Can I get rid of my phone?

Because I learned the hard way that my phone usage was messing with my mood I've been trying to limit my phone usage with mixed success.

Telling people about what happened most reactions were something like

Sounds like a you problem, not a phone problem
It feels like you just have a problem regulating your own usage.

Which I would agree with. But for me the easy way out would be to not carry that device in the first place. It's like I'm constantly carrying a heroine/crack/pinball machine in my pocket.

A colleague compared it to an alcohol addiction: The first step is to admit you have a problem and start owning it. But to train new habits the next weeks would be a whole lot easier if the fridge wasn't filled with cold beers 🍻.

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Do I need a phone at all?

After the weekend I left my phone at home which was easier than expected. I did learn the hard way about some things I need my phone for:

  • (on the go) payments. I try not to carry my wallet and got used to paying with my phone
  • 2 factor authentication. Sites/platforms that require 2 factor authentication (by SMS)
  • internet sharing. I avoid coffee-bar/other peoples wifi and prefer my own phone/VPN
  • calendar. Reminders for events/social activities or zoom calls
  • itme. Another type of 2FA app the Belgian government/some sites use
  • pictures/video. Taking a picture of a phone number, a menu or a family activity to use later
  • podcasts/music. The thing i missed the most not carrying my phone.

My first idea was to figure out if these things can be solved with other devices.

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Alternative hardware

Here is a list of stuff I considered buying to replace some of the functions listed above:

  • Wallet/Bank Card/Cash - Cost 0$
  • Mobile Router/Mifi/5G dongle - Cost 60 - 400$
  • Mirrorless Camera - Cost 400 - 1200$
  • Audio Player/Ipod Touch - Cost 400 - 800$

With this I was replacing one device (Android phone) with about 1500-2000$ other hardware doing exactly the same 🤯.

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The good/the bad/the ugly

Most high-end smartphones would be support all of these functions and more cost-efficient. So what if I do keep my phone for pure essentials? I started analysing my behaviour (digital wellbeing app in Android) together with taking notes about my mood.

A short summary:

  • The good: Internet sharing, calendar, 2FA/itsme, pictures/video, podcasts/music
  • The bad: Checking the news, monitoring stocks/crypto, Slack, Github, YouTube, messaging apps
  • The ugly: Twitter, Reddit, Hacker News, Doom Scrolling.

For the last category I found that sometimes an hour flew by just doom scrolling my phone leaving me in a bad mood (something along the lines of 'the world is fucked'). This also affected the total hours of sleep as it was harder to catch sleep or I just stayed up too late.

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Keeping a phone for pure essentials

What would be the best way to keep my phone usage to everything in the 'good' category and preventing me from using it to do anything else?

Both android and IOS have extensive tools on restricting phone usage. I decided to uninstall all apps in the bad/ugly category and only allow the apps that are good for me.

For everything else I set the timer to 0 minutes/day and asked my daughter to choose/remember the unlocking pin code so I could not cheat.

Let's see how it goes.

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