My awakening moment about how smartphones fragment our attention span

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

I anticipated navigating other challenges, like how to deal with the cognitive dissonance of working for big tech. Could someone who worked for big tech use a flip phone? Yet I liked the idea, argued by Hari, Williams, and Newport, that we need to be aware of technology’s designs and ensure that tech is working for us rather than against us. I didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to technical innovations, but I grew increasingly skeptical that my smartphone was working for me.

This whole article combines many disparate sources (like Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism and Rolf Dobelli's Stop Reading the News) into a cohesive manifesto for why we should stand up and reclaim our collective attention spans.

It actually motivated me to take some action.

Last night, I went through every app on my phone and deleted the ones I no longer use. I wasn't too picky though; if I had even a slight inkling that I might need it in the future, I kept it.

I went from 314 apps to 133.

133 still seems like too much to me, but just imagine the cognitive and infrastructural burden that 181 apps was inflicting on me and my phone!

All that wasted bandwidth to download updates.

All those wasted notifications attempting to get me to come back in.

My home screen went from this:

An iPhone home screen with tons of apps on it

to this:

An iPhone home screen with far fewer apps on it

It's step one of being intentional with my technology, which is subsequently the first step towards getting my attention back.

Comparing these two screen shots is making me excited to make more cuts. Some of these apps will go away after we wrap up with a client project in the next couple weeks (like Teams and Protect) or when I finish up physical therapy (like Medbridge Go).

Others (like Untappd or MN Beer) are ones that don't really need a front page billing all the time in my life.

More cuts to come in the weeks ahead, to be sure!

Continue to the full article