Is it working?

Three subjects in one:

  1. Am I able to comply with the challenges of this project?
  2. Am I feeling better as a result of this project?
  3. What are the disadvantages?

Am I able to comply with the challenges of this project?

The answer is “to some extent”. As I previously wrote, I was hoping to get rid of the smartphone completely, so have had to change the parameters to having the dumbphone on me, and the smartphone elsewhere. I have been able to do this much of the time. The smartphone still charges in my bedroom, albeit on a desk rather than by the bedside. This does allow some access to checking, although less reflexive, so it is an improvement, but not 100% – perhaps 70%.

Also, it is available at home on wifi, so that when I’m around the house I can check things. Again, the fact that it’s not in my pocket means that I have been able to resist checking it much of the time, but sometimes it is still a temptation. So I’ll give myself 70% again for that one. However, having it on wifi does allow me e.g. to use facetime at home to speak to faraway relatives.

I do still have to take the smartphone with me to work, as it has all of my passwords on it, and I definitely have no solution to that one. Also, it allows me to see the family whatsapp chatter that can be quite helpful. Also, using work wifi allows me to scan and send documents by email, and also to see personal facebook messages.

I have been able to leave social media quite easily, and I don’t miss it. I’m still answering any direct queries (e.g. facebook personal messages, or work issues where I have been tagged to answer, or people who want to link via linkedin). But I’ve not been on a general trawl for a couple of weeks, which feels like great progress. So I would give myself 90% for that.

I also looked at the Sunday Times over the weekend while I had an hour free in a cafe with wifi. That was great, and really doesn’t relate to the checking impulse for which I had to delete the news app.

Am I feeling better?

That’s a tricky one, as clearly there are so many determinants of my happiness. But actually overall the answer is yes. I have slept a little better, have been more present in conversation, and have been more engaged with events around me. But most importantly my mind is a little quieter. I’ve also read about a book every 10 days rather than a book every 3 months. I now never surf on the iphone when I go to bed, and instead read my book, which allows me to go to sleep earlier, although the TV has become something that can also stop my mind quietening…

What are the disadvantages?

  • I am carrying around a lot of “stuff”. In particular:
    • Change for parking
    • Satnav (had to buy it new)
    • Dumbphone and smartphone
    • Digital dictation machine – got bought it by work
  • Some things are a little more tricky to do.
    • Parking – talked about in the last post.
    • Maps when you are walking – very tricky – will have to think about this one. Do I need a paper AtoZ?!?
    • Communication – don’t have so many channels of communication. Will write a post on this, as this is both good and bad.
    • Music – do not now have spotify unless I have wifi
    • Cannot get an uber
    • Banking – have had to get a card reader rather than use the mobile app
    • (Taking photos – can do on the smartphone without wifi)
    • Activity monitor – cannot do, unless buy e.g. a fitbit, and I was previously monitoring activity for Vitality, as it reduces insurance payments
    • Weight monitor – having been on a diet and put on weight again, I do like to keep a record of my diet, and this is on the iphone weight diary app
    • Work – I’ll cover that (e.g. live spreadsheets) in a separate post

It definitely does not feel like I’m there yet. My next steps are:

a. Consider buying a second sim card for the feature phone, and enable call forwarding from the smartphone, so that I have the advantages of both. I will carry the feature phone only in my pocket, but the risk is that having a sim card in the smartphone increases the likelihood of using it in the “old” and “unhealthy” way

b. Move the smartphone charging station to out of the bedroom. Interestingly, this feels very sensible, and yet also feels like a challenge in itself. Reason enough to action this one…


In London it used to be a nightmare to park, as you would have to carry around bucket loads of change with you to feed the meters, if there even were any working meters around. Since apps like paybyphone and ringgo came along, it has been made a whole lot easier to park using the mobile phone, and never to need cash to do this.

However, they do, of course, require a smartphone in order to use them, and this seems to be one of the major issues at the moment with this project. I have to pay for parking at least once a week. This is mainly with family, when we visit other places in London, or when I drop the kids off somewhere. And without a working smartphone (i.e. without a sim card in it), this is virtually impossible.

So what are the potential solutions:

  1. Carry around an enormous amount of change. Yes – this works – but you have to be very careful not to run out. And we are increasingly living in a cashless culture, so where is this change supposed to come from. I have to make a special effort now to take out money so that I can pay for things and get change, which I have to remember to carry around in a special wallet
  2. When I’m with someone else with an iphone (or other smartphone I would guess), I can use their phone as a mobile hotspot and therefore use my phone to pay for parking
  3. I can install the app on the other person’s phone, including my credit card details – would work with the wife, but clearly not going to happen with anyone else.
  4. Phone the number that they give to be able to park.

So what do I do if I’m alone and either don’t have change or the machine is not working? Well, in theory I can call the telephone number that they give in order to park. Have you ever tried that? I last did a few years ago, and if you’ve not already registered your credit card then it takes about 10 minutes. Also, there are a number of different apps, all of which need registering separately. Feels pretty unwieldy when you have 3 screaming kids in the car (which I often do).

So maybe calling the telephone number is the fall-back solution. Quite inelegant, though I may pre-register my credit card with the various apps so that at least I don’t have to do that whilst trying to park.

Quite inelegant, but that is clearly a theme of this project: The smartphone solution is convenient and often elegant, but ultimately interferes with a quality life.