What I Learned Using a Dumb Phone for a Month

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In November I switched from an iPhone to a dumb phone to promote focus and more engagement with real life. I thought I knew what I was getting into. I thought the change would be permanent. But I gave up after just a month and went crawling back to my smug little iPhone. In this episode, I’ll share the thinking process that led me to pursue a low-tech solution, what I learned from the experiment, and the steps I’ve taken since switching back to dumb down my iPhone.


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  • Hi Reagan,

    I recently upgraded to an iPhone 13 after having an iPhone 7 for a long time. I’ve been experimenting with the Downtime feature. It’s fairly helpful— except for when I override the limits. It still requires willpower, but is somewhat of a deterrent/reminder.

    Still, the best solution I have found for myself is putting my phone in a timed lock box for an hour at a time. No willpower needed, and no temptations either (since I’d have to break open the box). Just peace and quiet to focus and write, or merely unplug for a while.

    • I’ve heard of those timed lock boxes but never tried them before. I’ll have to look in that. I definitely prefer solutions that just completely take willpower out of the equation. I feel like I can’t fully focus if part of my mind is being dedicated to resisting the urge to check my phone.

  • I would love to go back to a “dumb” phone, but smart phones are part of the air we breathe. But you can uninstall InstTwitFaceTok. Only access those on your laptop or a tablet.

    • It’s true. There’s really no going back, sadly. I keep most social media off of my phone too. Definitely helps!