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!
Garmin Fenix 5x
Garmin fénix 5x
This incredible new watch from Garmin allows you to leave your phone in your pocket, or even at home. It has the functionality of the Apple & Moto Watches, but also much, much more! Let's start with the least important feature (to me), its attractiveness and comfort. Someone confused mine with a Bell & Ross (think fancy watch). It is substantial in feeling, but still light weight and unobtrusive when you play sports. The band is waterproof, and you can easily find your fit since there are narrowly spaced notches. As for functionality, it has everything you would want in a watch to track your activities. It will track your running (road, trail, track or treadmill), hiking, climbing (of course it tracks your altitude), swimming, cycling, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, rowing (indoor or outdoor), golf, and even stand up paddle boarding! Are there any other sports one would like to track their activity level??? Just leave your bulky, distracting phone at home! Also, it seamlessly connects to your smartphone and provides weather, alerts (messages, important emails, or any other alerts you set), controls your music, and can even find your phone. All those above so you don't have to pick up your phone during that meeting, movie, or any other event that requires all (ok, nothing requires all, most!) of your attention! You can even check what time it is without putting your phone in your hands and giving yourself the temptation to open it and its many treasures inside. Imagine, interacting with friends, business associates, family members as if you are giving them your fullest attention ... little do they know, about your tricky little friend, the Garmin Fenix 5x!
The Light Phone
The Light Phone is specifically designed to use as little as possible. Hmmm ... imagine that, a world filled with people who are not always on their phones. It is a credit card sized phone (shape and weight) that only makes and receives phone calls, blasphemy! The only 'advanced' features are that it can store nine numbers on speed dial and see received calls. That's all! You don't have the option to check your highly addictive apps. To be honest, you can't even can't even call an Uber, (Oh My)! The phone works well with your existing smartphone, as it receives calls to your number (easy to turn on and off) and outgoing calls are as if they are coming from your number. The phones currently cost $150 (that will change), $5 per month going forward, and you are on a 2G network, with is entirely sufficient to make the occasional call when necessary. I find this phone excellent in the right set of circumstances. It is perfect for working out, maybe even running a marathon, where you may need a phone but don't want to lug around your iPhone 7+. How about running out for an errand where you don't need your wallet. How about punishing your kids and replacing their smartphones (crack) with the Light Phone (pacifier) so you can contact them, and they can contact you. Crazy! There is no better conversation starter than holding this little phone to your ear.
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!