In 2015, when the Apple Watch debuted, my wife Jenny was one of the first people to get it. It took me a little longer to jump on the smartwatch train, but one feature I was genuinely excited about was the step counter. I was using one of those clip-on ones and thought it would be very cool to have a higher-tech version that also knows how to tell time and work with apps from my phone. I was very excited to be a part of the smartwatch club!
One thing I noticed is that the smartwatch leveled the fashion playing field among business people. What do I mean? Well, there was a time when wrists competed at the dinner table. Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tag Hauer, and more powerful wrists suddenly changed to the smartwatch. Sure, there were plenty more fancy things to show off, but it was a visible change that happened among business owners and entrepreneurs.
The point was to bring information to the user, in a short amount of time, in a simple way. From alerts to notifications, the watch allowed a sleek way to be quietly alerted about everything going on from the news to fitness, to emails, calls, texts, you name it, without needing a phone in hand. And it looks good too! I mean, I can’t be the only one that felt a little like Dick Tracy when I raised my wrist with a sleek screen to my face or hand to continue communication and beyond. Beyond is where I started to notice something.
I started becoming a slave to the notifications. From standing up when the device told me to stand, to reaching step goals, achieve badges and streaks, to needing to read every alert and get back to each notification in real-time. It was overwhelming me, and I didn’t even realize it.
My wife and I were on a road trip, and I noticed I was stopping at rest stops at about the 55th minute of the hour to ensure I would receive the standing hour for the hour and the next hour. We were running in place at the stops, doing whatever we had to do to ensure our “standing ring” was closed for the day. Can you relate?
I also noticed that the notifications were distracting me from staying focused. Instead of making it easier to keep up with my daily tasks, it was demanding that I pay attention to whatever it said was most important. Instead of staying connected to people, I started dismissing the alerts and forgetting to get back to people who needed me.
Don’t get me wrong; I think the smartwatch is here to stay and is an incredible invention. But just a week ago, I decided to take off the watch and see how it went.
I found myself constantly checking my wrist and looking for the weather update, my steps, my calories, my standing time, my messages. Rarely did I look at it for the actual time, haha.
I feel less stressed, less annoyed by the notifications, less irritated, and frankly, and dare I say, dramatically less overwhelmed. I still have my phone to tell me everything, and I am still equally connected with my contacts. I feel freer. I feel relieved. I feel lighter!
The virtual world had shackles on me. I prefer to be just a little less tied to everything the online world brings. Call it 2020 fatigue from Zooms, texting, calls, etc.
The one thing smartwatches do: enhance our lives, was keeping me from being more connected, more present, more deliberate with my focus, and more focused on reaching a number than reaching my fitness goals!
As I say goodbye to my smartwatch, I find myself smarter. Smarter because I’m not in a fog of alerts. I could be the exception to the rule, but I’d be curious how others feel about this topic and if you would be willing to keep your watch off for a day to see how it goes.
Is 2021 the year to bring back Timex, or be even bolder with a naked wrist? Let me know your thoughts in a comment on my social media or below.