My Summer Device Diet

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Device Overload
Device Overload

I’m going on a diet! Who hasn’t said that around this time of year at some point during their lives? As summer approaches, many often begin the preparation of the summer body through diet, exercise, and determination. This summer I am taking back my brain. It’s feeling a bit mushy and not quite as alert as it once was. Maybe some of it has to do with getting a bit older, but I’m not willing to believe that. I have a serious theory about the cause, which is probably not so earth-shattering. I have developed some unhealthy device habits. I do a lot of scrolling and skimming. I am convinced that the amount of time I put forth in exploring ideas is far less than it used to be. The length of time that I persist in thinking deeply about any subject is shortening. The number of books that I read is on an alarming decrease. It’s time for a summer device diet, in an attempt to take back my brain.

The Devices

  • iPhone 5. I use my iPhone everywhere, because it is always with me. In addition to traditional telephone calls, I text family and friends around the world using both iMessage and Whatsapp. I check Facebook, Instagram, and my Memoir apps. I use RunKeeper to track my fitness activity and check  the Weather Channel to know what apparel is required during said fitness activity. Sometimes I use Tabata Pro to time my interval workouts at the gym. JEFIT is an app that I use to track weightlifting routines and progress. I also have circuit routines stored in both Evernote and Notes. My gym life doesn’t seem very streamlined, but I like variety and the various apps that I use reflects that. My iPhone is also my main source of music between my iTunes collection and streaming sites like Spotify and TuneIn Radio. Oh, how could I forget that my iPhone has kept me from getting lost more than once!
  • iPad Air. I use my iPad both at work and at home.
    • At work I use my iPad to access meeting agendas and action notes while in meetings outside of my office. I also access supporting documents and resources during meetings.
    • At home I use my iPad to check email, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I rarely answer email on handheld devices. Checking social networking really means just scrolling through the sites, occasionally sending an article to my Pocket (to read later) or pinning an interesting photo/idea (to reference later). I have magazine subscriptions through Zinio that I sometimes remember to look at and read. I used to read ebooks (purchased and borrowed from my public library) on the Kindle app. Once in awhile I do the USA Today crossword. My iPad has become my go-to device in the kitchen! It is always propped up on top of the coffee machine when I am cooking, following recipes.
  • Desktop. The only time and place that I use a desktop is in my office at work. I always have anywhere from 8 – 15 tabs open in my browser, school email up and running, calendar alerts, at least two documents in varying stages of creation, .pdf docs open as I research, music streaming from any number of US-based altrock radio stations… I will be leaving this behind when I close up my office later today.

The Habits as they currently exist…

  • iPhone. Communicating, texting, scrolling, researching, and working out.
  • iPad. Communicating, texting, scrolling, note taking, researching, cooking, and reading.
  • Desktop/Laptop. Communicating, creating documents, researching, reading, working, and online purchasing.

The Approach

I am under no delusion that my reliance on, and use of, these devices has become a vital part of my work and life flow. However, I know that a fair amount of my device use outside of work is mindless time filler that doesn’t require a lot of brainpower. That’s not to say that there isn’t a time and place for mindless time filler type of activities. It’s time to exercise moderation and stimulate my brain more deeply. Here’s my current plan:

  • 60 minutes of connected device time each day. Maybe in only one sitting, maybe in two sittings. Always a timer will be set.
  • Compulsive accessing of, and searching for, information will not be indulged. I will keep a handwritten list that I can refer to during connected device time.
  • Reading hard copies of books and magazines. I have plenty at my disposal between the ones that I already own and the public library.
  • iPhone will be used as a telecommunication tool. Calling and texting, iMessage and Whatsapp only, is necessary to remain in contact with family and friends. My iPhone will have its specific place on a kitchen counter (much like telephones were attached to a wall in days of yore). I will not carry it around the house with me, unless I am on a phone call.
  • Music. I can’t live without it. I will allow myself access to my iTunes collection and streaming sites.
  • Fitness apps. I’m not 100% certain what to do about these. Do I need to track every. single. run.? Nope. I do like to ensure that I am devoting a minimum time to each run (30 minutes). I like to check my pace. I like to run intervals. RunKeeper use needs further thought, but I can probably do without the other fitness apps that I use. Running and gyming device-free is something I’m not quite willing to give up, but this is a diet of moderation. Fitness apps require further thinking…
  • Kitchen Time. It will be a return to the cookbooks in my pantry and the public library. If there is a recipe that I require from a connected device, I’ll save it to my Evernote recipe folder and make it available offline.

This is my current plan. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. I’m sure the plan will evolve throughout the summer. I’ll report in throughout the summer with updates.

I would love to hear how you have practiced device moderation! Share your device dieting and moderation strategies in the comments section!



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