Cell Phone Distraction

How to Live Without a Cell Phone

by sscheper on March 8, 2010

Why should you read this chapter?

By learning about different methodologies of getting work done, and becoming more productive, you will learn how the act of giving up your cell phone allows you to focus on the most critical elements of your life. By ditching an item that serves as a constant form of distraction, you train your mind to become more focused and more productive.

Whether or not you decide to ditch your cell phone is your own prerogative. Any act or “How to,” is different for different people; however, the principles that underlie the act of giving up your cell phone are immutable. The principles of abandoning distraction always result in the concept of nowness. Embracing this principle will allow you to accomplish your goals and gain the freedom.

Why would anyone ditch their cell phone?

We see more advertisements in one year than people of fifty years ago encountered in their entire lifetime.

In 1971, the average American saw 560 advertisements per day.

Today, we see around 3,000 advertisements per day. What’s more, we now encounter around 5,000 distractions by constantly checking messages from phones, emails, IM’s, wall posts, tweets and more.

This is a massive increase; an increase that is not healthy–and yet, we’re still adding more and more distractions to our lives. We’re now adding iPhones, iPad’s, iPods and anything else to drive our dopamine-driven lives.

The human mind has 60,000 thoughts per day. In 1971, distractions controlled about 1% of our minds; today, advertisements and distractions control 13.33% of our minds. With distraction, and multitasking, your pre-frontal lobe falls into a sleepy, deteriorating state. As your distractions increase, your intelligence, focus and mood decreases.

In an effort to extricate myself from this growing trend, I decided to give up my cell phone.

What living without a cell phone feels like

Whenever you go on a relaxing vacation to a tropical destination, the first couple of days are a struggle–a struggle because there’s typically no cell phone service or internet. It’s odd, and almost unbearable. After the initial withdrawal from the digital world, life feels great. Life feels peaceful. There’s no phone, or distraction that enables you to stop what you’re doing and shift your focus.When you’re waiting in line, you’re not burying yourself into the digital cesspool or app store, you’re forced to interact with your surrounding environment. You suddenly become aware of everything around you.

This is how I live my life every single day. I duplicate the environment one typically experiences when on vacation. I do this in order to become a more focused, action-oriented person. I also do this in order to better enjoy life.

You can travel the world and live a nomad lifestyle; however, if you’ve still got an iPhone or clients buzzing at you constantly, you’ve escaped nothing. You’re just asking for attention.

You can live in New York City without a cell phone and gain more peace-of-mind than you could if you were in Argentina with an iPhone and needy clients barking at you.

My experience thus far

In a prior chapter I discuss my decision to ditch my cell phone. It’s been about a half-year since I’ve ditched my cell phone, and it’s been both wonderful, and weird. You have to learn to react differently in simple situations. It’s like writing with your left hand. At first it feels weird, but over time it expands your mind and increases focus. As discussed in the concept of flow, this type of activity significantly stretches your mind.

If you want to add both peace and challenge back to your life, ditch your cell phone.

For an example on the challenge, I was meeting up with my family at a hotel. I got to the building where they were staying, and suddenly it hit me–I had no idea what room they were in. In front of me sat about 14 rooms. And I had no cell phone. In the past, I’d simply make a quick call or text to figure it out.

Now, in front of me sat not 14 rooms, but 14 possibilities. So what did I do? I knocked on all 14 doors, and told 13 people, “Sorry, wrong room.” It was fun. It was simple. It got the job done. But this type of activity definitely takes a commitment. It’s not easy. At all.

Pro’s to a cell phone-free life:

  • Freedom
  • More productive
  • Better peace of mind
  • Allows you to focus on what’s really important; not get distracted with tweets and noise
  • Sense of humor (when in a stressful situation, you laugh because of the path you’ve decided to take. You take a joyous approach to life)

Con’s to a cell phone-free life:

  • Prevents simple fixes (like the quick communication above)
  • Can be dangerous if you don’t have it with you all the time
  • Can be ineffective if not leveraged right

10 Tips for Giving Up Your Cell Phone

1. Have a replaceable object

For a year and a half an iPhone always sat in my left pocket. After ditching my phone, it felt weird. It felt as if I was missing something. Obviously, I was. So instead of simply abandoning a device in my left pocket, I rotate different objects in there as needed: business cards, an iPod Shuffle (for audiobooks), notepad, note-cards or whatever’s needed at that time. Even though the feeling of forgetting something is all in my mind, having a replaceable object allows me to act as if I’m not missing a cell phone.

2. Have an emergency phone

Much like a fire extinguisher sits in a case, and is cracked open only upon emergency, so too is the nature of your emergency phone. It’s dangerous to not have a way of contacting anyone in case of emergency (i.e. car accident, car breakdown, etc.) For this reason, I recommend purchasing an a la cart phone plan from Virgin Mobile or Boost Mobile. Activate it, and leave it in your car turned off. If there’s an emergency, call with it.

3. Brace yourself

You’re going to encounter situations where you really need your cell phone to the point where it pisses you off. After a while, though, stressful situations will become humorous. Stressful situations without a cell phone teaches you to have a profound level of patience and trust. For instance, if you’re meeting someone at a restaurant, and they’re late, you just have to trust that they’re on their way. With my wife, we’ve established an unspoken trust that we’ll show up. And whenever we meet up, we meet up. We stick to our word of where we’ll meet, and trust that the other shows up. It’s a lot more peaceful this way.

