A Month Without Notifications Changed My Life

One month ago I wrote an essay about my new phone set-up. I originally customized it in order to not be distracted all the time, especially because of my finals in university. Back then I thought, I would turn things back to normal as soon as I’m done with my exams. But Instead I kept the notifications off and let my homescreen be as minimal as possible. I also discovered the most incredible things.

Smartphone Interfaces Are Uneasy

First thing I noticed was that after I have got used to my plain white wallpaper for over two weeks I couldn’t put back a regular wallpaper. It made me feel uneasy. The same went with a regular launcher which offered me tons of apps right from my home screen. Since I have stayed with the minimal KISS Launcher approach with just me, the search bar and the exact thing I need from my phone.

Notifciations Make Me Feel Anxious

A big improvement to my prior life of a young adult using his smartphone “the normal way” is the lack of notifications. I do not hear them, I do not feel their vibration. If it is a message, I do not care until I deliberately choose to look at my phone. If it is just an app, there simply is no notification to be pushed to my homescreen/attention. Theoretically people can still call me and get through immediately, but nobody did since nothing of urgency really happened.

I did not expect this to have such a huge impact on my level of productivity (I studied more than I ever did before and had uninterrupted study time) and even now I get more things done than before. I remember things better. I feel less exhausted. There’s less weight on my shoulders. People didn’t even notice that I don’t instantly answer. I always felt obligated to answer my friends instantly, to know what’s going on the second it happened. After one month of digital deliberation I did not miss out once. Instead I was actively participating in life, actively talking to friends, having a great time. I actively wrote music, wrote blog posts, made tea, enjoyed food. I truly lived my life and will continue to do so.

I was so afraid to miss out. Ironically this made me miss out on life.

Thumbnail: Notifications by Leo Hidalgo (CC BY 2.0)

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