Upon arriving in Toronto, I needed to daven at a particular morning minyan in order to begin after first light and yet finish before carpool. However, I couldn't stay until the end, and so I began accelerating the end of my personal davening, taking off my tefillin before davening was over. I don't think I did that normally before coming here, but now it was a necessity.
The necessity soon became normal for me; even when I wasn't on carpool duty, I began taking off my tefillin before davening was over. Not before it was halachically appropriate – one should keep them on through the end of Uva l'Tzion where possible – but as soon as I could. [This was especially true when I davened in a nusach sfard minyan, since I don't say Pitum haKetores at the end of davening.] I live in a rush, and removing tefillin during Aleinu enabled me to go immediately to a shiur or to learn or to follow up on a phone call or email, without losing time.
Recently, though, I have begun to feel very uncomfortable with this. It's halachically permissible… but it's wrong. I hope I would not knowingly do this to a human being, putting on my coat or checking a set of travel directions while still engaged in a conversation. So why would I do this to Gd? And especially when there is no need? What message am I sending myself about my davening? Where is the passion for prayer?
I suppose taking off my tefillin during Aleinu is an artifact of the distance from Gd in our standard prayer experience. Since I can't see Gd in front of me, my davening is easily reduced to execution of an obligation, instead of a presentation before my Creator, much less a conversation. But it's not right, and it's self-reinforcing, encouraging me further to avoid seeing davening as that encounter with Gd.
So now it changes – no more removing tefilling during Aleinu, and I'll just need to keep my haste reflex under control.