4. Have a system in place.

If you’re really going to ditch your cell phone, don’t go into it blindly. Map out a system that actually works–a system that allows you to free yourself from the cell phone’s distractions.

My system:

  • When at work, I use my work phone for work related items
  • When on the road, I have an emergency cell phone (that sits in my car)
  • When at home, I use Skype or the house phone

Most people use their cell phones throughout all of those stages outlined above. They’re constantly racking up bills. Most people now reason that there’s no need for a house phone, or work phone. When you’ve got your cell phone, you can use it anytime, anywhere and now, for anything.

When you ditch your cell phone, you make a decision to compartmentalize your life. Additionally, you can leverage Google voice to catch your messages, transcribe them, and allow you to determine what needs to get done with that. Google voice (get a google voice account that emails you who called you, so that you can call them back on a work phone or a house phone whenever you’re ready to make the call). Use google voice to send text messages from your computer to their phones.

5. What about your friends?

It’s hilarious watching people’s reactions when you tell them you don’t have a cell phone–especially when you’re in the tech industry like myself. People exclaim, “What? How? Why?”

We’ve grown so reliant on cell phones that it’s somehow unthinkable to not have a cell phone.

They ask, “What about your friends? Do you just abandon your relationships?”

Obviously, ditching your cell phone bars your friends from having constant, immediate and never-ending access to you. However, when you ditch your cell phone, you’re not ditching your friends. You’re simply compartmentalizing your life and setting boundaries. You’re setting yourself up for a time where you can pay the attention that friends deserve–focused attention; not attention while multitasking.

When transitioning to a cell phone-free lifestyle, I recommend getting an account with Google Voice. Here’s the process I underwent:

  1. Set up an account with Google Voice
  2. Set up a cell phone message that explains your recent decision to ditch your cell phone. Here’s mine: “In order to become a more focused and productive person, I’ve decided to forego all inbound calls; however, leave your name, number, and a sweet little message, and I’ll get back to you at the appropriate time.” (Obviously, you can term it however you want).
  3. Google Voice then transcribes your cell phone and emails you their message
  4. Email your contact or call them back via your house or work phone when you have the time that your friend deserves
  5. Even better, set up a time for you guys to meet up in person

This will ensure a transition that isn’t ineffective and one that doesn’t simply block calls. Plus it prevents you from needing to create a Facebook group explaining your transition. That annoys everyone, anyways.

6. Call everyone back

Just because you’ve ditched your cell phone doesn’t mean you forgo the responsibility of calling people back. Because Google Voice allows you to receive voice mails via email, I recommend chunking your phone calls into one-time windows scattered throughout the day. This likens itself to email batching (email batching is a topic I’ll be covering later).

7. The secretary syndrome

If you have a wife, tread carefully when ditching your cell phone. Try not to make her feel like a secretary. Don’t do what I did. I was selling something on Craigslist and I gave them my wife’s phone number. She was pissed. She felt like a secretary. Additionally, my parents called her to get a hold of me; that’s not a very sustainable system.

For your parents or people that will actually call your significant other to get to you, make sure they understand your new system.

8. Meet up with people in person

If you’re making a business deal, or meeting someone and they’re local, don’t half ass it through an email or even a cell phone call. I’ve gotten about four deals done in the past month because we met up in person, it allows you describe ideas, map out ideas in person and get things done. If you want to be more efficient, as well as effective, I recommend meeting up in person. Tweeting and IM chatting will only get you so far in business. Even if you work in the web realm like myself.

9. Offline activities

Replace cell phone activities with mind-expanding activities. If your habit centered on making calls on your commute to work, replace this with a book on tape or audio CD. You can even get entire courses on tape–for free–for more information check out my chapter on hacking education.

10. Baby steps

Obviously this chapter is going to humor some, but most aren’t going to take action and actually ditch their cell phone. It’s still ingrained in our minds that it’s unthinkable–and for some, due to their work nature, it is unthinkable. What I suggest is at least experimenting by giving up their cell phone for a day or two. Or, if you have an iPhone, ditch the dataplan and try your hardest to use it as simply a phone. Try some experiments with your communication devices in order to become aware of how ditching your cell phone can result in nowness and awareness.

Conclusion

In this chapter we learned about the increase in distractions and advertisements over the past fifty years. We learned that we are constantly distracted, constantly asking for interruption. And we learned that through the practice of unplugging, one can discover how distractions have really driven their lives.

There’s also ten tips for giving up your cell phone:

  1. Have a replaceable object
  2. Have an emergency phone
  3. Brace yourself
  4. Have a system in place
  5. About friends
  6. Call everyone back
  7. Avoid the secretary syndrome
  8. Meet up with people in person
  9. Offline activities
  10. Take baby steps

Photo Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/scelera/ / CC BY-ND 2.0


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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Miles Moyers March 9, 2010 at 7:45 am

I use my iPhone for everything! I am out in the field almost 90 percent of my week, so I felt a twinge of panic when I read your post. I can almost hear some of the readers saying, “now that’s going too far”. But what am I thinking? I disconnected to a degree last September 09.

I came to the point where I was getting an average of 6 calls per hour to my cell phone from about 8am up to 7pm. With this amount of calls I was not able to focus on anything and could feel actual hatred building toward the vibrating sound of the phone.

