YLW (Q1 2023)

Quarterly look at my Year of Living Without.  January - March were phone grayscale mode, no sweets and no beverages other than water and black coffee, respectively.

Being a quarter of the way through my first year of living without exercise, I thought it would make sense to evaluate how these first three months have gone and how they’ve informed my plans for the rest of the year.

Two out of the three months have led to a lasting shift in doing without things. That wasn’t the goal of the exercise, but I do find it interesting that some things just feel like changes I’ve become comfortable making for a longer duration. I’m not saying these things will never change, but they’ve become defaults that any deviation from will likely be momentary. I continue to have my iPhone and Apple Watch in grayscale mode. When I need the color I turn it on briefly, until I’m done with the task where it assists me, then I turn it back off. It’s a quick triple-click of the side button away and that’s made it feel easy enough to toggle for everyday use.

I’ve gone back to enjoying sweets when the mood strikes me. I likely overdid it a bit with Easter egg candy, but otherwise I don’t feel like this is anything I’m doing in excess with any regularity after February. So far in April, I’ve only had water and coffee without missing a beat. I did reintroduce milk/cream for the occasional cortadito espresso drink, but I consider that to be in the coffee category at this point.

April is pooping in the dark month, which, so far, I’ve done without failure. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that this will be another one that sticks with me beyond this month. Not only is the process more reflective and focused, it feels like I’m not using it as an excuse to use the phone passively.

Looking ahead, I’m adding a few more without” items to the list, but haven’t decided which months from July to December they’ll occupy. I’ll make that decision sometime in May and update the original post with the planned schedule. The new items include:

  • No complaining (inspired by this article from 2007)
  • No online purchases from my phone
  • No phone other than for navigation/CarPlay use

The last one sounds more wild than it is really intended to be in practice. I have an Apple Watch w/ cellular connectivity that allows me to take calls from my family and read/respond to texts. I have an iPad that I can use from anywhere when something with a larger screen is needed. I work from home in front of a computer with access to the internet. Given all those factors, the phone feels like it becomes just another passive screen to grab time that could be otherwise more focused on something else (even if that something else is writing on the iPad). I guess what I’m saying is that the intention of that month isn’t to remove screens, it’s to use them more intentionally for purposes that are generating some value, vs. just mindless interaction with the screen that fits in my pocket. I’d originally planned to switch to a dumb” phone (i.e. a flip phone) for that month, but after some realistic conversation with my wife (and recognizing that all of the other Apple devices being options to replace the capabilities in more intentional ways) I’ve ditched the dumb” phone for a no phone” approach.

As always, if you care to engage with me on any of this year-long experiment, get in touch!

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