A quest to tame technology-driven interruptions and distractions in my daily life.

Right-sizing my gear

In the past couple of weeks, i have decommissioned my iPhone – switching to a lobotomized Nokia e71x – and sold my laptop after transferring everything to a spare iMac at the office. This is the first time in 3 years I haven’t had email/web on the go and the first time in a decade I haven’t had a laptop.

A couple of days after I sold the laptop, I made the final purchase to complete the planned transition. I got an iPad. While it might seem counter-intuitive to buy the latest, snazziest gadget from Apple in an effort to downgrade and simplify… allow me to explain my thinking.

First, this whole life-change is not about being anti-technology. It’s about being anti-inqterruptqion, anti-distraction, and anti-sucked into work 24/7. Leaving the major computing on my desk and getting other computing out of my pocket were the first parts of that – leaving me in need of a solution for a thing on which to enjoy leisure music/video/web/reading and for those times that i did want or need to write or correspond away from my desk. Again: not ever-present and buzzing in my pocket, but available when I please and also something i can leave behind.

So far, so good. I will admit that the iPad is a seductive little gadget, but it’s keyboard-less and uni-tasking nature make it a great little casual content machine as well as a helluva simple writing or corresponding tool. In fact, I’m writing this post on it right now. I found a slim fold-up stand and got a Bluetooth keyboard for longer sessions, which have already proven themselves handy when i want to steal away and focus.

The main impulses I’m fighting one week in are 1) to grab it or the bag/accessories on my way-out the door and 2) turning it on to “just check in” the way I did with the iPhone. Both are bad habits in the making, so I am being extra aware. The other slippery slope is reading in bed. It breaks my rule of no Internet gadgets an hour before/after sleeping, but i have begun to wonder if I can just turn off the wifi or just not do web stuffs with a similar effect. I suppose it boils down to whether i feel that the issue is the fragmentation of my consciousness or more generally over-stimulation. I’ll sort it out.

Remaining to do are to jailbreak my iPhone so i can fetch a better price and transferring off of AT&T to the month-to-month Pure TalkUSA deal I got. It is a tricky thing since I want to keep my number, not be penalized by AT&T for jumping ship, and I need to have up to a 72 hour block of time for the number to move over. Tricky.

All in all, it has been lovely so far. Honestly, i feel like I’m on a permanent vacation. I feel much less stressed and preoccupied. Moreover, I no longer feel the burden of having the Internet, email, and dozens of apps and countless files strapped to me at all times like a bomb. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “euphoric” but definitely unencumbered.

I recognize that many of these changes were perhaps more about discipline than the actual tools, but I have also seen in myself a compulsion to push the feeder pellet – and am dedicated to making it hard to waste countless moments in that way. The whole process has me looking at my life in a renewed way, asking: what else is frivolous? More on the next set of changes soon.

Hint: I’m hyper-localizing my work day.

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