I ported my cell number to a virtual PBX service and set up an auto attendant. In the style of Tim Ferris I left directions to answer most of the questions or concerns that I would normally receive during the day and they had the option of leaving a message or sending an email. I was issued a new cell number which I kept private and never set up the voice mail.

After doing this for several days I adjusted my message to reflect the questions or concerns left in the voice or email messages. Now callers are directed to either a website or an appropriate virtual assistant for most of their answers, everyone else leaves me a message which is emailed to me. I have just recently started testing Google Voice for all my personal calls and it is working great! Google Voice allows me to shut off any forwarding of calls or SMS text on a preset schedule.

Clients and associates have adapted to leaving clear complete messages which I check at predetermined times during the day and respond to via Skype or Google Voice.

After reading your post, it seems like a logical next step. My Iphone has become my primary portal to my business dashboard and the web, aside from flash video and extended writing tasks. Getting rid of it would be like me getting rid of my laptop.

I am going to experiment with an intermediate step before the ultimate disconnect. I am going to switch it to Airplane mode, this shuts off all phone functions. I will leave it in Airplane mode all day and see what happens. When I am out in the field or on appointments I will check my messages about 3 times a day through wifi from a public hot spot. I can make any needed calls through the Skype app or Google Voice. After I adjust my work style to fit, I can then cancel the phone service.

I foresee everyone adapting just fine, my wife has expressed she thinks I am off balance again, but that’s normal, right? Whats the worst that can happen, I focus more and give everyone better service?

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Scott March 9, 2010 at 8:24 am

Miles — Amazing, amazing feedback.

I agree with you. Most people will say that giving up your cell phone is going too far. When I tell people I don’t have a cell phone, they’re taken back. With this post title, it’s very intriguing, but many people don’t want to read it–because they don’t want to give up their cell phone. This is completely fair, and completely understandable.

I anticipate that immediately giving up cell phones won’t work for certain situations–such as yourself, where you use your iPhone as a computer–and you’re always on the move. You’re doing the right thing by easing into it.

I’m able to give up my cell phone because I compartmentalize my calls into two areas: work and home. I always have a means of contacting people; I just don’t have the means of getting interrupted with phone calls while I’m in the middle of something.

I definitely think the 80/20 method outlined in Tim’s book significantly supports giving up your cell phone. As you said, by making your customers use different resources other than your time to answer questions, will only allow you to focus more on the contacts that actually add value for you–the contacts that drive the majority of your business.

Re: your wife, tread lightly there. I’m still in the transition mode–blocking out everyone from interrupting me (besides my wife).

I like your idea re:

“I ported my cell number to a virtual PBX service and set up an auto attendant. In the style of Tim Ferris I left directions to answer most of the questions or concerns that I would normally receive during the day and they had the option of leaving a message or sending an email. I was issued a new cell number which I kept private and never set up the voice mail.

After doing this for several days I adjusted my message to reflect the questions or concerns left in the voice or email messages. Now callers are directed to either a website or an appropriate virtual assistant for most of their answers, everyone else leaves me a message which is emailed to me.”

Do you think you could elaborate on this process more, and outline the steps you took to set up a virtual assistant, how to train the VA, what directions to give them, etc.

I’d love to include your experience with this in the chapter. I.e. it would read, “One of our readers, “Miles Moyers, has established a process of easing into escaping cell phone distractions by hiring a VA to take his calls, here’s his process: … “

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Miles Moyers March 10, 2010 at 8:32 am

I wish I could say I used a nice and elegant process for selecting and hiring VA’s, but it was messier than other experiences I have read. I started looking for a VA prior to reading the 4 Hour Work Week method, so it started with more misses than hits.

I helped start a business where I needed bilingual VA’s. I looked up several of the larger universities in Mexico, Central and South America. I also contacted several business schools in those countries and inquired about hiring students who could work remotely. The skill set that I originally requested was:

Being fluent in the English language
Able to handle upset callers calmly
Basic office software skills
Personable on the phone
Broadband internet connection

Having never ventured into the VA realm I figured those skills would be sufficient since the students were seniors or first year graduates from universities and business schools.

I gave the schools my cell number so the students could contact me. The students would call me and we would interview in a casual manner. I was primarily verifying their English and phone skills, we ended up with about 25 VA’s at one time.

Every VA was assigned a Skype number and an extension through our PBX system. All calls came in through a central number and were automatically routed to the waiting VA’s. We would email them an FAQ of sorts with the basic questions we were aware of and the standard safe answers. If they came across any new questions or concerns they were to transfer the caller to a local person who would assist the caller, we would add to the FAQ as we came across new issues.

Through the PBX analytics we could see who was taking calls, who continued to transfer calls and who had the common sense to ask us more questions to prepare for the next calls. We distilled the group to about 10 VA’s total in two separate locations. After the initial weeding out, a local problem solver was sent out to their location and gave them face to face higher level training for a week.

Eventually the business was transferred and they kept the VA team. One VA really connected with my personality and work style, this is the VA I continue to work with today.

During the beginning you need to monitor everything. Being open with them as to exactly what you need and giving a deadline for the different tasks helps determine who will work best. It is better to take your time hiring. In the end you will end up with VA’s that work just like you do, so if we need to refine our work style and habits, now is the time. Our bad habits get magnified when we direct others from a remote location.

