In my first January post, I had talked about spending a month getting rid of my smart phone and switching to a basic flip phone. The purpose was to see if a smart phone adds more value to my life or more clutter/stress.

This idea must have offended my phone, as shortly after, it began failing to connect to the network. I tried a new sim card, a factory reset, and even tried installing a different operating system, Lineage OS, to see if that solved the problem. Nothing worked. My phone didn’t work.

Must be time for my flip phone challenge..or maybe not

With my smart phone now useless, I decided now would be the perfect time to start my flip phone challenge. If a flip phone would work, I could save hundreds of dollars and potentially spend less time on my phone.

The next day, I purchased a flip phone. I was assured it would work with my current sim card. Unfortunately, it didn’t. The phone was locked to the sim card it came with.

Unprepared for life with out instant access

Though vaguely, I remember a time when I didn’t have a smart phone. I even remember a time when I didn’t have a cell phone. I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was in college. That was back in the days when rates were based on minutes instead of data.

The same day I went to purchase a flip phone, I was scheduled to attend a business mixer event. I had taken a brief look at the location before leaving home. When the flip phone didn’t work, I was left without an exact address and no way to call for directions.

A time before phones and Google maps required writing down an address and precise directions. I had taken the time to do neither.

I was lost.

Cool things happen when you look up from your phone

I new the general location. So, I did what people used to do when they got lost before phones. I asked for directions and had a nice conversation with three people who were chatting in the parking lot after work.

There is a trade-off for the convenience of smart phones, it puts all the information we can ever want in the palm of our hands at the cost of human interaction.

I rarely wear a watch anymore. Why would I? I have my phone. But I didn’t anymore. While at the event, I was 100% engaged to listen. No checking the time, no checking emails or messages. With the phone gone, so was the temptation to constantly look at it.

Work is more productive

No shock here. We all know it. Our phones keep us distracted. It’s an addiction. Psychologists even have a word for the fear of being without your smartphone, “Nomophobia“. Companies like Facebook count on this addition to keep you engaged. The more they can keep you addicted, the more they keep advertisements in front of you.

Without my smart phone working, I had no reason to pick it up. There would be no messages, email, phone calls, or notifications.

When I was working, I was focused on work 100%.

The arrival of a new phone

It had to happen. While a lot of my work and communication is done through email, I still need a phone. From the day my phone stopped working to the arrival of the new one was almost exactly one week. I ordered a Motorola G7, a slightly older, budget phone.

While there were phone calls that needed to be made, I don’t own a landline, and a few texts I likely needed to reply to, I wasn’t anticipating the arrival of the phone.

I didn’t feel that anything was missing in my life. My smart phone adds convenience in my life, but it isn’t necessary. I think its important to remember this.

Treating our wants and conveniences as needs confuses us as to what’s really important.

We spend so much time looking into our screens, we forget it isn’t the real world. It’s the people we spend time with, the important work we do, and the experiences that matter.

A smart phone is a tool. It should be treated as such.

Surprisingly relaxing

I had a few texts to reply to when I got my new phone. After letting one person know my response was late because my phone broke, they responded “I can’t imagine not having my phone. It stresses me out just thinking about it”. I think this feeling is reflective of a lot of people.

But a week without my phone wasn’t stressful, it was surprisingly peaceful. No worries about missing a phone call, needing to reply to a message, or check email. My time and attention belonged to me.