get back to doing things the old-fashioned way.

The results have been pretty dramatic.

1) I read two-and-a-half books.

I love reading, but since I've had a smartphone I don't read as many books and I never buy a newspaper. I subscribe to The Economist, but sometimes find that I don't read a good portion of it. During September, I not only read every issue cover to cover, but also read The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (a wonderful book, which I'd been meaning to read for ages), re-read A Walk In The Woods (brilliant), and started reading Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics (very interesting).

In short, I rediscovered why I love reading so much.

2) I got things done much more efficiently and effectively.

It's amazing how much time we spend staring at screens. When I stopped, I felt like I had much more time to do things, which is because I really did have more time. Less time wasting time staring at a screen = more time to do other things. Like spending time with my family, exercising, writing, working on some personal projects, reading (as mentioned), learning, cooking, and more.

3) I noticed, and appreciated, much more.

When you're not looking down, you look around much more. This isn't just good for not bumping into things or not getting hit by cars, but also for noticing and appreciating things around you.

I love sunsets, for example, but during September I just enjoyed them without whipping my phone out and getting a picture for Instagram.

4) I was far more relaxed.

Having more time meant I didn't feel rushed all the time, and it was wonderful.

In short, I want to keep this up. I'll keep my phone in my bag rather than in my pocket, and check it maybe 2-3 times a day to see if I have a message or phone call.

I recently wrote about wanting the new Infobar, but now I'm seriously considering going back to a function phone. Whatever happens, I'll go on enjoying reclaiming my time and all the benefits that come with it. 


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Richard, You must admit browsing is a great enabler for procrastination.

I'm considering a flip phone. My old one finally bit the dust and I was forced into the 21st Century.

I like old methods however limiting they may be.

Kids today don't know how to write (or read) cursive. Maybe that's nothing to lament but I feel the loss of a certain elegance in the quality of life.

Chuck, absolutely!

I'm also considering a flip phone again. I find smartphones to be limiting in some ways. The fact people now do almost everything with them: communication, social networking, taking pictures, work, tracking their exercise, etc., means they're limiting themselves to one device and a set way of doing things. Take their phone away and they don't know what to do.

Like I said in the post, I've rediscovered my love for reading something properly, not constantly checking my phone for the very latest news.

The loss of cursive I think is something to lament (I actually wrote about it a few years ago), and I still think that text speak is creating a generation who can't read and write properly, whether in cursive or not.

Perhaps we're just getting old, Chuck... ;-)

Older, but not done.

The final straw with my 'smart' phone was when it began to be an imposition - doing things without asking.

The flip phone was fine - it did not make strange noises or try to run my life.

A friend of mine only has a Burner for emergencies. If I care to be in touch, I must catch him at home on his land line or (heavens) send him a note by snail mail. He's free!

IT has been a game-changer but has not really improved the quality of life. Well, maybe for a few, but not in general.

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