I am in the process of building a new VA team for a client and plan to use a system where automation helps filter the initial group. After reading about others and how they select and work with VA’s I plan to use a combination of:

A prerequisite reading list
Use of an online survey sites to quiz
A task list that requires research and common sense
Multiple phone and video interviews
Live monitored client calls, etc.

The skills I realized that are absolutely necessary are:

Work Ethic
The desire to want to improve and continue learning
Problem solving skills
Dependability
Common Sense
Did I mention work ethic?

Once they are part of the team, systems such as those provided by 37signals, VOIP and video conferencing will help keep everyone working in unison.

One thing I wish I had done the first time is the breakdown and documentation of the different processes and procedures. This takes the most time, but with out it you position yourself for frustration, stress and disappointment. If you cannot accurately and simply describe what and how to do something, you absolutely need to. It is keys to a smooth working relationship with your VA’s and a necessary element to a smooth automated process that results in a high quality experience for your end clients.

There have been several VA firms that have been publicized with mixed results, I plan to look into them. In the end my clients want a VA team that can be a direct extension of their existing business so building a team from scratch may be the solution best suited for them. Others may want to use eLance to have VA firms bid for their business.

These are by no means all-inclusive instructions. I plan on putting together a comprehensive guide for my clients that choose to build their VA team themselves, but that is still in the grease pencil and napkin stage.

I hope this helps.

-Miles

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Scott March 10, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Miles — Thank you very much for the insight. I, too, dove into outsourcing before I truly understood how to get things done, and who to hire. I ended up spending money on activities, rather than results–essentially, things I needed done.

That’s interesting that 37 Signals products are working for you. I keep hearing great things about it, but every startup I’ve been a part of gravitates to the good ol whiteboard. I’ve tried implementing Basecamp a number of times, but white boards, pads of paper, and grease pencils got the job done.

I’ve found that the best tool for getting things done through outsourcing is a simple checklist. Very, very specific and defined checklists and activities. After reading Checklist Manifesto http://bit.ly/bQ9kR0 I believed this even more, heh.

Anyways, thanks again for sharing. I’m torn on whether to include this in the chapter above, or creating an entirely new chapter dedicated to focused outsourcing. I’m leaning towards the latter. I’ll keep you posted!

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Sam March 26, 2010 at 8:56 am

Interesting post. I have been relatively cell phone free my whole life. I received a company issued phone in 2006. I used the company phone when I was out of the office on business trips or training, or played games when sitting at the doctor’s office.

I’m unemployed now. I purchased a pre-paid phone for emergencies and for people to contact me when I’m on the road. I honestly don’t understand how people can afford cell phones. A basic cell plan is $40 a month (nearly $500 a year); Data plans are about that, as well.

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Scott March 29, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Sam — Thanks for posting! Heh, I went through the same thought pattern after giving up my cell phone. At the time, spending over $100 on a cell phone was a no-brainer; now, I’m not sure why or how I did it! It’s amazing how we don’t realize how addicted we are to something until we’ve stepped away from it.

How’s everything else going now? Are you able to find work? Feel free to shoot me an email; I’d like to learn more about what you do. Perhaps I have a contact in a related industry that’s looking for someone like you. Email me@scottscheper.com

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Leslie March 29, 2010 at 9:59 am

Really great article. I also read “Giving up your Cell Phone”. I have not had a cell phone since last November or so. Let’s just say Verizon and I had a wicked disagreement. I’m the person who was first in my group to get a cell phone – I also work in IT, and usually had my ear glued to the phone – later, my eyes.

I would use my BB as a procrastination tool. My head ducked under the covers at night, I would text and browse until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was the tool I used to re-connect to an old flame that would have been better left extinguished.

It was the lifeline when my elderly mother was still alive. But I no longer have to field late-night emergencies or argue with insurance companies or doctors (at least on her behalf).

I also don’t have a TV. Well, I have a TV – I just don’t have cable (since about last June), and the few shows I still keep up with, I watch online. The local TV signals are not strong enough to make it out to where I live. Heck, when I did have cable, there were only a few channels I would watch anyway.

My decisions were not about saving money – although that has been a bonus. My cell phone bill was running about $120/month and cable/internet was around $100. These weren’t conscious decisions: they were motivated – or planned? – by outside sources. Sometimes some of the best decisions I have “made” have come about in this manner.

I set up a Skype number a while ago, and aside from the crummy internet connection I now have, it has done quite well. And it’s about $12 per year!

I have been fiddling with the idea of getting another cell phone. I’ve hemmed and hawed and tried to justify the expense, and indeed, the distraction, but I’ve been unable to. Others have suggested what you have done – a pre-paid cell phone, and now I’m thinking that’s not a bad idea. Right now, I just keep a charged inactive cell phone in my car. I can always call 911 on it.

I’m thinking of investing in an iPod or some other device I can use as a cell phone when wifi is available. I have an old iPaq, but not sure I could use it as a phone. Any suggestions?

If you’re interested, I can let you know how this decision has changed my life. I think this post a little long as it is . . .

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Scott March 29, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Leslie — Wow, your experiences are very, very similar to mine!

Specfically this one:

“My head ducked under the covers at night, I would text and browse until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was the tool I used to re-connect to an old flame that would have been better left extinguished.”

