TL;DR I changed my mind and turned on all of the notifications on my phone to save me from myself.
‘Take time away from your phone.’ ‘Disconnect. Be more present.’ These are all things we’ve heard ad nauseam in the slow living community. Heck, I’ve written more than my fair share of posts on this topic too. I’ll link some of my favourites at the end of this post.
But, a recent technology downgrade and re-upgrade has changed my perspective on how I allow my technology to be part of my day.
A couple of years ago, in typical minimalist fashion, I turned off all the notifications on my phone. The sole exception was text messages, which are normally the most important for me.
‘I’m not going to be distracted any more,’ I thought. ‘This is the beginning of a new relationship with technology.’
One of the earliest steps in simplifying your life involves taking back possession of your time from your tech. This is a noble goal. But, I now believe that our faith in the importance of silencing notifications has been misplaced.
Downgrading to a (Moderately) Smart Phone
Due to my ‘new’ phone acting up and being glitchy of late, I decided to temporarily downgrade myself to an old iPhone I had kept just for such occasions. I only re-installed the bare necessities of apps (Instagram, Twitter & Spotify).
Because I had re-installed the apps, the notification settings were reset to their defaults. That meant, for the first time in years, I was actually being notified on my home screen about things going on in my social networks.
You’d think these kinds of notifications would make me spend more time on my phone scrolling through my feeds or more time being generally distracted. But, to my surprise, I actually found the opposite to be true.
All of The Notifications
Before, in no-notification land, I had to unlock my phone and go into a specific app to see if I had any notifications. I know I didn’t have to go into my phone, but that was the reality.
Now, with some key notifications turned on, I can immediately see what’s going on in my networks without having to actually go into the app – which would inevitably lead to more time spent on my phone. With my notifications front and centre, I can make the decision to follow up in the app, or dismiss them and deal with them later.
Since making the change, more often than not, I’ve chosen to dismiss them. Because of this, I’ve actually spent less time on my phone than when I had notifications turned off. Win-win!
The other part of this is that in the back and forth between my phones, I also drastically reduced the number of apps on my phone. I uninstalled any apps I don’t use on my daily basis and removed from the home screen apps that I don’t use but my phone wouldn’t let me get rid of. All in all, I removed almost half of the apps on my phone (25 uninstalled, 22 kept).
I’d like to think that my ‘smartphone’ has no impact on my life or mental health. But, I know that that is not the case.
I’m just as surprised as anyone that turning on my phone notifications has actually helped me use my phone less. It’s the kind of thing that makes no sense.
Do you use notifications on your phone? Do you think they help or hurt the amount of time you spend on your phone?
- Tiny Bites 34: Magic Happened When I Left My Phone At Home For The Day
- Bored and Brilliant Challenge: Part 1
- Bored and Brilliant Challenge: Part 2