Skip to content

I Quit My Smartphone for 30 Days

Posted on:April 4, 2024

As the smartphone has become a physical extension of most of us (including me), I decided to quit my phone for 30 days. And spoiler alert, I decided to quit it for life. 

This all started many years ago when I grew too obsessed with constantly checking my phone. I went through the same patterns of unlocking the phone, checking messages, email, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and random notifications from apps like Clash of Clans, clearing away all those red bubbles to get back to a clean interface. I repeat that cycle whenever there’s a slight empty space in my life. 

Around that time, I started noticing that I didn’t enjoy that cycle. It got to the point that the YouTube algorithm recognized that I didn’t like this cycle either and started recommending videos about how to be less attached to the phone. 

This was my journey for the past two years:

After deleting all of them, I was left with Twitter and YouTube accounts as the only ones I still used, and I had them only on Safari. I added blockers so I wouldn’t spend so much time on them, but I just typed the password in whenever I reached my daily limit.

I tried leaving my phone in a separate room, but I would always find it again somehow. 

I’ve tried many things, and most of them worked for a day or two or a week, but no matter what, I would somehow get back to my bad habits—until now.

The Apple Watch cellular stopped this loop. 

Before I tell you about the logistics and my experience, I want to explain why I have been so obsessed with not scrolling and what the big deal is.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. But something inside me absolutely hates myself whenever I get caught in one of those loops. My wife, for example, has all those apps (that I have grown to despise) and uses them normally., Sometimes, she gets caught in one of those loops, but here’s the crazy thing: she doesn’t beat herself up about it; she keeps living and doesn’t worry about it. She never falls into the trap of it happening consistently, where it’s affecting her life. 

I guess she’s just built different.

I see it completely differently. Every time I get caught in the loop, I waste a precious amount of my short time on this earth doing something that I will not remember five minutes from now. It’s worse than any drugs or hangover for me because, at least for those, I can remember (hopefully) a crazy or fun time. 

I needed to change this for myself to be able to live with myself. 

The Apple Watch cellular helped me change. The cellular part is a massive part of the answer. I had the non-cellular watch for a long time. It helped again, but I always returned to the phone. I needed the phone whenever I left the house, and it would loop me back in. The phone stays in the back of the closet with the cellular Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch cellular has all the basics that you need. You can call and message people. The maps are more than good enough. It has Spotify and podcasts and can connect to my car via Bluetooth. It has everything I’d ever need except a camera. The camera is the biggest problem, and notes are a minor problem (especially since I’ve been writing more). 

I started by shutting down the iPhone completely, but this caused some functionality to be lost. You wouldn’t get 3rd party notifications, and some apps wouldn’t load. 

Then, I  connected and kept the iPhone charging in the back of the closet. I didn’t touch my phone for two weeks except to change settings for the Apple Watch (which you have to do from the phone). 

This was one of the least distracted periods of my life. For those first two weeks, I still had that itch to check my phone between sets at the gym while waiting around for something or just sitting on the couch. 

Then, around the two-week mark, that started slowly going away. That itch is gone. I can focus on a task longer and get into the flow more easily. I unlocked focus superpowers.

In terms of productivity, it’s been a blast, but I did have those two problems. Not having a camera or a place to take notes. I’m just going to ignore the notes part. You can bring a notebook or make voice recordings. There’s a good amount of solutions. But buying a separate camera when I have one of the most powerful cameras in the world on my smartphone seems stupid. I found a great solution that works for me. 

I never had a problem being on the phone with friends or my wife or doing something new. The main issues are at home, work (at home or the library), and the gym. So, I banned myself from using my phone at home, the library (where I work), and the gym. Whenever I go somewhere else, my phone is not an issue. I don’t need to take pictures of anything at the library or the gym; I can grab the phone if I need to at home. That’s what I’ve been doing, and all the effects from completely cutting out the phone are still there, without the negatives. 

The last part I must cover is whether I’ve been more distracted on my laptop. This was something I never really worried about. I don’t know the whole reason for it, but it has something to do with the intention and the intuitiveness of the apps on a laptop that doesn’t do it for me like it does with my phone. I treat my laptop as a device for work and productive tasks, and I still sometimes get caught in the social media loops (mostly with YouTube). They are much fewer and far between. When it comes to Twitter, and I scroll for about 3 minutes, I get bored and go back to work. With YouTube, I can get more looped in. Still, YouTube doesn’t bring me the same negative feeling I get as most of the other social media, most likely because my feed is mostly learning materials like Veritasium, Fireship, some home improvement channels, and Scott Yu Jan (one of the most inspiring artists of this decade). 

I still use a Safari extension to block Twitter and YouTube’s algorithms, which minimizes the likelihood of getting looped in. Here’s what my Twitter and YouTube home screens look like.

Minimal Youtube and Twitter Home Page

This stupid little Apple Watch has changed my life.