I used to do this every night. It was like going to bed after running a marathon. My mind would race to sleep, and I would wake up profoundly unrefreshed. It wears you down after a while.

I explored a wealth of options when giving up my phone. I’ve simply settled on a pre-paid emergency phone that I house in my car; yet, this works for me because I’m usually either on the road, at work or at home. I don’t travel much, so no need to have a phone otherwise.

I looked into using Skype on an iPod (or soon the iPad) when connected to wifi; the only problem is that you’re connected to Wifi rarely (unless you’re at a Starbucks or Panera bread all day).

It’s critical to identify exactly why you’re considering a phone again. I think after identifying exactly what it is you’re missing, you’ll be prepared to make the correct purchase decision (whatever it may be).

Please do share how giving up a cell phone has changed your life.

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Leslie March 30, 2010 at 8:00 am

Why would I want a cell phone again?

1) Safety – first and foremost. There are times when it would not be appropriate to call 911 – flat tire, for instance. (I DO change my own tires, but those darned pneumatic wrenches often make it impossible for me to loosen the lug nuts)

2) Connection to friends and family. I know I am missing out on spur-of-the-moment get-togethers. I feel a bit disconnected, and not necessarily in a refreshing way.

I guess those are the only two I can say are really justifiable. I loved being able to Google answers on the fly, but what did that REALLY bring to my life? More people who hated what a know-it-all I was? Being able to Google directions was a huge advantage. I’ve since discovered there are things called “maps” made out of paper that you can carry in your glovebox. You don’t even need to charge them!

So, perhaps a small voice allowance with unlimited text might be a good choice. I’ll ponder it for awhile more.

How has giving up my cell phone change my life?

- I’m a safer driver – no more fumbling for a ringing phone at the bottom of my purse. No more struggling to read texts without my reading glasses.

- I sleep better – no temptation to grab the BB and hide under the covers, surfing all night.

- One less interruption at work

- One less bill to pay.

- I anticipate gardening will be much more relaxing.

- I don’t drop the darned thing when I’m juggling two big-dog leashes and a potty bag. (Never dropped it IN the potty bag, thankfully!)

- I’m living more purposefully. I pay more attention to my surroundings: the sounds, the smells, the views. I touch the soft spring leaves on a newly-budding tree, listen to the birds sing and wish I could tell them apart. But I’m no longer compelled to Google the answers right then and there.

- I guess you could say I’ve got more patience. Delayed satisfaction and all that.

- I connect with the people around me. I smile at cashiers, students on campus, chat with people in line at the grocery store. The little niceties my mom taught me.

- Coupled with giving up cable, it has provided more opportunity to read, to write, to do some of the things I had replaced with things like Facebook and silly online games (never was a hard-core gamer).

- I meditate more. More opportunity to just be.

It has made me, for the most part, more relaxed. If I had young or old ones depending on me, I wouldn’t feel right about the decision, but the dogs can usually fend for themselves during the day. Even the speed dial buttons on the phone are too small for their massive paws.

Hmm – but a webcam? With a remote controlled treat dispenser. Maybe that would finally train the puppy out of chewing me through house and home. No cell phone required.

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MooNWalker April 26, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Leslie, you can make calls with iPaq if it is powerful enough to run Skype or some other VoIP program. With application it’s much faster and easier to exit out of it then switch your phone to airplane mode.

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Scott April 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm

MooNWalker — iPaq looks pretty neat. Do you have one?

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MooNWalker April 27, 2010 at 7:55 pm

No, Scott, I have Google Nexus One. Use Google Voice for SMS and voice mail. For me it’s a mobile computer first, with SSH, VNC and RDP clients for when I need to manage remote machines while on the go; all communications (email, IMs, etc.) moved away from main laptop, except email – I still write emails on laptop because it’s easier to touch type then thumb type; task list with timer (Pomodoro Tasks), quick notes, meditation timer (turns off even those few notifications that I still have on while engaged), simple music player. Also thanks to variety of applications for Android platform it’s a contacts hub between my Google account, facebook and vkontakte (russian clone of facebook), correctly (most of the time) merging accounts across all social networks. So far I haven’t figured out how but I want to hack SIP client to work with Google Voice so that I can ditch my voice plan.
Before I switched to Android I had Windows Mobile based PDA phones, which is basically iPaq + built-in phone and 24/7 access to internet.

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Leslie April 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Hmmm – might have to dig up my iPaq. It’s quite a few years old, though. I used to have a Sony Clie, and I loved it, but they pulled out of the US market. So I ended up with an iPaq that did WAY more than I needed it to. Funny in retrospect! I have to say, though, one of my favorite things to do (I’m baaaad) was to change the TV channels while having a bite at a restaurant or bar. Tee hee. Far easier than trying to get the bartender’s attention.

Also might consider the Android. Thinking, thinking. Love the meditation “mode”. SIP – another intriguing idea.

