Less is More: the Low Information Diet (or Why I Left my Blackberry Behind)

How often do you check your email?  If you're in the "more often than I'd like" category, then join the club.  At least, this was how I felt up until a week ago.  Let me explain.

In an effort to delete unnecessary expenses, I began to investigate how I could trim my cell phone bill.  The data plan was right in the middle of the bullseye.  After some online research, I deactivated my Blackberry and began to use an old Palm Treo that had been in the drawer for some time.

This of course coincided with a simple realization: I don't like surfing the Internet on a small screen.  With a laptop five feet away nearly all the time, why would I want to torture my eyes with my Blackberry?  I'm sure if I traveled more or was on the road I would feel differently.  Thankfully, my work is pretty localized.

Not to mention I could save nearly $400 a year without a data plan.

So that's what I did, venturing off without my Blackberry and with the Treo.  Interestingly, I fell in love again with the old girl.  Sure, the Treo is a little overweight and is beyond her years but she's nice in the hand and has an uber-simple operating system.  Sort of like an old car, a few scrapes don't really make a difference.  If it falls on the floor- what's the big deal?

I then inputted five phone numbers- that's it.  The calendar and other information would have to be accessed by my laptop.  Streamlined for sure.

After a week into my experiment, some realizations:

  1. I don't get that many phone calls.  I'm not complaining about this, mind you.

  2. There are no emergencies that arrive via email.  If someone really needs to reach me, they can find my by phone.  This has happened only once in the last ten years.

  3. I don't miss my Blackberry.

While this experiment was taking place, I've been reading Tim Ferris' The Four Hour Workweek.  In this best seller, Ferris preaches what he calls the "low information diet".  He writes:

"Just as modern man consumes both too many calories and calories of no nutritional value, information workers eat data both in excess and from the wrong sources."

Was I one of those gluttons for information?  Did I really need 30 blogs in my Google Reader?  As is often the case, trial and error is a powerful teacher.

My experience has been great so far.  I don't miss the RSS reading, the emails while I'm waiting in traffic or the preoccupation with having an expensive device in my pocket.  My only regret- that I didn't streamline sooner.

Photo by velcr0