The Distraction Free iPhone

Jake Knapp and shutting the distraction out of his iPhone which was spurred on by an honest question from his kid. “Dad, why are you looking at your phone?”

He wasn’t trying to make me feel bad or anything. He was just curious. But I didn’t have a good answer. So why was I looking at my iPhone? I didn’t even remember taking it out — it had sort of materialized in my hand. All day, I’d been looking forward to spending time with my kids, and now that it was finally happening, I wasn’t really there at all.

He took that moment of frustration with himself for not being present with his kids and turned it into action.

With my pulse pounding in my temples, I mashed the screen till the icons wiggled. Then I started deleting those goddamned apps.

I began with the obvious attention thieves. I deleted Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I deleted YouTube, ESPN, and all my games. Then I went into the settings and removed Safari. I was like David Bowman in 2001, shutting down the psychotic computer HAL so I could fly the spaceship by myself.

Even email went. What he has is a phone with a blank home screen. The ability to make calls and send text messages on the dock and then a few apps pages back.

I’ve had a distraction-free iPhone for six years now. And there have been costs. I lost my reputation for instant email response and immediate task turnaround. Without the tug of my phone, I drifted off of Facebook and lost touch with some friends.

He sees it as a competitive advantage.

Here’s the thing: When I stopped instantly reacting to everyone else’s priorities, I got better at making time for the projects I believed were most important—even if they weren’t urgent or nobody was asking for them. I invested effort in documenting and promoting my design sprint process. And, after a lifetime of putting it off till “someday,” I finally started writing, eventually publishing two books.

My wife has noticed something with Screentime, she spends a few hours a day on her phone and doesn’t have any idea where that time came from. She says she doesn’t have 2 hours a day to be on her phone and yet the numbers don’t lie.

Jake recommends we take the time right now to delete every application that can notify us. Then ask yourself hard questions every time you have to put anything back on your phone.

I find that every time you say you have to do something you need to examine your beliefs. You don’t have to get your kids everything they ask. You don’t have to be in Twitter, or Instagram or Facebook.

Jake has more questions I think are worthy of your attention. He got me the pair back the apps I have on my phone. Next, I need to reorganize my home screen and focus on just the apps I use as I test out some vlogging for 2019 over the holidays.

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