Day 20: Limiting Your Smartphone Use Means Going Against Biology

One of the major benefits I have noticed over the last twenty or so days without a smartphone has been my increased productivity. It is not as if I have all of a sudden become the guy out of Limitless, but there has been a definite amount of clarity and lack of distractions when trying to complete something or focus on a task. Without a smartphone, there is not much that can distract me.

I'd like to go into exactly why this is the case. Today I watched an incredible video that sums up a lot of the topics I have been discussing over the last few weeks. The narrator discusses how your phone, or even your internet browser, can interrupt your productivity very easily. He talks about how if he was in the middle of an essay and couldn't think of the next word, he would instinctively check his phone or his email. I found that I do this constantly (I have even checked a few emails/websites while writing this piece), and in many ways, there is something very destructive about this. The video goes into the science as to why we constantly check our emails, etc. Much of it has to do with the dopamine response we are looking for. The video puts forth the theory that even though we may find 80 percent of our Facebook newsfeed boring, it is that last 20 percent that we are searching for that provides a dopamine hit.

The goal for this smartphone challenge was not to increase productivity. In fact, it was to limit the amount of information that I was intaking. What I have realized over time is that limiting the amount of smartphone use means lowering the amount of times I'll be searching for a dopamine hit. This is really the most challenging aspect to the challenge.