Going Light with my iPhone
One of my stand-out reads of last year was Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism and I have been trying to adopt a healthier relationship with technology.
I was considering taking things a step further and ordering a Light Phone II before realising that whilst not particularly distracting, I do still rely on my iPhone for some of its 'smart' features:
- I use it to maintain and sync my Apple Watch
- I almost exclusively use Apple Wallet and Apple Pay, meaning that all I need to carry with me is whatever will fit in the MagSafe wallet on the back of the phone (drivers license, backup debit card and my Medicare card)
- In Queensland we still occasionally need to show proof of COVID vaccination in certain venues, which is part of the contact-tracing/check-in app
- Apple Music
I recently finished reading Make Time where, like Digital Minimalism, the authors advocate the creation of a distraction-free phone - making the phone a tool again. I realised that it was possible I could embrace the Light Phone's manifesto of Going Light without giving up the conveniences afforded by the Apple ecosystem.
This is now my Home Screen:
Phone, messaging and music - that is more or less all that the Light Phone II has, and that is all I think I'll need for now.
I'd prefer not to have to use WhatsApp but a number of my relatives insist on using it exclusively. It's a work-in-progress.
I still have other apps installed on my phone, but they are hidden away in the App Library - a left or right-swipe away, and then type-to-search.
I had already removed social media apps (I'm not on Facebook anyway), but have now gone and uninstalled any streaming apps (Netflix, Apple TV etc) as well as my email. The added step to access other apps gives just enough friction to stop me idly accessing apps that I would otherwise not need to.
I don't have any widgets configured, and I have removed notifications for anything other than the core communication apps on my Home Screen.
So what do I still have installed?
- Contact-tracing/check-in app (although restrictions have recently been lifted so this will likely be next to go now that my proof-of-vaccination can be stored in Apple Wallet)
- 1Password (mainly for generating 2FA one-time-passwords)
- Connectivity app for my Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT cycle computer
- Safari, albeit buried deep down in the App Library
- ...plus a bunch of seldom-used apps for accessing the smart-locks at my office, remote telemetry for my car and account management for my mobile phone service provider.
I've taken to charging my phone in my home office - away from the bedroom - at night (in fact it now mostly lives on its MagSafe charging stand whenever I'm in the house). I have already made it passed the phase of anxiety whenever my phone isn't on my person - in fact I now find myself leaving the house without it (even when I really should be taking it with me!).
But as Cal Newport observes, removing apps from your phone is not the full solution - you have to replace the time spent using the phone with better alternatives. That will form my next step towards minimalism and living more intentionally.
Sidenote: My first attempt at going light with my phone was with a plain black wallpaper, but I have since opted for something more vibrant from Unsplash.