Killing email on the iPhone – 4 Days later

I love my iPhone. The problem is in the words of Jake Knapp: “I can’t handle infinity in my pocket.”
While writing my next book, that is about doing #iPadOnly I have really look into detail and take the time to evaluate and review some of my workflows, and of course having a section/chapter on how the iPhone complements the iPad also force me to look into how I was using my iPhone.
As I said on Tuesday, sadly a lot of my use was for distraction more than for focus. I spend hours reviewing mail (much more than I really though) even that I tend to check, process and respond on the iPad. I also spend hours follow links that take me to another link, that will most likely give me something to read on the other link. It was because of that reason that I turn email off and also delete Safari and Google Chrome.
I also said on Tuesday how interesting was the amount of times I got the configuration screen of the iPad, even when I was working on the iPad.
After four days without a proper browser I bring Safari and Chrome back on friday morning. First, now that I know that I don’t miss email on the iPhone (at least I have not miss it for the last four days) I need to check if the browser was also the real distraction or it was just the email.
So I turn the browser back, download Google Chrome (My work Browser) and continue the test. I was testing the assumption that email and the web where the biggest distractors, but having 1Password as an emergency browser I notice that it is not really browsing the big offender, so I decided to try to re-activate Safari and Chrome and test the assumption.
I can say that in the last four days I had really need email once. The interesting thing was that it wasn’t to actually receive an email as I originally though it was going to be, but in order to sent one. I don’t have yet the perfect solution, and I may or may not have it by the time this book is done, but without a doubt the test had been a really interesting one, and I am really happy that I did.
The most interesting part of this test is how much I am using my iPhone for other tasks that it is really good, because I am not getting constantly bug down by email. I don’t know if I will keep email turn off forever, but at least for now.

Killing Email from the iPhone

I am not the first one with this idea, but what will happen if you stop reading emails on the iPhone. The reality is that I prefer to process email on the iPad, but lately I have been noticed that I have so many read emails when I open email on the iPad, so I am reading, but I am no processing. I begin noticed that I am opening email on the iPhone looking for something, (don’t ask me what, because honestly I don’y know) and I am not processing emails.
I have write a lot about distraction, focus and concentration. I have joked for years that one of those things that I am really, really good, is that I can distract myself better than any one, I am really good at it.
When I make my iPad my main machine I did it looking for more focus and concentration as well as to be able to be more effective. I am even writing a book about living #iPadOnly with Michael Sliwinski that will be released soon.
I am not the first person that it is considering what their iPhones are doing on their pockets, Stephen Hackett try to get rid of his iPhone (regardless of the fact that he failed, the exercise was the important part), Jake Knapp, Robin Sloan, Peter Cohen, Michael De Groote among others are getting rid (or trying) or simply limiting the iPhone capabilities to keep the tool as a productive tool and not only as a simple distraction tool.
The reality is that if my iPhone stop being a productive tool or even worse it is a distraction tool; why I want to have it? I really don’t need to have a distraction on my pocket. That far I understood, but it wasn’t clear for me what was the precise problem until I read this post. Since then I have been thinking on this, and giving it an honest time to journal and think about it.
I have done many things in order to improve my Focus and Concentration, I begin my day at 4:00 A.M, I respect agreements, I have learn to say NO to myself with intention, I live a live with much less things, I have simplify many things, except my iPhone…
When you read Jake Knapp article at Medium there is a line that hit me really hard, he says he can’t handle “infinity in (his) pocket.” and if I am honest, me neither. I can handle infinity period. I work better on situations that I can be limited, it is in part why I love to work on my iPad, I remove the infinity power of the equation and leave the effective working only.
He also wrote: “I don’t have what you’d call the world’s greatest attention span,” and to be honest mine is also terrible. If mine will be great I would had not had spend years trying to discover focus and concentration. I really struggle with this and it is because of that, that I have found any and all different ways to prevent distractions so I can use my attention.
I am not saying I am getting rid of my iPhone, I am just going to stop checking emails on it. At least temporarily. The idea is to eliminate the distractions, the reality is that I prefer to process email on the iPad, so checking then on the iPhone the only thing that generates it is that sometimes I check email more than once (ok, more like one thousand but you got the idea). I wasn’t aware how many times I was doing this until I turn the email off on the iPhone and got this screen a lot.20130423-072246.jpg
My iPad it is with me most of the time, and I can tether to check emails there. If the iPad it is not there I should not be checking email, so I better do other stuff with the phone, or nothing at all. My main machine is an iPad.
The problem is that email give me a window of distraction bigger than what I can handle. It was interesting a soon as I turn the email on the iPhone I stop pulling my iPhone from my pocket. (ok it was like I got nervous and eventually stopped)
You may ask, what if you are traveling and need to check an email? I can always turn email ON again if I am out of about and need to access it for some reason. The goal is not to do it every second.
I got rid of my email on the MacBook years ago, when I adopt the iPad as my main machine because the iPad was a better processing experience. I may say that recently Mike Vardy ruined for me a little that experience when he bring to my attention that you can’t sort email to show the oldest first. (thanks Mike!) It’s been bothering me since he mentioned. I hope to find a solution for that or maybe I can add it to someone wish list for iOS7.
There had been less than 24 hours since I turn email on the iPhone, I have seen the configuration screen more times that what I am willing to admit, but I have not missed email on the iPhone for a second. Last night as I was out and about I want it to check for something, pull the iPad, connect it to the web tethering with my iPhone and checked that the email I was expecting had not arrived yet. It was at that moment that I noticed that if I would had email on my iPhone I would had most likely review thousand of times instead of one. So far, I call this a success.

