Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Distraction-free phone

My phone doesn’t make any noise. At all. It doesn’t vibrate or chime or randomly play music. It’s finally a distraction-free phone.

It’s fantastic.


I didn’t like when my phone interrupted me, startled me out of thought with a vibration or a lit up screen. I can’t stand notifications or the constant stare of the little red circles with how many things I still have to deal with.

10 unread emails. Look at me. Look at me. LOOK AT ME!

So I turned it all off. The only notifications I get are for text messages and calls. Nothing else pops up across my screen. My unread emails don’t stare at me from my home screen. People I follow on social media can’t interrupt a phone call. My apps only get my attention when I open them.

When I need to focus, I can turn my phone face down and completely forget it’s there.

It’s peaceful. I look at it when I need to, not when it’s crying out for attention.

I know it’s not my phones fault. But we have a better relationship now that we’ve set some boundaries.

I don’t worry about missing “important” calls. I’m not expecting the president to call anytime soon, so returning a call doesn’t seem like the end of the world. My family and friends (even my grandmother) text me instead of calling, and most people know that I keep my phone on total silence and only check it occasionally.

If I am waiting for something truly important (a scheduled call, a friend who might need timely directions, the food delivery person telling me they have arrived), I keep my phone next to me face up. The light from the screen is enough to get my attention. If I can’t have it in my line of sight, only then will I turn on the vibration.

It’s changed the way I interact with my phone.

When I first switched it to total silent, I was constantly going to look for my phone to see if anyone had messaged me. I started to realize just how much I was looking at my phone. Minutes would go by and I would find myself walking back to it to check it again.

After a while I stopped checking. I started leaving it in other rooms. Forgetting to take it out of my bag when I got to work. Running to the store quickly without it.

It was liberating. The knowledge that I didn’t have to respond right away, that no one would be upset, the world wouldn’t end, was like being told you didn’t have to go to school that day.

Now when my phone distracts me, it’s because of something I am doing. It’s in my control to turn it face down, to put it in my bag, to leave it on my dresser, to stop starting at it. I’m working on resisting the urge to pull out my phone when I have a free second or I want to avoid what I’m actually doing. I don’t have games, and Twitter and Facebook got the boot a while ago (I still use Instagram, although I’m trying to limit how much). Each time I don’t give it my attention is another step in the right direction.

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