Download: MP3 (12.1 MB)

I was on my way back from visiting family for the holiday and catching up on my listen and watch lists in the car. I’d taken my turn driving and now I was able to watch videos on my phone.

I was watching this interview with a very successful business man who used an older cell phone. He didn’t have a smart phone.

He explained that smartphones are a huge distraction. Instant messaging, emails, and social media are constantly sending a barrage of notifications and interruptions every 2 to 3 minutes all day long; it’s a complete killer of focus.

The true cost of a smartphone nowadays is not merely the $800 you spent on it for those hundreds of gigabytes of storage or the monthly fee you pay for data, but the value of the time lost using it.

He was explaining that you easily waste an hour a day because of it (and many people waste way more than just one hour a day). He said if you value your time at $100/hour, that’s 365 hours a year or $36,500 down the drain. But if you value your time at $1,000/hour, it’s a loss of $365,000 a year.

He’s right: it’s an utter waste.

It caused me to reevaluate my usage. I’m not quite ready to throw out the phone entirely, but I decided to make a significant step in that direction.

I took a look at my home screen and assessed the apps that I had there. I also looked at my phone usage stats: I found that my top four apps were time-wasters.

My top 4 apps were consumption apps.

I’d been pretty good about notifications up to this point. I had most notifications off including email. However the one app I had left was Twitter. I’d turned off favorite and retweet notifications long ago, but I still allowed got mention notifications. This is a total waste and distraction. I get no value out of that. There’s no reason I should be allowing mention notifications to interrupt the focus of my day. There’s absolutely no redeeming value or time-sensitive information that I need to see any sooner than checking once or twice a day.

So I rearranged my homescreen. I moved all of my consumption or time-wasting apps off of the homescreen. I put the consumption apps all the way over on page five so it’s very inconvenient to get to them.

I replaced all of the apps in my dock with a single app: a writing app called Drafts.

I’m removing the time-wasting consumption apps and replacing them with a production app.

The rule I’ve made for myself is this: every time I find myself going to tap on a consumption app, I have to write. Whether it’s a journal entry or a blog post or in this case, what you’re reading right now was written on my phone when I went to go look for a consumption app.

I want to be successful more than I want to satiate the desire to consume.

So this is my experiment. The idea is not to say I’ll never consume again or that there is not a time for consumption, but consumption should be scheduled. If I’m honest, I recognize that the true problem is I’m yielding to the temptation to consume during what should otherwise be focused work time and it ruins my effectiveness.

There’s a time to relax and there’s a time to consume. The time to consume is on sabbaticals and weekends. This is an attempt to reclaim my productivity and take hold of my success.

I may not be ditching the smart phone entirely, but I want to be successful. I want to control my life and how I spend my time. I want to decide when I should stop focusing and not let my phone decide it for me.

I rearranged things and changed my habits to align with my goal. In the first week alone of simply rearranging my apps, I found that my productivity shot through the roof. I wasted much less time when consumption apps weren’t easily accessible.

Hopefully this reminder inspires you to take an objective look at how you structure your homescreen and optimize it for production and not just consumption.