The Dumb iPhone Challenge


Recently, I’ve come to recognize my overconsumption of technology. Of course, I am typing this on my computer, but what I am specifically referring to is my cell phone usage. My cell phone sits in my pocket or on the table beside me almost all day long, no matter where I am.

And, if you know anything about the Enneagram test, I am a 5. I am the type of person that wants to know everything about everything. If I come across something that I don’t know, I go straight for my cell phone, easily becoming engrossed and obsessive about understanding it, blocking out all that is around me. My wife is the one that usually has to point this out to me, saying something to the tune of: “Caleb, your obsessing. Be present.”

On top of this, we have an 18-month-old in our home, which leads me to realize, on a daily basis, that time truly is special. If we are not intentional with our time, we can quickly miss out on what actually is important. With every little beep, buzz, and vibration, we can become inundated by the tool that was made to help us, not control us. 

As I began to recognize this issue in my life, I ran across the Siempo Phone on Kickstarter. While I considered purchasing it, and still maybe will, I realized that I could probably set enough restrictions on my iPhone to somewhat mimic the Siempo Phone. So I began removing apps and changing the restriction settings, removing everything that I could spend a significant amount of time on.

Now, not everyone struggles with this. If you do not, then more power to you! But that is not me. And if you are like me, I want to challenge you to dumb down your smartphone, for at least one week.

As mentioned elsewhere, true minimalism is about minimizing the unimportant in order to maximize the important. Minimalism does not, and should not, stop with your possessions in your home. Our goal is to be intentional in all areas of life, in order to flourish as human beings.

The Dumb iPhone Challenge

For one week, refrain from using your cell phone to access social media, web browsers, or any other app that has a stream or feed. Personally, I went from nearly 100 apps to about 30. The only remaining apps that use data on my phone are basic apps that I am unable to spend a significant amount of time on.

What’s great about this challenge is that you can mold it to best fit your needs. Whatever the case, be sure to look at every single app, always asking, “Does this app help or hinder my effort to be intentional?” Really think about each one. Think about your relationships. Think about your goals. Think about your passions.

This will look different from person to person. For example, some people may find it easy to get sucked in to email, but personally, I only receive about 1 per day.

Challenge: Complete

After having completed this one-week challenge, I have decided to continue with it. Making my phone a Dumb iPhone has had numerous positive results. Here are five:

  1. More Time for Goals – I was really surprised by how much more time I had this week. Rather than browsing the internet or reading blogs in the evening, I was able to read books and write blogposts, which are, in fact, two of my goals for 2017.
  2. Be More Present – As this was one of my intentions with doing this challenge, I thought about it a lot. I was able to notice when I would normally turn to my phone, which reminded me that I desire to be remembered as someone who is not only physically present, but mentally and emotionally present as well.
  3. Better Relationships – Of course this was only a week-long test, but even during that amount of time, I was able to realize how much my phone hindered my relationships.
  4. Better Sleep – This is not a joke: I slept better this week than I have for a while! Rather than sitting in bed, researching ideas and topics on my phone or scrolling through my social media outlets, because “I wasn’t tired yet,” I went to sleep.
  5. Longer Battery Life – This was a welcomed surprise that I had not even considered. But during this entire week, I only charged my phone 3 times (as opposed to 7)!

In the end, I am extremely grateful that I tried this experiment. Let me know if it is helpful to you! Best of luck!


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