TIP #110: If doesn't work, get rid of it.

I mentioned this tip in my book 25 Tips for Productivity and it is something that I had always found interesting, how we hold to things even when they don’t work for us. The reality is that regardless of the cost, if something doesn’t work you should get rid of it.
We all had got computers, tablets, phones and even more expensive things that simply didn’t work and had prove to be useless. It is because of the cost of the thing that we decide to keep it to see if there is any way that the thing will be useful.
The reality is that we waste an incredible amount of valuable time that we could use to do important things trying to make this thing work in our workflows simply to end up frustrated and sure that next time we should try to make it work.
Maintain an object that doesn’t work for you is a waste of time and without a doubt against personal productivity.

TIP #109: WRITERS: Write and Edit in different places.

Write and Edit are two really different processes. Both are exhausting, but really different. With the years and the books I had created I had learn the process of creation and edition not only required different eyes, but different platforms.
In my case I write using Byword on the iPad. I like to write in black background with white font. When I edit, I also use the iPad but I do it on Plain Text, using white background and black font. I could do that on Byword but I like that using Plain Text I don’t need to change how one or the other is configured.
My brain associate the black background with creation, freedom, not worry bout mistakes or things. Instead on a white background, my mind gets more critical, looking for errors and more that I am doing.
The simple difference of the color on the screen allow me to have two different places to work. The difference may be simple, but it is powerful.

TIP #108: Establish a Lunch Time and make sure others respect it.

Many years ago I decided that if I didn’t respect my lunch time, no one will. I established a simple rule. My last meeting was at 11:30am or need it to be after 1:30pm. From 12 to 1:30pm I wasn’t going to have one. If for any reason you needed to meed with me, you need to invite me for lunch.
Honestly I had more than one free lunch because of this, but that wasn’t the objective. The objective was not to lose my lunch time again. Many people I know get to the end of their working day without any lunch or anything, because they have been from meeting to meeting. In general no one will respect your lunch time, unless you begin respecting it and asking people to do it.

#iPadOnly. A fun Experiment. A change of Paradigm.

