It’s been two weeks now since I set my phone down on a patio table, totally forgot about it, and walked off.
Hours later, when I realized I lost my phone and went back to try and find it – I was annoyed, but I wasn’t that nervous. My friends were confused on why I wasn’t freaking out. In my head, I was up for the challenge to see what life would be like without a phone for a while. I mean, I work for a company that’s trying to help people improve their relationships with their phones. I might as well see how it feels on the extreme end.
Here are 5 things I’ve learned without my phone.
#1 It starts weird & awkward, but you get used to it quickly.
The first morning I hopped into my car and wasn't automatically choosing a song to play on aux – it felt weird. Not checking my email and Instagram as soon as I woke up – it felt weird. Not snap-chatting friends while I hung out with my roommates – it felt weird. Not having my phone completely changed a lot of the things I do daily.
It didn’t surprise me at all that this rapid change felt weird. It did surprise me, however, that it quickly became my new normal. Now, I don’t even think about trying to get my music started when I hop in the car. Now, I wake up to a calm & slow morning, where I’m not immediately thinking about checking my phone. It totally took me off guard that I was able to adapt this easily. Constant multi-tasking had become a strong habit of mine, and I think these habits would’ve been extremely hard to break on my own. Not having the constant gravitational pull of a phone in my pocket made it infinitely easier to change my habits.
#2 I have better conversations in-person with more to talk about.
The second thing I noticed was that I had better conversations in person. On one hand, it was because I had nothing to distract me. I don’t think this was the primary reason that conversations were better. I use my phone while in conversation, but I’m not constantly glued to it when talking or listening. More importantly, I think the fact that I wasn’t in constant communication with people just gave us more to talk about. When you text back and forth all day, send Snapchats, and look at Instagram & Snapchat stories, you run out of stuff to talk about when you see each other. Usually, when I see my friends, we’ve already halfway talked about all the interesting stuff going on. Not having a phone made every in-person conversation so much better. The practice of not being in constant communication by stepping away from my phone is 100% something I’m going to continue doing after I get a phone again.
#3 There is less social pressure.
Checking my email, Instagram, and Snapchat immediately after waking up means I start my day with the weight of professional responsibilities and personal requests. Some days, I’d end up responding to an email before I even get out of bed. Then, I would move on to respond to the ongoing Snapchat conversations I have. While it seems small, checking emails and social media can make it tough to get moving in the morning. Since being phone-less, I've had to wait until I get out of bed and get my day started to even think about reading my emails. It’s incredible. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there isn’t much of a difference in responding at 8:00 am and 9:00 am when it comes to most emails. Similarly, when my phone is in my pocket and I get a text, I have always felt the pressure to immediately respond no matter the true urgency or the sender. It shouldn’t be this way. I should not drop whatever I’m doing just to respond to someone that I maybe, kind of, know and rarely ever see. Not having a phone made it easy to be intentional about who I talked to and when I talked to them. I couldn’t overextend socially by making too many plans or juggling conversations. Trying to be more intentional about not rushing to respond will remain a part of my daily routine going forward. At the end of the day, the majority of our texts and emails aren’t emergencies, and we shouldn’t feel the need to treat them that way.
#4 I slept more.
Sleep was one area of my life that was immediately impacted. The very first night I laid down I felt like “what now?” because I couldn’t stare at my phone for an hour before falling asleep. I also couldn't start my day by jolting my brain awake on my phone. On the second night, I went and bought a book to start reading before bed. As much as I thought I liked reading, this was an incredible cheat code for me to fall asleep quickly. I can barely read 10-15 pages before my eyes refuse to stay open. In the mornings, I realized, that I could let myself sleep in later because I’m not spending the first 20 minutes of my day on my phone. It’s kind of hard to waste 20 minutes turning off a real alarm clock. I also felt like I needed to sleep more so I could wake up feeling ready for the day. With a phone, it seems like I can force my brain awake blasting it with TikTok even if I didn’t get enough sleep. This can be beneficial I guess if your goal is to sleep less, but that’s definitely not mine. The boost in sleep time has made a massive impact on my daily mood, and it was crazy how drastically different my morning and night routines both ended up being when phone-less.
#5 I need a phone.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the phone-less life, I do recognize that our phones are great. I need my phone to scan into the gym after-hours. I need my phone to call my mom (non-negotiable). I need my phone to use the mandatory dual authentication for my university accounts. We’ve built so much of our world around the convenience of phones. It’s also nice to be able to talk to people and read about what’s going on. It’s all about moderation. I think the main takeaway from this experience is that I need to be better at controlling my phone habits. Phones are a great tool that can make life easier, but it’s important to not let the habits I’ve built during my time without a phone slip away now that I have one again. Going forward, I’m excited to create some distance between myself and my phone.