There’s no app for this.

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There’s no app for this.

This morning I did something drastic (at least by my standards). I deleted every app on my phone.

That’s half true. I have a Google Nexus 5 which means I cannot delete a lot of Google’s own apps. This frustrates me as frankly I purchased the handset, I should get a say in what’s on it. But I suppose a strongly worded email to Google HQ will do as much as complaining in a blog post, so I’ll stick with plan A and just leave my feedback here.

Why did I delete them all? As part of my “flushing out my life” project I wanted to see how many apps I really used. And what mattered to me. I also read a statistic that 90% of apps are only opened one and then just left on phones.

I’m clearing out anything that makes me anxious from my life. As it turns out there’s loads. And it’s largely my own doing.

When I open my phone I enjoyed seeing loads of apps. I had so much choice and selection in where to spend my time. But in reality I wasn’t enjoying any of it. I was simply wasting that time on apps which I didn’t care about. I liked the false sense of worth I got from filling my screen with every option.

I guess this is linked to FOMO (or fear of missing out). A new(ish) phenomenon¬†where by people feel they’ll miss something or be left out if they don’t strive to be included from the start. How needy of us? I think it all boils down to wanting to feel a sense of belonging and love but because that’s a big risk and hard to achieve (especially with everyone living through their phones) we all just join in. Hoping to find a connection. And when we do, we feel the need to share that life experience online, to effectively make everyone else feel bad.

Well, no more for me.

I will install apps as and when I need to. So far I’ve got 10 which aren’t Google’s own (again, can’t delete them). These are my base. They’re all I need. And so now when I open my phone I’m not bombarded with choice and panic and most of all ways to remove myself from life, I have a few methods of communication. I’ve my music. I’ve my web browser. The note taking app I am writing this on (although I’ve start to carry a bit of paper with me, but that’s for another blog). And Kindle.

I don’t feel like I am missing out, I feel like I’m logging off. I feel less panic and worry and I’ve started to not have that feeling that “my work is never done”.

This has been helped by playing around with the settings on my gmail so that the new emails come on top and then “everything else” (as it is labeled) comes below. I can close the everything else window. So now, when I log into my gmail I have 3 maybe 4 emails to deal with (you can see how to do this here).

My monkey brain can’t deal with much more. Information over load doesn’t make you important. It makes you paranoid and adds to angst that none of us need. Don’t give yourself problems you don’t need.

Technology is meant to work for us. Not the other way around. Somewhere along the way we forgot that and someone in a big office somewhere noticed it and found a way of making money from us. And we just go along with it because otherwise we might need to be alone for a minute? Fuck that. I like my alone time.

A week ago I was on my phone before bed (as always before this project kicked in). I was sleeping alone, and unhappy about that. I wanted to feel a connection before going to sleep. I didn’t like the “you’re on your own” feeling. A feeling I’d half created for myself by having a relationship issue (long story short, we are on a break, it’s not entirely relevant here). I missed sleeping next to her, but then remembered I go on my phone every night if she’s there or not. I wasn’t focused on the person who mattered because my monkey brain thought quantity engagements was better than a quality connection. I hate that I was that person. So to start as I mean to go on, I put my phone on airplane mode and just sat there in silence. I embraced the loneliness. I took it head on like a truck. And cried a bit. Why? Partly because of my situation, but partly because of who I had become.

I’d highly advise you try the same or something similar. Just reinstall apps when you need them and see how many you actually require and how many you kept “in case” you were stuck on an underground tube and needed to do something to feel busy.

Almost all my friends say they’re tired. I’d bet good money that a big part of that is never letting their minds rest. And looking into a screen at every available opportunity doesn’t allow you to wind down.

If you need permission, here you go – I give you permission not to be busy. I promise nothing bad will happen and the space and time you give your mind will be beneficial to you. And if it’s not, you can always go back to your old habits.

PS another thing that helped me was unsubscribing to email newsletters. We all kinda like having a bunch of new emails because look how popular and connected I must be… I got loads of messages. But in reality these are brands requests on your time. And although it’s only maybe 30 seconds to open, scan and then delete a dominos pizza offer. For me, I’d rather pay full price than have a message constantly bleeping away in my inbox. I’d rather spend that time on my 2 own projects or with people I love. But that’s just my choice.

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Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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