Gadget

I stopped wearing my smartwatch and haven’t looked back

I fell in love with smartwatches when I got my hands on the first generation Moto 360, a beautifully designed, gorgeous smartwatch running Google’s first smartwatch operating system. Since then, I’ve tried and reviewed more than a dozen fitness wearables, including the Apple Watch SE and the Amazfit GTR and GTS series. And over time I grew to absolutely dislike the product segment.

I gave up on smartwatches a few months ago, and that’s why I won’t be going back anytime soon (unless it’s for a review).

Data, data and more data

Apple Watch Series 8 shows off its app library.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

I wore my smartwatch while sleeping. My daily routine after waking up was to check how many hours of deep sleep I had. The habit sucked me into the smartwatch first, then the app. I was barely awake and instantly I would be bombarded with data – light sleep, deep sleep, REM and what not.

And once that was done, I got into the habit of checking more fitness data — like the number of steps I’d walked the day before and how many calories I’d consumed. In the first 20 minutes of the day I was already sucked in by the screen.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 body composition.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

As if that wasn’t enough, every time I raised my wrist to see the time, I was once again face to face with information overload. Raise your wrist to check the time? Here’s how many miles you’ve driven today. Ended the day without walking much? Oh, here’s a nasty notification about how you missed your target. Are you working on closing these activity circles? Here’s a badge.

Wearing a smartwatch is throwing data in your face. And most of the time you don’t know what to do with that data.

Smartwatches may help some people stay fit or get fit, but no amount of wearing my rings or sharing fitness data with friends motivates me to exercise more. In fact, I became more irritated every time I saw one of my friends closing their rings while I sat there munching on a large bite of pizza.

I don’t want to be always available on a widget

Apple Watch Series 8 with display on.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Smartwatches are designed to be available when you need them, not the other way around. I’ve noticed the exact opposite happens to me.

In a meeting and get a notification? Here, let me swipe right to dismiss it. Out with friends and get a ping on your wrist? This is your boss and he wants this task done tomorrow. Having dinner with the family and get a spam call? easy. Tap the red icon to end it.

There are two models here. First, not every notification is time sensitive. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say that most of the notifications you get on your smartwatch are not time sensitive. Notifications can wait. Most often you look at them on your wrist and swipe them. Second, these notifications get in the way of living your life in the present moment.

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro notifications.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

When I have dinner with mom and dad, I don’t want my wrist buzzing. Let me eat in peace. Let me hang out with my friends without having to be constantly connected to the virtual world after hours. Allow me to be attentive in the meeting without being interrupted every few minutes.

It might sound clichéd, but I’d love for people to be present in what they’re doing in the moment—not distracted by a little gadget buzzing on their wrist. For me, one in 10 notifications might be time sensitive and need my attention. In an effort to not miss that one notification, I subjected myself to nine useless notifications that distracted me from what I was doing in real life.

You can always wear a smartwatch and turn off notifications. But did you really buy a smartwatch to do this? A fitness band would do.

To live a stress free life

Casio G Shock GA-B2100 in blue color.

With such inconveniences, it was natural to get frustrated and give up on the form factor. I switched to the good old G-Shocks and Tissots of the world. I no longer have to wait a split second when I raise my wrist to see the time. When I want to check the date, I only see the information I need, not the data the watch wants to give me.

Now my watch works for me – and it should. In a data-hungry world where we want to track every calorie intake and every step we take, sometimes it’s wise to take a step back and look at your choices. Are you always available for your smartwatch or is it always available for you? If it’s the former, you know it’s time to take a break from all the metrics and pull out your dumb watch – just like I did.

There’s something liberating about not being a slave to data. I’m not in a hurry to close the rings anymore. I don’t need to track every calorie I eat. I don’t care about the amount of deep sleep I get. But at the same time, I live a healthier life because the stress of the data on my wrist is no longer competing for space in my mind. I live a happier life and I have the lack of a smartwatch on my wrist to thank.

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