@MooNWalker – thanks so much for your input. Have run into a few times recently where I REALLY wished I had a phone, but managing pretty well overall without it. So much is retraining yourself – like dog training – it’s more about training the owner than training the dog. :)

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Mike Miller August 1, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Thank you all for all of your comments. I felt like I was completely alone in my decision to give up my phone. Everyone still thinks I’m crazy. Bottom line, cell phones give everyone an excuse to fiddle and sidetrack. It’s the ultimate rude machine when everyone at the table has their phones out and no one is making eye contact. It honestly feels like we’ve progressed into a modern version of the twilight zone or zombie land. MUST… CHECK… MY… eeeeee-maiL!!!!! Thankfully most young people are evolving away from the television, but sadly toward these devices for instant gratification, chatting etc.. Soon, we’ll have organic antennaes growing into our spinal cords and tapping into our brains for telepathic communicating. Once Verizon comes out with that, I’m moving off this planet!! Its really awesome we are having this recession so that more people can “focus” their money wisely and ditch the distraction and start paying attention to what really matters… like surfing (:

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Carrie September 16, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I havent had a cell phone in over 4 years and I am 25 years old. TRUST ME all my friends and people I tell this to who are my age thinks I AM CRAZY! But its actually quite liberating and its sad so many people miss things because there head is buried into there phone and not whats right in front of them!

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roger September 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

Hi, amazing, I’m actually sick of my phone and seriouslly thinking about getting rid of it. I really like the “fire extinguisher idea”.

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Nic October 18, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I’m doing it. Dropping my phone and getting an iPod Touch with GV. I can’t stand cell phone companies in the US.

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v.m.p. December 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm

great article. i have just had some bad experiences with cell phone companies recently that i feel like i’m ready to give it up for better peace of mind. like some of your other readers, i was the first to get an iphone amongst my friends. i am tech savvy, like yourself, having worked in digital marketing and freelance web design. yet, i can’t handle having something that makes me so stressed out. i recently signed up for google voice and realizing that starbucks now does free wifi, i feel confident that i can be phone free. i’m thinking about investing in an ipad so i don’t have to carry my laptop around and getting a cheap pay as you go plan to have a phone on me for emergencies (giving out that number to family and close friends only). i feel so much better already. thanks for such a great write up. it really made me feel better.

i wanted to share this link as well, it claims to be the world’s simplest phone: http://www.johnsphones.com/
a friend of mine sent me the link after i posted on fb about my trials and tribulations. i would love something like that.

thanks!

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Leon Stafford January 26, 2011 at 6:15 am

Hi all,

Good to hear this. I’ve been through several phones this year, iPhones and Androids for various reasons and just sold my last Android to a friend who lost his phone and was having bad withdrawals!

I’m a fairly anti-social person – not to say I’m not friendly and fun to get along with, just that I don’t feel a need to contact people every day or keep an active Facebook account, etc.

I work in IT, almost all remotely and have 3G usb thingies for my MacBook Air. This allows me to check emails perodically while out and about (another area which I try to control, but often gets the better of me!).

Most projects I handle for clients are not ones requiring instant emergency support, and in any case, they can happen 24/7, so I may be asleep. Better to implement a group email address to my workers in different timezones, so someone can always deal with any server or technical issues requiring immediate actions (few and far between).

So, right now, I’m without a phone and am at home, so not such a problem. My only concern is that we are living in China now, and if there were a family emergency, my wife would have to contact someone else if I were unreachable. I do try to make a point of having more than one person for such emergencies available anyway, usually one which can speak the local and our languages.

I’m willing to stick with it for a while, perhaps get a tablet on 3g, big enough that I can’t pull it out of my pocket, but more convenient and cheaper than a laptop for times I do need to check emails / voice messages.

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anniee May 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

i just read this im in high skool in the uk and i got my phone taken off me by my skool for 5 weeks and im finding that difficukt so i dont see how u all r livin wivout phones weirdos…
i have a bb nd im usually glued to it and im not findin life easier im finding it ridiculously hard its impossible to live without my phone its just to hard i even lied to my hedteacher to get it back im that desprate i hate livin without it

sincerley depressed without my phone

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Alejandro May 24, 2011 at 11:16 am

I wouldn’t know how I to live without my cellphone, but I know someone that does, and I admire this girl for that. The problem is that she is the love of my life, the most beautiful thing alive, and it drives me crazy when I can call her to let her know I am going to be a few minutes late, or to ask her: …” where the heck are you, I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes, and I am dying to see you”…Or did you sleep well last night? Still need a ride? Why didn’t you answer my last email?

Can you see my point? She is the most incredible person alive, and someone that doesn’t own a cellphone…go figure.

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Honest Ken June 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm

32 and living Cell-phone-free – thanks to my gf for putting it thru the wash with the other dirty laundry. and happily TV-free for about 7 yrs now.
i deviced to try an expirement and see if i really “missed” my phone- nope!
so, as for all this talk about emergencies:
1. everybody else around you has a cell phone – so no big deal. just remember one or two more numbers and call them if you need to. (this requires that you are able to actaully communicate with other human beings and convince them to let you use their phone – which they regularly pay far too much for out of fear of inconvenience)
2. in the event of an actual emergency any cell phone would be useless; likewise/thus the conversation itself
3. carry a coin or two and use a pay phone, use your phone at work, or use your computer to call via an i-voip app

as for the wife factor …
in my experience with girls & their phones, you will lose this battle regardless of how rational & sensible your arguments are – so don’t even start it

and the money.
this is really where it all gets quantified. look back in your bills and see just how much you paid last month or previous and so on. its really too much

the lifestyle
since the majority of posts are also IT pers, it seems it is rational to assume that a scientific mind finds cell phones unnecessary with all the other options out there. dont be afraid to try them – some suck and are a waste of time, but others do work. remember old-fashioned solutions like bartering with a local land-line telco company for a decent rate plus a built-in answering machine on your home phone combined with a pc-modem; with the right stuff you can totally route your calls to wherever you want, incoroperating variable conditions that you set. or go with Google voice

living without a cell phone is great and other people will not understand your decision, but thats why you are you & they are they

