Breaking Things

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

I just bought a watch and I’m going to wear it (and here’s why)

A retro Casio F-91W wristwatch that I just bought.

Hands up if your phone has become your watch. Now, keep reading with your hand in the air like some crazy person if, whenever you go to check the time on your phone, you notice that there’s a notification of some sort from either Twitter, Facebook, or goodness–knows–what and — before you know it — you’ve lost half–an–hour and have somehow found yourself watching videos of kittens on YouTube.

The spiral of checking the time on my phone, seeing a notification, following the notification, and getting completely distracted happens so often that it has a considerable impact on my productivity. And so, as part of my reboot, I’ve decided to nip this particular distraction in the bud. And that’s why I bought a new watch yesterday. It's the little retro Casio you see in the photo*. I bought it, and I’ve started wearing it, because I want to separate an object that is supposed to help me measure time with one that vies for my attention any chance it gets with temptations of human interaction and promises of new, shiny, and interesting things for me to consume.

My iPhone is probably the greatest source of distraction in my life. Twitter coupled with infinite scroll is my personal Kryptonite. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that infinite scroll is evil; an endless time sink; the new crack… you get the idea. I can easily while away the hours on Twitter, one pull–to–refresh at a time. Each tweet is a little shot of dopamine and, like any drug, the effects become less potent with time until I'm left in the depths of a social hangover as I stare, brain-dead and zombie-like, at my screen.

Worse, if my phone is also my alarm clock, it becomes the first thing I say hello to in the morning. That seemingly harmless little sleepy greeting can easily turn into an endless distraction that results in me spending literally hours in bed. At the very start of the day. When I’m supposed to be at my most productive. When I’m supposed to be making things. That’s madness. So my phone is no longer my alarm clock. My humble little £15 Casio will be waking me up from now on with the robotic staccato of its beep–beep–beeps. And the tweets and all the rest of them can wait until I’m ready to deal with them on my own terms later in the day, once I’m up and ready.

Of course, separating my timekeeping device from my major distraction device is just one step in improving my daily routine. And it might take a little while to get used to. I still find myself instinctively reaching for my pocket to get at my phone when I want to check the time even though I’m wearing a wrist watch. It's not that old habits die hard, it's just that sometimes you have to keep hitting them over the head with something heavy until they do.

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