To smartphone or not to smartphone?
September 15, 2012 4:12 AM   Subscribe

To smartphone or not to smartphone? Can I have the advantages without being sucked in by the electronic leash?

Around 6 months ago I bought a Sony Ericson Xperia Arc and the device is fantastic. For simplicity it's been a real bonus - I've been able to throw out my camera, gps, even my guitar tuner! When going about with small kids this is great.

However, I really like the idea of NOT being so wired and have made a real effort to limit internet time, email checking, etc. I no longer go on facebook and canceled my twitter account. I do not receive notifications when I receive emails and my goal is to check emails only 2-3 times per day.

HOWEVER, this does not work out in practice. Because I carry this fantastic little device around with me I inevitably end up getting bored and checking email. Or I need to SEND an email and I end up reading emails that get sent to me.

In short, what can I do to have the benefits of a smartphone but stop myself from getting sucked in?

(FYI, I know that other questions like this have been asked before but I didnt see anything quite worded like this and focused on smartphones).
posted by BigBrownBear to Technology (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You could set it to Wi-Fi only, so that you just don't have unlimited data access on the 3G network. If you're really worried about your self control, change your data plan to the lowest so you have to budget your data.

Typed in bed, on my smartphone.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:24 AM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your problem is a psychological one, not a technical one. A technical solution might help you, but in reality the other part needs fixing. The phone won't help you there.

Any technical measure we suggest is going to be setup by you, and you can just as easily un-set it up.

... but stop myself from getting sucked in?

Yeah.. this is probably a good summary of the problem. You're moving the responsibility of the situation from yourself to the phone. You need to address this.

Try this:

  • You don't have to send that e-mail now. You know this. Set a time each day for e-mail and do it then.
  • If you really want a technical thing, looked at timed profiles: on Android you can use Llama to do things at certain times. Maybe you could switch off data apart from certain times a day.
  • You say you're bored. Don't get bored - read a book, go for a walk, take up sport, find a hobby.

  • posted by devnull at 4:32 AM on September 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

    Don't get bored

    Yup. Whatever big project you want to be making headway on, work on that. Establish a routine of doing the stuff you want to have done. Once you get past the initial discomfort of putting your butt in the proverbial chair day after day, devices will seem a lot less important.
    posted by jon1270 at 4:56 AM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Something that helps me compartmentalize the email thing better is I have two emails: one for business and family stuff that I really do, actually need to know about, and one for everything else: all my update alerts and mailing lists and online friends and anything that's never time sensitive.

    You'd think that would result in my constantly checking my two emails more (I work from home and don't have particularly set hours), but what actually happens is that I mentally assign myself a status: am I "at work"? Then I have my work email alerts on. If I'm not, I don't check my work email at all. I'm effectively "out of the office." If there's an emergency and I'm unresponsive, they know to actually call my number. This happens almost never. The other catch-all email gets checked regularly, but it's all entirely low pressure stuff, and there's never any stress in checking it or not being able to get online to it. That results in me checking it less, too.

    You could maybe set up a more elaborate system of folders and filters for your email? Set up a filter so the stuff that you really need to know about comes in to one particular folder, and you only get alerts on that, and never anything else? It was a bit of a pain splitting my online presence in two, but it was a convenient time to upgrade to a grownup email with an actual name for work and family communication, and leave my "I picked it when I was 13!" email for the inconsequential stuff. It might not be worth the hassle for you. You really have to let yourself choose not to be available, and that's a problem you can't solve with email filters.
    posted by Mizu at 6:55 AM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

    I agree that this is more behavioral than technical. However, you can set your device to only fetch e-mail manually, so when you pick the device up to use it, you don't see the new messages. And good for you for putting family first.
    posted by cnc at 10:19 AM on September 15, 2012

    As a friend of mine says, the only difference between a smartphone and an Invisible Fence collar is that the dogs don't pay for the collars themselves.
    posted by 4ster at 6:17 PM on September 15, 2012

    Response by poster: Haha. good point on the invisible fence. Let me rephrase this a little more simply - is there a way to set times when my email is checked without turning off data in general? This seems to be a good way to keep things in line.
    posted by BigBrownBear at 2:50 AM on September 16, 2012

    « Older What happens if federal appeals courts give split...   |   New roommate at 40, where do I start? Newer »
    This thread is closed to new comments.