How the Apple Watch Makes Me More Mindful

It’s no secret that computer technology has redefined what it means to be a human in the 21st century. From medical devices to automatic flower watering systems, nothing has been left untouched. Still, few things have changed the way that communication has. Technology has made communication instantaneous and ever present, and for many, somewhat overwhelming. 50 years ago, if you wanted to chat with a friend you’d have to phone them (if they lived locally — very few had long distance phone service), or sit down and compose a letter.

Fast forward to present day and it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of options for contacting folks. If you’re like me, at any given time, you’re probably using:

  • Email
  • Social Networks (facebook, twitter)
  • Text Messaging
  • Phone
  • Various apps (whatsapp, snapchat, instagram, tinder)

And the list is growing. It seems like hardly a week goes by before we get some big ‘world changing’ new social network or social app to use. Then you’ve got market fragmentation with some friends using some apps and not others. Before you know it, you’re upgrading phone storage to accommodate the app addiction.

As a bleeding edge technologist, developer and all around Apple enthusiast, I had to be one of the people waiting in virtual line at 2am CST to pre-order the Apple Watch. And so I was.

I received my watch back in May (it’s August now) and sat with it for a few days trying to figure out how it fit into my life. I do enjoy wearing a watch, but I wasn’t really sure how to take advantage of the added utility of a smart watch. Fast forward a couple of months and I’ve kind of settled into a groove. The watch and I are no longer strangers. And I think I’m better off for it.

Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.
Mother Teresa

For utility, the watch basically does what you’d expect. Notifications on your wrist. Where it becomes interesting is in the behavior / usage patterns it facilitates. I have found that the limited app interaction ability has limited me to a quick glance at a message or quick read of an email. Before, I’d whip out my phone to check a notification and end up 15 minutes later staring off into space wondering what I was doing in the first place. Now I feel a gentle tap on my wrist, flick to turn the screen on and glance at the content. Most of the time I’ll just let it go and respond later when I have some time. This has done wonders for my social life. I’m not the guy with the phone at the dinner table (or during a movie) anymore.

The other thing that I love is the standing reminders. I have the watch set to alert me every hour, on the hour. This helps me stand up, take a break and bring myself back to the present. This has helped me to live more intentionally and be more mindful of my interactions. It’s also useful to set a quick alarm for a meditation session. It’s as easy as lifting you wrist and saying, “Hey Siri – set an alarm for 10 minutes”. And then you’re off. 10 minutes later the watch gently taps you on the wrist and you come back. No more blaring bell alarm sounds to frighten you out of a sitting session.

The app selection still leaves a lot to be desired. There’s no Headspace app yet, for example. I’m hopeful that things will catch up and we’ll end up with a slough of productivity and mindfulness utilities to choose from. I may even make a few myself.

As a piece of technology though, it’s a pretty solid addition to the mindful tech collection. It helps me stay mindful and check in with myself several times per day and has enabled me to be more productive with my communications.

I’d be interested in hearing your own experiences below in the comments.