Self-imposed iPhone diet

by Radio Somewhere

(Not as tasty as a Blackberry diet, ha ha!)

Seriously, I have imposed some limitations on the use of my new iPhone 5S, which I have had for two months now. Over the last year, I found myself spending far too much time on Twitter — literally following interesting hash tags all evening, such as #ukstorm (they had quite a winter in the British Isles!), #BlackFriday (in celebration of my longer working in retail) and #gobucks (to know how the Buckeyes did in case my boss needed gentle handling at work the following Monday.) I can also waste a lot of time on Google Earth and YouTube.

In order to justify the new iPhone, I have made it my sole internet device, using the Personal Hotspot feature for laptop access at home. So, I need to use data sparingly anyway. I have a 2GB allowance, which is plenty if I stay off YouTube and Google Earth. So, I deliberately did not install those apps at all! I did install Twitter and Facebook, but have cellular data turned off, so that they are for time wasting at hotspots only. But, two months later, I find myself rarely checking in even when WiFi is available. I think it took only a few days for that bad habit to be broken.

I turned off cellular access for a large number of apps. Exceptions are OneBusAway, because I like to know when the bus is really coming as opposed to when it is due; Weather Channel, because I walk a lot and it is super handy to be able to consult radar images when rain is moving in; LinkedIn and apps I use for job searching; and a few other things for which I want the convenience of anywhere-access — such as WordPress!

Something else I learned the hard way is that you can inadvertently chew up lots of data if you queue up downloads while connected to WiFi, only to lose the WiFi connection early on so that the downloads proceed over your cellular connection. I once set up a lot of podcasts to download to my 3G iPad while I was reading a book at Starbucks. The WiFi cut out, but as I wasn’t actually using the iPad, I did not notice. And because the podcasts were each relatively small files, there was no “file too large” interrupt. I used up around 300 MB of data unintentionally! So, this time I have turned off cellular for the App Store, iTunes and Podcasts, to make sure it does not happen again. And that has ended up being part of the diet too, because another favorite time-killer of mine was browsing apps and podcasts.

Overall, I would say this has been a success — and I am enjoying the convenience of having an iPhone without it dominating my life. I have more time for other things now, such as reading real books and taking walks; I am sleeping better; and, my eyes are looking and feeling less tired.

I sometimes miss life before the internet; but as it is here to stay, and almost impossible to get by without (especially if looking for a job), it is nice to be able to strike a balance.