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Kirsten June 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I’ve already made up the decision to give up my cell phone and this article was really very helpful. Thanks so much :)

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Pedro Mells July 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm

i finally got the courage to live without a cellphone well… for a few days at least the expierence wasn’t what i expected and i plan on getting an ipad doesnt work for everyone but it can be done thats for sure i’d like using it to make effortless money minus telemarketing anyone with ideas about marketing contact me im looking for ebook applications and online ventures etc

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Jason July 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm
Pattey September 11, 2011 at 11:22 pm

I don’t watch TV at all (but do have one for movies I rent occasionally) and hardly ever use my cell phone – which is only used for calling and texting – I have resisted data plans and fancy app~lirific phones so far! The only electronic device I’m on the most is my laptop and I’m quite sure I do need to start curbing that as well! I’m just an avid learner and take advantage of free schooling and downloading when I can LOL

I’ve always thought about ditching my cellphone because I’m tired of paying for it. I have Cricket right now and if I’m not at home in the inner city but further out past the suburban districts, there’s no service anyway…so I figure why not get rid of it! I just spent 2 weeks traveling in China and was more than happy to turn the damn thing off and leave it in the suitcase. It was soooooo nice not having it!! I just felt so much better and upon returning home was really sad at the slave-like feeling of knowing I had to turn it on in case of work related matters or landlord issues.

The one thing that’s been holding me back is the whole “in case of emergency thing” but I’m realizing more now: that’s just fear…and fear is probably the most controlling factor in all of our lives that drives us to do many of the things we do! So then of course I’m thinking:
- if I were in a serious emergency in the middle of nowhere, I probably wouldn’t have a signal to reach anyone anyways. I should be using all mental/body energy to survive and build some type of distress signal…

- I don’t ever drive far because everything I need is so close, so if my car broke down, I would just leave the thing there and hop on a bus home…

- I live in a very large city…if I was injured I’d like to think that a good-hearted person would help me! Especially if I was knocked unconscious!…

- if someone was attacking me, a think a knife/pepper spray/tazer rather than a cellphone in my pocket/purse would be a better choice…

So after reading this, I’m definitely going to ditch the cellphone!
I’m using a Cricket broadband aircard for internet right now which means I can still receive texts through it to my computer…and now that Google voice exists…perhaps I can set something up through the same phone number as well? In any case, this is definitely all I needed to confirm to me that my heart is right…it’s time to ditch the electronic weight and connect to what really matters…REALITY!!! :D

Peace and Love to you all! Hopefully more people will do this in the future and pay attention to each other fully!!!

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James September 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Hi,

I just read this article and wanted to say this is a very good! I can relate to this in so many ways. I’m a 21 year old college student who currently doesn’t own a cellphone and I do agree with so many points. For example, you feel your at ease, freedom and a sense of peace, tranquility without a cellphone. This is really true!

I’ve been wrestling myself with the idea of having a cellphone for the past few days. And Unlike most college students, I currently don’t own no video game consoles (Ps3 Xbox) at all. I find it very unproductive. Maybe there will be a time when I need one, but I’m just enjoying life without one. You keep your mind free, I’m focused with school and finding other things that are productive.

Also, I sometimes imagine myself in a prison (never been to one) or some type of trip without one. Pretty much, I believe that I feel somewhat conditioned without having use for one. But yea, only downfall is many people think I don’t have that many friends, etc. It could also be the case that I’m an introvert. However, if theres ever a day where I can’t carry a cellphone on me, I’ll make it because of my current experience. And again, good article.

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MK September 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Fantastic advice so glad i came across this site

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H.T. Christopher September 23, 2011 at 6:55 am

I grew up in a time when people got along fine without cell phones. When cell phones became available to the public, it was more of a luxury item. I remember when there was no caller ID. Now people will ignore your calls if you call from a number they don’t recognize, and it very well may be an emergency.

Yes it is convenient to have a cell in case of an emergency, but it is not necessary. Having a cell phone does not guarantee that you will be available to receive every emergency call in real-time. I’ve been w/o a cell for about 6 months now. I use MagicJack when at home. When I’m out I use courtesy phones where available or simply ask a business if I may place a local call.

Before cell phones I could easily recall at least 30 phone numbers in my head. Afterward that number probably dropped to about 5-6, because it was so common to find a name and press “send.”

We are still yet to discover the risk of long-term use of cell phones. I got my first cell phone when I was 18 years old, and at that time, in the late 90′s there were no apps or other reasons to use your phone besides making calls when needed. Now kids are getting cell phones as early as 7 years old and are constantly on them. What will be the implications on their physical and mental health?

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Muskan February 9, 2012 at 1:40 am

November 25, 2011 at 4:19 pmThank you for the work you have put into this post, it helps clear up some qeiutsons I had.

