Ryan Schachte's Blog
Simplifying my life with more devices Mindfulness through smartphone reduction
5 min read
1.11.24
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In 2007 Steve Jobs announced the iPhone which created the forward trend of pushing more things into a single device. Since that time, I’ve been able to shove meditation apps, calendars, social media, browsers, GPS, music, shopping and more into my pocket device. I’ve gotten notifications, pagers for work and Twitter notifications instantly. Productivity was at an all time high! Or was it?

In the “beginning” where the beginning lasted many years for me, this trend was great. At least it felt great anyway. That was until we became addicted to our devices and morning doom scrolling was the norm. It was at this point during 2020 where doom scrolling was at it’s peak that I decided to simplify.. with more devices.

One thing I appreciated about the devices of the early 00’s was they typically did one thing and one thing well. The notion of passive advertisements and learning from my usage didn’t exist. The “purity” of my electronics usage was at an all time high before the smartphone era and I wanted to recreate it. During this reflection I knew I needed music, communication, reading and notes. I wanted to have the ability to detach from the constant stream of now. No news, no ads and no buzzing notifications.

Music

In middle school I had a lime green iPod Nano that was glued to my waist everywhere I went. The experience was fairly pure because I had a pre-existing set of music that I intentionally picked and listened to on the go. This is the music experience I wanted to recreate. During the pandemic I went through a series of old iPods and landed on really enjoying the iPod Classic and iPod Mini, both of which I was able to rebuild off parts from Ebay and the Chinese markets.

The beauty of the iPod Classic 5.5th generation is the audio quality is pretty unbeatable, even by today’s standards. This was the last model that featured a high quality DAC compared to later generations and really serves it’s purpose of music delivery very well. There is something hard to put into words, but being able to go on a walk with just your music and no infinite radio by the likes of Spotify or Apple music is pretty liberating.

Communication

This is the biggest one and also the most controversial. In the US it’s actually pretty hard to find a “dumb phone” that is compatible on my network whilst also being usable by today’s standards. This is where I landed on the Light Phone II.

At face value while the phone seems “dumb” it really offers everything I need. To give a high-level overview, I have the ability to:

The core benefit here is that you cannot be sucked into doom scrolling with this device. It features an e-ink display similar to the Amazon Kindle and is very smooth on the eyes. The device battery is pretty good depending on usage and has reduced overall phone time by a lot. It’s not until you detach from your smartphone where you really begin to feel liberated and start to notice how everyone else is glued to their devices in the wild.

You can use my referral link to purchase a Light Phone today..

Reading

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but I’m still a heavy proponent of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. It’s cheap, lightweight, has incredible battery and just works.

In 2023 I was able to knock out 25 books (follow me on Goodreads!), which is made extremely easy when you can slip one of these small devices into your pocket. Again, I’m not a full purist here and still purchase physical books because the feeling is unbeatable.

Notes

While I’m not a full purist and do use tools like Obsidian for writing and syncing Markdown notes, nothing beats pen and paper.

For this, I’ve singled in on 2 solutions:

The quality of the notebook is very high, lays flat and has a decent GSM. I’ve become a big fan of fountain pens because I can refill the cartridges for cheap and the quality and feeling of the writing feels amazing.

Conclusion

While this setup may not work well for everyone, I strongly recommend people at least dabble in the idea of simplifying their life by stepping back and reducing usage of their smart devices. It’s a liberating experience that promotes mindfulness at a whole new level. Some of these are much easier to standardize in your life than others (Kindle vs Lightphone), but I have done 5+ months using only the Lightphone and it became easier with each passing day.

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Author: Ryan Schachte Published: 2024-01-11