Outfox your stupid lizard brain with a Boring Phone

I was recently reminded of this very long, very good article How to make your iPhone work with you, not against you by Coach Tony. It’s a 75-minute read, enjoy.

Since I read this article over the Christmas period of 2018, I have been slowly but surely crafting a Boring Phone.

2018: Did most of the things in the article

2019: Deleted all social media and news apps

2020: Deleted the Gmail app. Apart from my daily walk, I now spend all day on my laptop, there is no good reason to check emails on my phone

2021: Deleted the Chrome browser

Deleting my Chrome browser was in response to re-reading the Top five regrets of the dying and realising that my top five would likely include: “I wish I hadn’t spent so much time online”. I was so smug about deleting the social media apps, but I was still using Twitter and generally wasting my life in the Chrome app. I tried various ways to limit this behaviour but realised that ultimately, pathetically, Chrome had to go. Of course, I still have Safari because Apple won’t let me delete it, but luckily it has designed me out of using it by having such a shocking user interface.

The homepage of my Boring Phone

This is what my home screen now looks like (except that I paranoidly removed my finance apps for this screenshot). It’s a Boring Phone, designed to support four things only:

  1. Being present: meditation, recording observations through the camera
  2. Outsourcing my memory: notes
  3. Deep social connection: calls and texts (note: no Slack app…)
  4. Repeated single tasks or queries: What time is that meeting? When is my period coming? How much money do I have? What is this brilliant song? How do I get to this place I want to go to? What is 35% of 2,400? Is it too cold for a swim? What is the password for this thing?

I’m still undisciplined and self-defeating on my laptop, but at least my Boring Phone is not contributing to my poor memory and short attention span. The benefits of having a browser-free Boring Phone:

  1. I can’t double-screen. If I’m watching something, there is literally nothing interesting I can do on my phone at the same time. I still reflexively pick my phone up, hoping to get a dopamine hit, but there’s simply nothing there. Sure, sex is great, but have you ever used technology to outfox your own stupid lizard brain?
  2. If I’m out and about (not on my laptop) I have to be engaged in delayed gratification. I can be either ruminate, think about interesting things, communicate with people I care deeply about, read an actual book, or listen to music or podcasts. Or just be present and take in my surroundings (haha jk). All of these things are better for my mind than the instant gratification of scrolling.
  3. I cannot aimlessly wander my phone while lying in bed. There is literally nothing interesting to do on my phone. It is so boring.
  4. I choose the moment when the outside world intrudes on my morning.
  5. I hardly ever use Instagram because the browser experience is (deliberately) bad.

Honestly, craft a Boring Phone. Then tell me how to craft a Boring Laptop, please.

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