My Phone is Dumb

By: Derek Wellock

You might have seen in the media sources, possibly on your phone, where the big bosses in the tech world are saying how addictive cell phones are designed to be, and they are using them less, and they are not letting their kids have them either.  How facebook and Instagram is designed to suck you in. If you go out to a restaurant, walk around a store, or just go around town you will will see people stuck to their phones. The best is when you see the couple at a dinner table who are both looking at their phone’s with little to no communication.  It truly is tragic. The youth of today have forgot how to have human interaction. As I am raising one child and have another one on the way, I noticed a couple things.


The first, is how addicted we are to our phones.  I found myself always checking it subconsciously, most the time not even realizing what I am doing.  Email was my biggest offender. I felt I always had to be the go to guy, and respond to emails 24-7.  The first thing in the morning and the last thing before I go to bed. Get to those emails. Over the last 4 years, I would be at dinner with my wife, the most important person in my life then, ding or vibrate in my pants and boom, phone came out and I checked the unimportant message and turned away from what was important.  Most the time it was useless information, but sometimes is was a topic that would pull my brain immediately out of our conversation, this was the worst. Cassie told me I was addicted to it, and it was a little bit annoying that we couldn’t share dinner without me being attached to my work and phone. Fast forward a couple years.  

Cassie and I have our first child, Claire.  The thing about kids is they pick up everything.  Well, I would come home and get on my IPad in the evenings.  Read mostly, but still on the iPad.  Claire also has an iPad.  We set it up for cartoons and games when we travel and work, but when she started seeing me on my iPad she wanted to be on her iPad too.

After a week she was addicted to her iPad, she would have an absolute fit if she couldn’t play it at night!  As some of you know, my daughter Claire does not sleep well.  We have struggled with her sleep since she was born, she always gets a couple hours of napping in, but mom and dad do not. (Insert sad face here).  So soon after we noticed her addiction to her iPad, we stopped it because the afternoon stimulus might be affecting her sleep. It took a couple weeks till she stopped asking for it every day.   This experience got me to think about how detrimental this technology can be to us.


Doing some reading.  I read the book “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown,  which is a fantastic book that has the potential to change your life.  In the book, Greg discusses how we no longer have time to day dream, we always are on the next task, constantly filling our schedule with busy work that jumps up and takes our day away.

How many times are you doing something important and then a text comes in, or the dreaded group text that doesn’t stop? How quickly are you sucked out of your important work, your family, etc etc?  I found this intriguing, because with all the distractions around me daily, I would get stressed about not getting my important work done.

There are enough hours in the day, I am supposed to spend 8 hours working, 8 hours personal, 8 hours sleeping.  I felt like I was working for 12, which I was at the gym for 12-14 hours a day, and I would still have work to do when I got home. This was effecting everyone around me and I was not the best person at work.

There were many days, that as a gym owner, I didn’t even exercise because work got stacked up.  I could try to be the hard ass entrepreneur, who works, works and works more, keeps a pace no one can match, and always getting shit done, pushing the envelope of modern fitness hahahahah. This was crap, because I wasn’t enjoying it, in my quest, I was sacrificing those closest to me, and I truly believed that I could do more meaningful and quality work in less time if I got my shit figured out.  Meaningful work wasn’t getting done the way I would like. My mind was always going and never at rest. The guy who on the outside looks like he has the greatest job in the world was getting burned out. Burnout is a real thing.


To fix this burn out I had to start looking at things in my life.  I download a program called Freedom. It is an app that tracks and blocks your tech usage.  I noticed that I was always getting pulled away from important work to do random non-important work, then at the end of the day when I got home and the non important work stopped coming in, ie. office interruptions, text messages, emails, I had to do my important work.  Program workouts, do payroll, etc.

These dings on the phone and computer surprisingly takes your brain away from your important work. A message or an email comes in, just clicking to delete it, takes your mind out of work. I read that it takes a person about 15-30 minutes to get their brain engaged into anything,  if it requires focus, it can take longer, most of us can be pulled out of engagement with just a simple ding. So get engaged, ding, get back engaged ding, and there you go, an hour of time wasted and nothing got done. This does not mean we have subconscious work that isn’t getting done. I can do many tasks without thinking, but to write a week of programming for a client, or build and operations manual for the gym, these tasks take lots of focus to do well.

So every time I am pulled out of focus by my devices, meaningful work wasn’t getting done. Greg says in his book Essentialism, “You can multitask, but you can’t multi focus”. This is so true. My focus was being pulled many different directions all the time, all day. This was 100% my fault. So I decided to get rid of the things that pull my focus.


First thing I did was make my phone a dumb phone.   I almost went to a flip phone again, but there are some things about a smartphone which have helped society.   I deleted every non essential app there is or shut it off. If we didn’t have it in the 90’s it wasn’t on my phone anymore.  This little experiment showed me how truly addicted I was. I would randomly open my phone to look at email, Instagram, fakebook, etc and then see they aren’t there.

This was subconsciously taking place all day for about a week. After about 2 weeks I felt I had broke the habit. I started watching all the people around me, how addicted people are to their devices.  I have seen so many people answer phone calls during their workout at the gym. I am sure some are emergencies, but I bet most of them can wait an hour till your done working out. Constantly seeing people swipe their finger up the screen, classic insta and fakebook moves.  I recently heard a person say they couldn’t go poop if they didn’t have their phone. Like the phone is the trigger for the bowel movement. This is insane….


If you go to battery under settings on your iPhone you can see your usage now.  You might be surprised how much time you spend on some of these apps. I just heard of a person at the gym that in the last 7 days they spent 16 hours on Instagram.  That is 2 full nights of sleep, or 2 full days of work, but most important 2 full days of lost time with family. I was blown away. The addiction is real, and when you tell someone they are addicted, and they get immediately defensive, I laugh.  Classic signs of unhealthy addiction, like alcoholism.


Needless to say I am about 2 months into quitting my addiction.  I have a dumb phone and I am happier now. I am more productive with both my family and work.  I found lots of time but also I have now freed my brain to live in the present and not in the fake virtual world.  I go on dates with my wife and my phone stays at home. I no longer let it own me, I have even forgot it on multiple occasions now, and didn’t really care.  I was addicted, no doubt about it.

I see many people in my life who are addicted to the 10th degree and can get so much of their life and happiness back by going back to a dumb phone.   Give it a try. Back your phone up to a computer, then delete everything that is non essential. You end up with phone, messenger, calendar, notes and a couple others. Live with it for a couple weeks and see if it doesn’t make a difference in your life.    I am always open to talk about my journey with time management, productivity, and now living essential. I only do it over coffee or a beer, and there is always an invite for anyone who wants to take this journey to free your mind and your time.