No Smartphone – Evaluation

With February now in the books it is time for me to evaluate how the month without my iPhone went, and contrary to what some may thought would happen, I am still alive to tell about it!  I did have a few small slipups where I responded to a text message with a quick answer instead of calling because of the hour or where I was at.  However, aside from that, I was able to leave my phone on silent and avoid using it for an entire month.

I am definitely not going to be going back to the pre-smartphone days any time soon, as a productivity and efficiency junkie, the smartphone is just far too useful of a tool to pass up.  That said, I did not miss having the constant distraction of a phone buzzing, dinging or ringing, and I plan to use it more deliberately as a tool going forward, instead of as a mindless distraction as I sometimes tend to do.

So what have I learned from this experience?

  • Without my smartphone, I was not able to check my email constantly throughout the day, I had to wait until I was in front of my computer. Sure I was not able to instantly respond to every email, but that was just fine with me and life carried on.  I think batch processing your emails once or twice a day is a much more efficient use of time anyways, and I plan to continue doing that going forward.
  • I was still able to plan activities and meetup with people without relying on text messaging. Once or twice that meant staying at home so I could talk to someone on the phone once the plans were decided instead of relying on texts while en route.  Text messaging and being able to call people from anywhere is definitely a useful tool that helps with efficiency and I look forward to using them again.  However, life does go on without them.
  • I realized I do rely quite heavily on the task manager, calendar and note taking apps on my phone (Asana, Calendar by Readdle and Evernote respectively) to organize and run my life. It was an inconvenience to not have instant access to those apps, and I feel like it did impact my productivity somewhat as I did forget about a few things I was planning on doing or that I wanted to make note of.
  • Turning off data on your phone and not using it dozens of times a day drastically improves the battery life. I only had to charge my phone three times during the whole month, once every 7-8 days!

How will smartphone use change going forward?

  • I’m definitely going to incorporate more periods of “Smartphone free” time into my life. There were quite a few times during the month where I was waiting in line, in a waiting room, or waiting for a train where I really had nothing to do.  In the past, I would have whipped out my phone and browsed email, news, twitter, etc. to pass the time.  Instead, I was forced to sit there and take in the living, breathing world around me, and it was pretty nice!  I look forward to practicing more deliberate presence in my day to day life instead of constantly giving in to the smartphone distraction.
  • One way I will put these smartphone free blocks of time into practice is by simply leaving it at home from time to time when I go out, in my jacket at the front door when I am over at someone’s house, or in another room on silent when I am at home.
  • I am definitely going to make more use of the “Do not Disturb” function on my phone, which mutes all calls, texts and alerts unless they come from someone in your favorites list. Having those distractions on silent made it very easy to forget about my phone, and the world went right on spinning.

Now I’m off to enjoy one more smartphone free night as I head out to dinner with Megan and her parents, and yes, I will be leaving my iPhone at home!

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