Last September I accidentally cracked my iPhone screen for the second time, and this time, instead of fixing it right away, I decided to explore what it would be like to — gasp! — not have a phone.
In that quarter of a year, I learned a lot about what it’s like to go against the grain and live life without a gadget that most people would consider a bodily appendage.
My most important takeaways:
#1. I have the power within me to strike up a conversation with a stranger and make a new friend.
When we are out and among strangers the temptation to engage with our device often overcomes the desire to take a risk and talk to a new person.
Without an iPhone, I was more likely to chat with a stranger in line at the coffee shop or grocery store, because my eyes had nowhere else to look but towards the world around me.
I made new friends this way. I wrote down their names and emails on a piece of paper.
Life is more fulfilling when you engage with others.
#2. It’s scary, but empowering, to be on your own.
At first, there is a certain anxiety that comes along with not having a mobile device. Where do I direct my attention if not towards my screen? Do I look silly just sitting here idly? What if a friend or family member needs me and can’t reach me right now?
Those feelings fade and what remains is a sense of self-determination; a feeling that you control your own life and you don’t NEED to be hooked to your iPhone at all times.
#3. I can handle life and get what I need without the crutch of a mobile device.
Without an iPhone, you walk into the corner store and ask for directions. Or you pay attention and recall the street you came down to get here.
You carry a notepad and still keep your appointments. You wear a watch.
Without an iPhone you return your phone calls later, in one sitting, rather than letting them interrupt you all day — I used Google Voice on my computer.
#4. I deserve the calm and peace of mind that comes with disconnection.
Once I got over the worry that people would call me and be unable to reach me, I realized how much less stress I experienced when I went about my life and work without constant interruption from phone calls and push notifications. It dawned on me that I deserve to have my peace of mind, and I can choose to call you back (or not) if and when the time is right.
#5. I don’t owe it to anyone to be reachable 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
It seems these days like people expect to have your attention whenever they want it. While I am giving of my time, I prefer to set limits on my availability, and that’s hard to do when you have a limitless communication device in your pocket or otherwise beside you at all times.
Giving up my iPhone gave me an appreciation for being able to focus and conduct my daily activities undistracted.
#6. I am more productive when I’m prepared.
Living without an iPhone created a need for me to become more prepared and punctual. If I said I was going to be somewhere at a certain time and then was running late, there was no texting the person to let them know where I was. If I had a phone call scheduled for a certain time, I had to be sure to be at a computer to make the call on Google Voice. I became much more organized for this reason, and my improved habits meant improved productivity.
#7. I can still have success when I choose to do the opposite of what everyone else does.
If I told someone I didn’t have a phone the reaction was often one of amazement. These days it’s hard for us to imagine going without a phone.
While I decided ultimately to repair my iPhone and go back to the connected life, the experience did not detract from my progress and in fact helped me build better life habits. It was a great learning experience and time of self-reflection.
Would you ever consider going a month or more without your iPhone?