Results: Virtual Flip Phone Challenge

My challenge is officially over. Here are some observations:

Time spent during the Challenge Week (#24) vs past 5 weeks

The following table shows time spent on the top 10 apps on my phone sorted in decreasing order of those used in the challenge week:

App / Week 19 20 21 22 23 24
Signal - - - 3h 54m 4h 31m 5h 10m
Voice Calls - 3h 5m - 1h 42m 3h 21m 2h 39m
Text 2h 32m 3h 34m 5h 24m 2h 19m 1h 50m 2h
Pomodoro Timer 1h 33m 24m 35s 34m 19s 36m 23s - 1h 23m
Duo - 41m 47s - - 1h 17m 15m 33s
Google Now 20m 13s - 22m 39s 23m 23s 31m 38s 11m 59s
Photos - - 36m 52s 51m 34s - 10m 24s
LastPass - - - - - 10m 15s
SeriesGuide - - - - - 9m 15s
Mint - - - - - 7m 30s
Total Time 17h 16h 6m 15h 4m 16h 51m 18h 36m 12h 54m
Daily Average (h) 2.43 2.29 2.14 2.4 2.64 1.86
% of logged time 23% 24% 27% 38% 36% 24%

Hyphen means that the app did not rank in the top 10 apps during the week. All data courtesy of RescueTime time tracking.

Some interesting observations:

  • Signal shows up only week 22 onward as that’s when I started actively using it. It affected results of my challenge taking over 35% of the total time.
  • Time spent on voice calls was under 19 and 22 minutes respectively in weeks 19 and 21.
  • I probably spend too much time on text; week 21 is an abnormality because I had a huge argument with a friend that week.
  • I wasn’t productive during week 23, the week before the challenge.
  • LastPass shows up because that turned out to be the only way for me to view a webpage since I had even disabled Google Chrome from the phone. Funnily enough, I had to authenticate with my fingerprint before I could access a webpage. :)
  • Even with Signal as an exception, I still managed to reduce the time spent on my phone as total time and daily average rows show.

Time not spent during the Challenge Week vs the past week

Only top ranked apps with significant (> 30m) duration.

  • 1h 7m - Google Chrome
  • 43m 18s - Google Maps
  • 39m 48s - Camera - Android
  • 35m 46s - WhatsApp Messenger

Comparison with past two months

Durations are for the complete period.

May

  • 17h 27m - Text
  • 8h 47m - dating apps
  • 6h 28m - Google Chrome
  • 4h 45m - Voice Calls
  • 4h 27m - WhatsApp Messenger
  • 3h 53m - Pomodoro Timer
  • 2h 30m - Signal
  • 1h 48m - GMail
  • 1h 45m - Slack
  • Daily average: 2.35 hours

April

  • 9h 47m - Text
  • 5h 20m - WhatsApp Messenger
  • 4h 47m - Voice Calls
  • 3h 55m - dating apps
  • 3h 19m - Google Chrome
  • 2h 21m - Pomodoro Timer
  • 2h - Inoreader
  • 1h 52m - Google Now
  • 1h 50m - Google Photos
  • 1h 45m - Slack
  • Daily average: 1.95 hours

Conclusion

I can safely say that I was successful in this challenge with the modest success criteria that I set up for myself (perhaps excluding Signal from the data would have made things clearer). But, in aggregate, it seems like I don’t really use too many smart features of the phone in the first place. It may or may not seem surprising that no social networking apps show up here, that’s just because I have not used them for most of 2018. The apps that I missed the most were a web browser (to be able to easily share links to something with my friends) and Google Maps. I consciously avoid reading and responding to email from my phone. WhatsApp tends to remain a necessity to be able to communicate with my family which I will happily reinstall.

What the RescueTime data above doesn’t capture is interruptions caused by notifications from the phone. My version of the challenge included blocking notifications for better sleep and more productivity. I am not so sure about sleep but I did manage to improve my focus during the week with a daily average of ~3.5 hours worth of focused sessions (done mostly in 50 minute pomodoro sessions as opposed to 25-minute sessions before this week).

To conclude, I doubt I will attempt this sort of challenge again in the foreseeable future. It seems to me that a longer effort of building better habits since the beginning of the year has given me a better payoff. I can certainly take advantage of keeping my phone in priority mode because that part of the challenge certainly helped.

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