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How to leave your smartphone

How to leave your smartphone

Last May, Fabuwood, a kitchen cabinet maker in Newark, instituted a new company policy: No phones allowed during meetings.

To implement this, the company installed “device shelves” outside each of its six glass-walled conference rooms. On a recent Wednesday morning, three conference rooms were having animated meetings, and the shelves outside were filled with smartphones, tablets and '90s-style flip phones. The 1,200-person company pays the price of a flip phone for anyone who gives up their smartphone, and 80 people have worked on the proposal.

Surprisingly, employees say they like it. Rena Stoff, a project manager, said that at first she hated the idea of ​​being deprived of her smartphone, but now she finds that it has made meetings – which she once found boring and unnecessary – become engaging and productive.

“Putting the phone away from me has almost made my mind more open to information,” he said.

Fabuwood's founder and chief executive, Joel Epstein, was motivated by his personal belief that smartphones are “destroying our personal and business lives”.,

She started using flip phones seven years ago after she developed carpal tunnel symptoms in her hands from almost constant use of BlackBerrys. They said they slept better, felt more productive at work and had more meaningful communication. Mr. Epstein, a Hasidic Jew, said his choice of device was not unusual in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, which encourages the use of “kosher phones” with limited Internet access.

Last year, Mr. Epstein asked Fabuwood managers how often their employees were on their phones; He estimated an average of two hours per day. He asked a warehouse safety officer, whose job is usually to monitor unsafe conditions, to secretly document every time he saw an employee using a phone in the office. Mr. Epstein said that many of the company's worst performers were on the list.

Mr. Epstein decided to fight against the tools competing for his employees' time and attention.”“INFOCUS” Initiative, asking workers to keep personal devices out of sight while working. No one is penalized for violating the rules, but managers will email reminders when they notice any violations.

There were some complaints when this initiative was proposed, with some predicting that people would abandon it. But that didn't happen, Mr. Epstein said. Instead, poor performers improved. “Within six months, productivity had increased 20 percent,” he said, citing internal corporate metrics.

What has surprised him most, he said, is the steady stream of messages from staff saying the program is life-changing.

I heard about Fabuwood's initiative when I published an article about fighting my iPhone addiction by switching to a flip phone for a month. Abraham Brull, manager of software development at Fabuwood, emailed me saying that he had struggled with his smartphone dependency in the past and that it helped him to join a company where healthy technology use was encouraged.

His was one of the hundreds of emails I received. Many were flip phone enthusiasts who disagreed with my suggestion that using a “dumb phone” indefinitely was not an option. Longtime flip phone users of all ages and professions said that their lives were better without smartphones, and that their marriages, relationships with their children, and mental health improved as a result.

Alba Souto, 29, from Spain, said not having a smartphone has made her relationship with her husband, who switched to an old Nokia, more mysterious and exciting.

“Not having access to each other through messaging apps all the time has improved the quality of time we spend together,” he wrote in an email. “We have a lot more to talk about.”

“I love it,” wrote Christopher Casino, 29, of Brooklyn, NY, who turned in October cat flip phone Which allows it to access Uber, Maps and Spotify, but not social media or news apps. “I pursue my hobbies continuously. I study in the metro. I talk to my husband more. I don't feel extreme pressure to know everything right away and say the right thing online.”

Sarah Thibault, 43, an artist in Los Angeles, said she planned to participate in “Flip Phone February,” an idea I proposed to follow Dry January. He inspired To give up your smartphone a viral video Crowd of phones ringing on New Year in Paris.

They made a flip phone in February Community on Reddit To share messages and suggestions with other participants. I joined and posted a link Competition That siggi's curd recently announced Offering $10,000, flip phones, smartphone lockboxes, and of course, free yogurt to 10 people who commit to a month-long digital detox. A company spokeswoman told me that 322,935 people had participated in the contest.

Longtime flip phone users are advised to “check things off” before leaving the house, carry a pen and notebook, and alert friends, coworkers, and family members about their decision to go smartphone-free. Give.

My own advice is to seek counselling. dumb finder To see the options in the market; Rays of Sun And Kyocera were popular recommendations from readers. But be sure to check with your carrier to find out which “feature phones” — industry parlance for non-smartphones — your network supports.

You may also need to acquire other technology to fill in the gaps. I turned to a digital alarm clock I got in middle school in the '90s. (It still works!) Kellin Caroline Zhang, a product designer who does an annual smartphone detox, wrote that she was using an old digital video camera this year so she could tiktok her way Through flip phone travel.

Those who make the switch should be warned: There were plenty of complaints in our inbox about our increasingly smartphone-centric world.

“The issue that is most troubling to me, and which I would like journalists and regulators to focus their attention on, is the increasing need for smartphones to live daily lives,” wrote a 47-year-old father. Absolutely no mobile phones. “Ten years ago, lack of phones meant some minor social challenges; Nowadays, it can be difficult to live a normal life.”

He has become frustrated with the now common use of QR codes to attend sporting events and access restaurant menus. He and several others said payment machines at parking lots often direct people to pay via smartphone.

“I just got a parking ticket this week because I couldn't go online and pay through their QR code or app,” wrote a 31-year-old mother from Missouri with a flip phone. But she said it was worth it.

“Even in these moments I will not go back to the smartphone. “I have become a slave to a piece of technology that has taken away my attention from me and my children,” she wrote. “Your child-rearing years are short. Your children need you. Do you want to be a good mother? Do you want to raise healthy children? The best thing you can do is throw your smartphone down the toilet, even if just for a little while.”

(But don't actually throw your smartphone in the toilet. You may need to connect it to Wi-Fi at some point to get the two-factor authentication code.)

Some readers, such as a corporate executive and mother of three, said they “can never turn back.”

“The invention of the smartphone has enabled work-life integration in ways I couldn't even imagine!” she wrote.

He said his ways to make it less addictive include turning off notifications and deleting social media apps. He and others thanked me for pointing it out one discovery It found that switching smartphones from color to gray scale mode significantly helped people reduce their screen time. “Excited about the grayscale tip,” she wrote, “turning it on today!”

For those wondering, I've been using my flip phone as my main phone for two months. But I found a second line for my smartphone which can be used when Internet access is necessary. For example, I'm not sure I would have found Fabuwood's headquarters — on unfamiliar streets in industrial Newark — without it.




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