Here’s a list of the devices I use for all sorts of purposes. You’ll soon know why this can be a problem.
iPhone XR as my main communications device.
Old Acer laptop with excellent keyboard as my work PC , for creative writing and browsing.
Kindle Paperwhite which is my favourite way to read since 2013.
BlackBerry KeyOne as my music and podcasts player with physical buttons mapped to media.
2018 iPad for reading manga, textbooks and articles.
Super old Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 for music study with guitar tuner, metronome and pdf notes.
Another Blackberry KeyOne for portable writing. Wrote the first draft of this article on it.
Motorola G5S+ as camera to take photos, audio and video for our podcast and YouTube channel.
Sony PlayStation Vita for the rare times when I play games.
Two Android TVs for streaming movies, series and YouTube.
PlayStation 2 and 3 for the rare occasions to play.
That is a LOT of devices and no, I’m not trying to flex. Most of these have been bought used for cheap prices or handed down or gifted or old devices just lying around and I deliberately keep them tuned for specific purposes. Doesn’t it seem counter productive, inconvenient and not at all minimalist to be this way? I thought so too, but here I am, defending my dozen device diatribe.
I started this experiment when I realized that phones become slow and useless for daily use after a few years but they can still be good for basic stuff like calling, music etc. I refused to sell them or exchange them because, for the terrible price they are being offered, I can put them to better use.
On the morning that I wrote the first draft of this article, I was leaving home for a long train ride to get some chores done and I was having a hard time figuring out which device to carry for entertainment. Looking at the small backpack I was stuffing, I wondered, Is my multi device lifestyle super inconvenient? Well, yeah, and that is one small drawback – the inconvenience of mobility, but it comes with surprising benefits as well.
When you have devices specifically tuned to do just one task and nothing else, it makes the usage of that device much more purposeful and it stops being a distraction machine. For example, my main phone can play music perfectly well, but when I unlock my phone to do so, I will get distracted by something else. Then, when I do play music, I’ll get interrupted by a call or text. Even if there are no calls or notifications, I might still get bored of listening to just music and hop onto another app. But what if I’m using my BlackBerry iPod only? No distractions, pure music.
I realize that I can eliminate all the above devices if I just stick to one phone and one laptop but what’s the fun in that? Instead, when I pick up one of my devices, I know exactly what my intention of using it is. If it’s iPad or Kindle, I know I’m gonna read and that’s it. This specific device approach has made my life so much easier by eliminating distractions. If I have two devices on which I can do everything, I get nothing productive done at all.
Of course it goes without saying that to have these device not multi task, I have uninstalled and blocked the distracting aspects of it. Laptop cannot access distracting websites and the phones have no app stores and no browsers. Some are so old and slow that I can’t use other apps on them (Samsung Galaxy Tab 3).
When I turn on my iPhone, I know I’m gonna call or text someone.
When I boot up my laptop, I know I’m gonna work.
When I boot up my laptop and connect external mechanical keyboard, I know I’m gonna write.
When I turn on my BlackBerry iPod and plug in headphones, it’s music or podcasts.
Turn on iPad means reading Korean Textbooks or Manga or articles on Pocket app.
Samsung Tab is always on my guitar amp.
Have you tried something of this sort? Do you prefer to use one or two devices only? Let me know in the comments below.