Decluttering: mobile edition

Since I got a new watch a few months ago, I find myself looking at my phone less by accident. By that I mean those times when you just wanted to check the time and saw a notification, ended up checking email or Facebook anyway, and spent 10 minutes looking at the phone doing nothing useful.

But still there’s a number of times when that happens, mostly because of notifications. Having more Facebook friends than the years has days means that pretty much every day is somebody’s birthday. And so when I pick the phone in the morning the first thing I see is a Facebook notification about it, which gave me an excuse to open Facebook. I noticed that, for a while, the first thing I did in the morning was checking Facebook, and it didn’t feel right at all.

There’s also those times when you are slightly bored and go to your phone out of habit. I would check Facebook again, or maybe play a game, or catch up on blogs on Feedly.

I felt I was spending way too much time and attention on things of little value, so I stopped. This is my home screen today:

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 15.52.28

What you won’t find in there (or the other screen): Facebook, Twitter, games, Feedly, Flipboard, Zite.

I kept Pocket since at least that has content that I already selected myself. Other than that, if I’m checking my phone to kill some time, I have books.

I’ve had this going for almost a month and while I’ve barely had any notifications making me check my phone, I still have the habit of checking Facebook way too often, even from Safari.

I got a new watch

I think the last time I used a wristwatch I was still in high school. I got it as a birthday present and I can still remember that feeling of wearing an adult watch: it was made of steel —or at least it looked that way— and it was way more elegant than those cheap plastic digital Casio watches that beeped every hour and had multiple functions.

One day the battery died and the band broke so I took it to the shop to have it repaired and the battery replaced. I can’t remember what happened but when I came back for it they hadn’t repaired it, I got angry at the shop and put the watch in a drawer. I never took it for repair, or see it again. 

Fast forward to this year, and everyone is gossiping about the Apple Watch. Since I work on the iOS platform I’m usually overexposed to all things Apple. So I kept reading about smartwatches for a long time.

A few years ago, I probably would have wanted one, but now I couldn’t figure out how it would be useful to me today. But there was this one thing: I started liking the idea of having a watch again. Or more specifically, I started craving a nice old fashioned Swiss watch. At least until I saw their prices.

One day I was shopping for something else in a sports store and found this beauty at the outrageous price of 15€:  

I really liked the simplicity in the design, and how it was elegant without being fancy. And have I mentioned the price?

After a couple months with it, I couldn’t be more happy. I can think of a few ways this is better than an Apple Watch:

  • Compared to the 400+€ of the sport edition, or the 1200+€ of the steel Apple Watch that I liked, this one feels practically free.
  • Battery life is measured in years, not hours. I really don’t miss having to charge yet another device. 
  • Being able to just look at the time has made me pull out my phone less, which meant less time wasted on distractions. I don’t want to bring notifications to my wrist, I want less of them. 
  • It was very clear on the packaging that I could swim with it, and I’ve done it without issue. 
  • I’ve dropped it a few times and didn’t even care.
  • I watched my baby chew on it as he was vomiting, and it made me laugh not cry.
  • It will probably be as useful in five years as it is today, maybe many more.  Even if it wears out after a couple years, for the price of one Apple Watch I could buy a lifetime supply of these.

A few years ago, I was one of those people who thought it was silly to have a device that just told time. Now I’m happy to have a watch that doesn’t tell me who liked my latest picture when all I want to know is the time.