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Tech of the Times: Ditching the Smartphone

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An Analogue to Intentional Living

By: Patrick Patino

A little over two months ago, I ditched my iPhone. I said “sayonara” to Instagram, “so long” to Facebook, and “goodbye” to driving directions from Google Maps. My iPhone had been reminding me weekly of my average daily screen time usage, which was consistently 10-13 hours. When I had any down time, I would pull out my iPhone to doom-scroll or hop from app to app mindlessly. I had no breathing space, no free time to let my mind wander. I had forgotten what a cloud looked like as it drifted across the sky. I was a zombie, wandering through my life and my legal practice.

Disconnecting has helped me reconnect with myself, my family, and my life. I no longer have the constant pull to grab for my phone, feeling as though I am missing out. I feel free. I feel lighter. That might sound a bit hyperbolic. But the convenience of having my iPhone constantly by my side was destroying my wellbeing. I felt anxious when I left my phone in another room or if it was about to run out of battery power without the ability to recharge it. Now I have so much more capacity and space for living, thinking, and just being.


There is a huge pull for attorneys to be productive. I can say pretty confidently that we are horrible as a profession at just chilling out and letting things rest.


There is a huge pull for attorneys to be productive. I can say pretty confidently that we are horrible as a profession at just chilling out and letting things rest. We want to figure out a problem. We want to help that client. We want to overcome challenges. The challenge is that sometimes things are out of our control and we have to let go of outcomes and expectations.

Technology is a blessing and a curse. Constant connection and the availability of information at our fingertips is hyper-convenient. But it destroys the breathing space needed for creativity, deep thinking, and meditative thought, all important aspects of being a productive human and attorney. As a fire needs oxygen, we need empty moments to let our minds free to have a-ha! moments, those brief electric sparks of a brilliant idea.

Since giving up my iPhone, I have become a voracious reader. My anxiety, an issue I have struggled with since childhood and that had become more pronounced since becoming an attorney, has dissipated. I feel at ease. I feel less irritable. I have time and space to recharge and reset so that I can live within my values.

Here are some adaptations I’ve adopted:

  1. No more Google Maps for directions. I have been looking up directions on Google Maps on my MacBook Pro in advance. If it is a totally new destination, I write down directions (gasp!). If not, I rely upon my memory on how to get there. We used to do this all the time before smartphones and GPS.
  2. No music in the car. This has been hardest on my two boys, who had become so accustomed to being able to choose what to listen to in the car. Without an iPhone there is no Apple Carplay. Without Apple Carplay there is no Spotify. I sometimes listen to the radio, chat with my son when I pick him up from school, or simply drive in silence, and let my mind rest and wander.
  3. No texting, calling, or emailing on the go. Very few things in life are an emergency or require constant and instant communication. My firm uses Google Voice, so I can make and receive calls and texts from my laptop. I am now not constantly “on call.” I can also send iMessages from my laptop. With this new limitation, I find that I have to be intentional about setting aside time to communicate with family, friends, clients, co-workers, etc. I am more intentional in planning out which groceries to buy at the store. My wife can’t text me if we’ve forgotten something. Life is more integrated and less fractured.

In the past, I have tried deleting apps or setting time limitations. None of those were a long-term solution for me. I value rest. I value relationships. I value meandering thoughts that inspire creativity. Ditching the iPhone has led me to being more intentional so that I can live a life with deep connections and meaning. With the constant presence of my iPhone, I wasn’t being present in my life. I was distracted, anxious, depressed, and exhausted.

What is distracting you from intentional living? I encourage you to take moments to reconnect with yourself and what you value. Ask yourself why you are doing what you’re doing. Challenge yourself to make a change that will improve your life, your relationships, and your well-being. We all have to start somewhere. Maybe it is taking time before you start your workday to meditate or taking your dog for a walk at the end of the workday. Take time to set an intention and challenge yourself to rest, reflect, and meditate on the life you want to live. Your clients, your practice, your relationships, and your well-being will all benefit from incorporating more mindfulness and intentionality into your life.


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By: Patrick Patino

Patrick Patino is an attorney at and owner of Patino King LLC, a law firm providing debtor and creditor representation in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa (patinoking.com). He is also owner and operator of Newfangled Legal, a coaching and consulting business for law firms and attorneys (newfangled.legal). He can be reached at patrick@patinoking.com

 

 

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