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I fired my iPhone

I spent two weeks without my iPhone. I was completely off the grid for the first week but then spent the second week online, on my MacBook Air and Kindle, but no iPhone.

I have had my iPhone turned on the past few days. I’ve used it as a phone, but I’ve largely stayed off of the web, email and twitter with it. Instead, I’m only done this when I’m in front of my computer. I played around a little with the new Gmail iPhone app (which I like) but I’ve been limiting my email to “intentional time” – early in the morning, late at night and when I have catch up time in between things.

I don’t miss my iPhone at all. It sits in my pocket most of the time. Every now and then I hop on a phone call and do a conference call with MobileDay. I used it for a map. I checked my calendar a few times.

Yesterday, it occurred to me that I was much more mentally engaged throughout the day in the stuff going on (I had a typically packed day). I had dinner with my brother at night. No phones were on the table, no checking in to Foursquare, no quick scanning of Twitter. This morning, I just spent an hour and went through the 200 emails that had piled up since 5:30 p.m. when I’d last checked my email. My inbox is empty.

There’s some magic peace that comes over me when I’m not constantly looking at my iPhone. I really noticed it after two weeks of not doing it. After a few days of withdrawal, the calm appears. My brain is no longer jangly, the dopamine effect of “Hey – another email, another tweet” goes away. I'm actually much faster at processing whatever I’ve got on a 27″ screen than on a little tiny thing.

Now, I’d love for there to be a way for me to know about high priority interrupts – things that actually are urgent. But my iPhone doesn’t do this at all in any discernible way.

I’m suddenly questioning the “mobile first” strategy. I don’t actually care about the hardware much – it’s going to evolve very rapidly. As is my way, I’m completely focused on the software. And I think the software is badly lacking on many dimensions. Since so much of the software is happening on the backend / in the cloud, we have the potential for radically better user interaction. But we are far from it.

My future, five years from now, has my “compute infrastructure” integrated into my glasses. I no longer have a smart phone – I simply have glasses. I have no idea if I carry a device around in my pocket or have an implant, nor do I care. Again, the hardware will happen. But I don’t want to live my life having all my emails appears in my glasses. And I especially don’t want a tiny keyboard that I can barely see anymore being my input device.

I don’t know the answer here so I’m going to run a bunch of experiments. I’ll spend some months, like this one, with email turned off on my phone. I’m going to dig deeper into “cross channel” software that helps me deal with the flow of information.

I may hack together a few things to help me manage it. And I’m continuing to shove more and more communication online – via email or videoconferencing – and away from the phone in the first place.

What’s missing is my control center. I’ve been looking for it for a while and never found anything that’s close, so I end up with a manual control center in my browser. Maybe I’ll stumble upon it – finally – this year. Or maybe I’ll create it. Either way, my smart phone is officially not working for me anymore.

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Brad Feld

Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for more than 20 years. Prior to co-founding the Boulder-based Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and Intensity Ventures, a company that helped launch and operate software companies. Brad is a nationally recognized speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship and writes widely read and well respected blogs at www.feld.com and www.askthevc.com. He holds bachelor's and master's of science degrees from from MIT. Contact him at brad@feld.com

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