Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dumb phone and a tablet: Do more

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Google Phone docomo HT-03A[/caption]

I've been experimenting, for the past two weeks, with a regular old feature phone, a.k.a. dumb phone, for basic texting and calling needs, supplemented by a 7 inch Android tablet. The results have been good in terms of productivity.

When I got my first smartphone, I was so happy to be able to access email and be able to tap out a text message on a keyboard. It was a Palm Treo by T-Mobile. With GPRS, the best I could do on the web was WAP. I tried a Sidekick and other types. I finally settled on a T-Mobile Dash, which was awesome with EDGE. I was really rolling along on 2G speeds. And phones got better and could do much more at faster speeds; and I got slower and more distracted from doing my work.

Internet services started targeting the mobile user. We could tweet, post photos, write blog posts, hang out on Facebook, visit full websites, and so much more. Life was calm when there was hardly anything you could do with your smartphone except Tweet and email. If you're wired like me, it's hard to turn away from information. Being always connected can be problematic for the easily distracted.

My tablet gives me the same ability to access and share information that I would have with a smartphone. The big difference is that I can leave the tablet in the car or leave it at home. Armed with just a simple phone that can only make phone calls and text, there is some degree of mental clarity you can achieve.

I'm finding that doing the same on a computer is essential. When I need to get work done, I don't launch apps that alert me to incoming messages. Armed with just a text editor or productivity software, I can accomplish so much more.

I think that is what is at the core of the feature phone and tablet experiment. One must have the ability to focus on essential functions, turning off or setting aside extraneous functions. There is no easy way to do this on a smartphone. It is far too easy to check email, tweets, and Facebook messages when all you needed was a phone number.

I am even considering making my desktop my dedicated work space and shunting ALL messaging to the tablet. The reason I am thinking of this approach is that I remember years back, companies were attempting to create Internet appliances. All you could do with them was send email and browse web pages. This was to make it easier for people who really had no need for any software beyond those. In that way, I find that making my tablet into a social media, email, and Internet appliance, leaving the computer for real work, makes a lot of sense.

I recognize that a computer can serve all those functions, including productivity software, easily without breaking a sweat. It's not about the computer, it's about me. I can't focus on work and have those things popping up or dinging in front of me. It is much easier to put my tablet on silent mode and then go to town with my work on the desktop. There is no need to launch an app or browser tab for my social media; it is already running on the tablet. Just knowing that the tablet has all that waiting is comforting to some degree, reducing the temptation for me to open a browser tab to check.

Do you find that offloading communication to a more or less dedicated device helps you get more done?

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