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VC March 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm

What a refreshing read! I got hung up with a cel phone company ready to send the dogs on them, and now I feel much better! Thank you.
Having lost my ‘good phone’, I lived without one for a year of so and was given a new one with a company that leaves a lot to be desired.
While I am thankful for the gift, I realize I lost in the process. My peace of mind mainly. I realize I was also whining about having lost my old phone, and I realize in the long run it was a good thing.
So I am certain I can let go of this one in a gentle way.

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mamabear March 12, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I have been cell phone free for a year and a half. I have a landline instead. Life is better, quiter , I can focus on what matters, I get like 2 phone calls a day.. if someone really wants to talk to me they call my landline. Keeps all the extra yada yada crap out and makes for real conversations. Real relationships. People around me do not understand, in a emergency situation, I can borrow a phone, and no one seems to mind. I can actually see what is going on around me, and my kids get more of my time, I miss less of what is right in front of me, ( unlike those with their faces in their devices). Not to mention, I pay no more than 30 bucks a month for phone service,( including long distance which is free , thank you Google for allowing it on my computer) it does not drop calls, never needs charging, upgrading maybe every 10 years, if a cell tower goes out, people come to me to make calls. My kids can dial 911 if need be, with out trying to figure out a computer. It cannot get dropped in the toilet. I do not pay extra electricity to run my phone. I love being cell phone free. It is awesome, and saves me tons of money. (just add up what you spend from monthly bill to upgrades, to accessories to apps etc. ) I can talk as long as I want..24/7 oh the list goes on. Simple life. I know who my true friends are because those are the ones that are willing to talk to me face to face, or actually make a call to me on my land line. Not text me or email me. Look up people and see what is in front of you not your screen, its so sad to see that society is stuck in their screens and have forgotten how to communicate with those right in front of them.

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Letta Mego March 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm

You’ll thank yourself for not having a cell phone when you’re retirement age and aren’t dying of cancer or some other cell phone disease. It is proven that cell phone technology alters cellular glucose metabolism and calcium channel functins of cells. It sad how the telecommunication business and those that make money on cell phones don’t inform user, probably don’t know the facts themselves, but when they know, they even cover up facts. It’s nothing short of mass murder.

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samarpana May 29, 2012 at 2:13 am

I am a student of post graduation, i was a mobile phone craze i used all brands and all level of latest version,now at this stage i wanted to quit using cellphones i got bored with that..i had blank view to quit with restless action,but this article really helped me to have idea of quitting it.With all the pro’s and con’s.I wanna Thank for it!!!

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Yeshua June 16, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Ive been w/o a phone now for 1.5 yrs now. My friends think im crazy and usually make fun of me. I have contact with them only thru the email, which i promptly reply when im at home, but if im out in the world, im free from communication. Good to see many others living the life w/o a cellphone.

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Jack Laflamme August 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Fantastic article and I wish more people would follow your lead. While I appreciate the technology behind cell phones and the wireless data dimension, I have noticed that people are not only becoming more and more distracted in almost every situation, but also that people are becoming increasingly unreliable. Cell phones have enabled the fickle masses that have no concept of time to continue to live a worry free life. How many times have you received the “sorry, I’m running a few minutes late” or a “sorry, I can’t make it to dinner” only a few minutes before the meeting was supposed to take place? I remember the days (cell phones became widespread while I was in college in the early 90′s) when 7:00 meant 7:00. Prior to cell phones, if you made an appointment (business or personal) you stuck to it – and even showed up 5 minutes early and you only cancelled if someone in your immediate family literally died. Nowadays, I have no idea what 7:00 means to the wireless generation. I’m always there and on time. That’s when the text messages start rolling in… “leaving the house now”, “running a little late”, and even “will be there closer to 8:00, go ahead and eat”. Really? Go ahead and eat? Well, thanks for being so nice and allowing me to eat while you are running late. I’ve actually lost friendships due to this. So now I just guess. When there’s something going on at 7:00 I just assume that means around 8:00 and I usually show up around 8:15 or so and that’s been working so far. I’ve been winging it this way for about a decade now. Its like we’ve gone backwards in time to the stone age with cell phones. Meet for dinner “when the sun goes down” because if you suggest 7:00 you’re doomed and even called anal for showing up on time.

Cell phones enable the weak and procrastinators. The weak I say? Yes, because weak people will be constantly distracted by them and forego their more important responsibilities. It’s almost a snowball effect. Late for one thing? That’s means sending a few text messages. Which in turn makes you even later.

I have to say, I have noticed a substantial decline in the quality of human interaction, focus, and responsibility since the advent of the cell phone.

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Marlon September 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I am 20 years old and I haven’t had a cellphone in 3 years. In college, many of my peers cannot fathom not having one and asked if it was unaffordable and how I do anything.

I wasn’t paying my cellphone bill. I made the conscious decision to filter distractions from my life and focused on myself. When the time comes, I think I will get a cellphone and, perhaps, a car. If I should ever find myself in a meaningful relationship having a wife with child, that is when I would make the conscious decision to value that new life over my own. Otherwise, I have no desire to throw myself into the fray of constant communication nor the literal traffic that feeds my frustration as my instant gratification impulse is maintained just enough to keep me impatient.

I have completely killed my desire for instant gratification through these and other methods. With a cellphone, a car, you do not solve the issue, but merely feed it small doses enough to maintain the addiction.

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