**This may or may not be on my next book, that I am co-writing with Michael Sliwinski, where we are talking about be #iPadOnly. It was wrote for the first draft of the book, but as anything on a first draft, it may or it may not reach the final release.***

When I got my iPad on April 2010, I never though that it was going to be my main machine soon after that. I was in love with my iPhone and (you may call me Apple FanBoy, but it is more Steve Jobs FanBoy) I was sure that Steve Jobs Vision was going to take us somewhere. I just wasn’t expecting that it was going to be so far.
I have been writing about my experience of my iPad as my main machine for a while as well as my friend Michael Sliwinski. He took the challenge on 2012 and never look back.
We decided to co-write a book on our experiences working with #iPadOnly. We are working hard to release this book before WWDC, and it had been not only super fun to write, but I have discover so much in the process. Some things that I was doing before I begin writing this book I have stop doing, others I had learn in the process of review what I do or interacting with the texts of Michael. I have learned so much on how to work on the iPad that I use everyday that had been really interesting.
It had been an opportunity to see, evaluate, re-test and acquire new assumptions on why and how this idea of #iPadOnly it is really cool. We don’t stop long enough to evaluate in detail or tools, our structure, our environment.
I have always been fascinated to the idea that Michael re-do his office almost every year, but it did not click on me the why until I begin co-writing this book, the reason is that it force you to really see in detail what work and what doesn’t, and more importantly, what stopped working and should be removed.

One more thing:
I will be releasing more stuff (as I know Michael is doing too) but if you have questions, things that we should cover, or mention or you wish to specifically know about this process, please let me know here or by email. I am sure if we can we will not only include it in the book, but you may get some cool credit.

TIP #107: Write a Thank You Note. Every Week.

We all have people we are grateful. Sadly we failed when we don’t say thank you often. I have for a while a recurrent task in my system that said: Send a Thank You Note” and every week I make the effort to send one.
Many times when I start I sent more than one (that it is fine) but I try at least to send one per week, every week.
As of today, I had accomplished more than one smile. Mission Accomplished!

TIP #106: 24 hours mad. Then you need to start again.


“Resentment is like taking poison and hope the other person dies”
Saint Augustine

How many times we stay mad with other people, to the point that we forgot the why? I still remember when I was going to get married and the priest told us that we should have an expiration on any disagreement of 24 hours. Once this time happen, we need it to start again.
That’s one of those rules that we had try to use for the last ten years and had been really useful. Not everyone had last 24 hours, but we had done a big effort so they last a limit amount of time and start over.

TIP #105: Drink more water. Yes, more water.

For those that know me for a while, know that there was a moment in my life that I drank more than 24 cans of diet coke, per day. Drink water had never been something easy for me. The characteristic flavor of plain water it is not something that really get my attention.
I had learned that the more water I drink, the more focused and concentrated I can stay in the work I had at hand. Even when my brain claimed that we should have another coffee, in reality I accomplish more drinking water.
I don’t love the idea of drinking water, simply like many things in my life I had learned to establish certain rules that help me to obtain better results. While I am working I drink coffee and water. Each time I make a cup of coffee I pour a glass of water. I can’t have another coffee until I finish the glass of water. While working I try to avoid anything else that it is not coffee and water. The result is interesting since now I had more than 5 cups of coffee instead of ten cups of coffee.

TIP #104: WRITERS: Make sure that writing is fun

Many times I get asked how I can generate so much content and many times I had share what for many is a secret. Write can be a boring, tedious and frustrating. Equally it could be something fun, easy and interesting.
I have learned that I need to make the process fun. The reality is that if I make the process fun, I can relax and everything happen easier and much better. A soon as the process gets to be boring, tedious and frustrating I honestly prefer not to write.
I write at least five times a week, monday to friday at 4:30 A.M. What change is what I write, sometimes on the book I am working, others is a blog post, others is simply a journal entry. The reason is simple, that variety guarantee me that the process is going to be fun. I always write with music, even when in general I don’t listen to it, because I get absorbed into the process of writing, the music is always on the background.
What to Write more? What do you need to make the process more fun?