Removing distractions

A while ago I read an article on living a year with a distraction free iPhone. I laughed when I read the title, this guy must be one crazy fool I thought to myself. After reading the article I felt like maybe I’m the crazy fool and this guy is actually on to something.

My iPhone made me twitchy. I could feel it in my pocket, calling me, like the Ring called Bilbo Baggins. — Jake Knapp

It's fair to say I was inspired, but I didn’t want to make any changes. I spent awhile thinking about it, specifically why I use social networks and how much time I spent browsing timelines and clicking on stuff. I found a lot of things I could relate to in that post, perhaps my iPhone had become a distraction, just noise to fill the time in-between things.

So yeah, I’m guilty of reaching for my iPhone too often. With friends, during lunch, waiting for the bus, in a taxi, looking after the kids, in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, last thing at night. In any spare moment I’d pick up my iPhone and refresh Twitter, check for new photos on Instagram, read articles I’d saved in Pocket, it was an endless stream of things to fill any gap of time.

I also stumbled across this video, it’s a little over the top but it was enough to make me feel uncomfortable. It was enough to make me want to do something about how much I was using my phone.

Over time I started making small changes. I started to try and be a little more mindful about when and why I was using my iPhone. I started reading books again before bed instead of browsing Twitter. At home I instigated a “No Technology Day” on Saturdays, and yes it’s exactly what it sounds like. I started checking in on things a little less, so much so I actually forgot to take my phone out with me on several occasions.

Progress was being made, but I found it too easy to fall back into bad habits as everything was still right there on my phone. I decided it was time to step things up a notch.

I started by deleting my Facebook account, and to be fair this was easy as I’m not really into Facebook. Next up was Instagram, to begin with I just deleted the app. For the first week or so I missed it. I found myself twitching to launch it, scanning the home screen wondering where it was, then remembering I’d deleted it. Three weeks in and things got easier, I stopped missing it. It was one less thing to worry about and it felt good, so good in fact that I went ahead and deleted that account too.

This week I deleted the Twitter app from my iPhone.

Twitter was the hard one. I watched the app jiggle and shake like it knew what was about to happen, I tapped the x in the corner and it was gone. My phone is now free of all social networks, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instgram, no Vine, no Pocket. Everything's gone.

Just for the record, I still have a Twitter account and don't plan on getting rid of it anytime soon. I'll probably check it once or twice a day at most when I'm on my Mac, and I'm okay with that.

While I was getting rid of all the social network apps I also took the opportunity to cut down on everything else. My iPhone is now free of games and other random junk I don't need.

Since I started making these changes I generally feel more relaxed. I no longer get that twitch to take out my phone whenever there's a free moment, and even if I do there's not much to do on it anyway. I'm hoping that with less distractions, I'll have more time to think and focus on all the things that really matter.

Dan Counsell

I'm the Founder of Realmac Software. I've been designing, building, and shipping products for over fifteen years. I write new articles every month on how to run a profitable online business.

Brighton, well Hove actually.