Once in a while, I like to put my phone down. In fact, I wish my kids (ok, wife too) would put their phone down as well (can't a man dream)! I'd like to be away from the emails, texts, and other temptations that live inside my smartphone. The goal is to be more present and less distracted. Scrupulous enterprises (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Amazon to name a few) spend billions of dollars making sure their products/apps are addictive enough, so you spend increasing amounts of your time engaging with them; after all, that is their growth model. Sure, it is ironic for me of all people to say this, given my reliance on finding new places and amazing apps! But like all addicts, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem ("My name is Bryan and ... I do!"). The next step is to remove the trigger ... that damn phone! I have a Pavlovian response to having my phone is my hands, which is to check Outlook, Wunderlist, WhatsApp, missed calls, Google News, Words with Friends, and the list goes on and on and on! This week ushered in the arrival of a few new toys that allow me to leave my phone in my bag or pocket, and even to leave the house without it!
Let's be honest with ourselves; we are distracted all the time, not just when using our phones. I haven't found a great app that limits access to social media sites that isn't overwhelming (anyone?). Sure, there is Our Pact and Disney's Circle, but adults don't need this level of device control. They should have developed, at this point, the discipline to avoid social media sites, text messages, etc. and work distraction free ... yeah right! There are many techniques for avoiding distraction like the Pomodoro Technique and the principals of Cal Newport's Deep Work; but Saent has upped the game by adding the focus button (a physical desktop device) which, when pressed, starts a work session. There is a light on the device that tells others to stay away and tells you to be focused. The app will block access to sites that you deem distracting (goodbye Aunt whomever in wherever on FaceBook!) for the duration of the period. You get to rate which sites are productive and which sites are evil after sessions. Of course, you can end the session early, but there is something of a game to it. The device/app even suggests a well-deserved break after a task is completed (for the over achievers out there). I have found that a physical device is a differentiator to staying focused. This app even tracks your focused work time, almost like the step counter in your new Garmin Fénix 5x watch! Friends (or shall I say, acquaintances vis a vis facebook), game on, who can stay off of social media the longest!
I ordered this phone and wasn't really sure how or why I needed it. It is bare bones...transmits and receives calls over 2G network, can only save 9 numbers, and really does nothing else! What I have found is I love to simplify (sometimes). It forces me to be more present, so I plan to bring to outings where I know I won't need any apps (sorry Uber!). I can imagine it is the perfect phone for a child who you want to remove from social media. Also the phone is very small (credit card sized), weighs nothing (credit card weight), and looks like it could have been designed in Cupertino! Oh, and and, everyone, everywhere asks, what's that? When the world goes bigger, we go smaller!
Garmin Fenix 5x
I was happy minding my own business when my brother in law and fellow Louper Neil R. introduced me to the Fenix...I had to immediately order one and scrap my Forerunner 225. I liked the Forerunner but love the Fenix. It has a more substantial face yet still feels comfortable enough for any activity. It tracks steps, distance, and heart rate, but also has an altimeter and advanced mapping functions. Further they have introduced apps to control your music, phone, and route very seamlessly. It even checks your calendar and alerts too. Love it!!!