Lessons from Three Days without a Smartphone

Last week I was freelancing for a German shoe manufacturer and our team was traveling through east and south Germany. On the second day, my phone started an automatic updated at night.

Fortunately, it was just before I went to bed. Unfortunately, the automatic firmware update of my Galaxy Note 4 failed and my phone was in an endless restart loop. I was without a phone for three days in a row. I didn’t even have an alarm clock for waking up the next morning.

What did I learn from travelling and working in Germany without a phone for three days in a row?

The first thing I realised right after my phone died was that I don’t know how to wake up the next morning without having an alarm clock at all. In my hotel room, I didn’t have a TV which had an alarm functionality and the reception didn’t have any alarm clocks at all.

I didn’t know the room numbers of my two teammates and I also had no way to contact them (how without a phone?). The only electronic device I had was my MacBook and I had to turn it into an alarm clock as fast as possible to get at least 5 hours of sleep. I used the incredibly slow internet of the hotel for downloading a Mac alarm clock app which I planned to use as my emergency alarm clock. Thank god that the MacBook settings are that advanced that you can set an automatic boot time. I set everything and I went to bed with the feeling that this will never work. Who uses a Mac as an alarm? Nobody? At least there were two apps in the MacApp store!

So well, if your smartphone is your only alarm clock at the same time you will have a tough time when it breaks down.

Next thing I learned was that nobody can contact you if you don’t have a phone. My client wasn’t able to call me. From this day on I was basically out of business. My two teammates Justine and Stephanie had to deal all business calls with our client. To be honest my life became much more relaxed without a phone.

Thanks Justine for making those three days not too bad 🙂

I had the feeling that I will miss 2 billion messages, e-mails, calls and requests in the following days. To be honest, the feeling to be unavailable was great. I was able to respond to the most important e-mails and Telegram messages at night or early in the morning. Everyone who called me was able to leave a message in my mailbox which I responded to a few days later. I became more calm and relaxed.

Also, the interaction and relationships with my teammates and other fellows became much more intense. I simply wasn’t able to read emails or check Facebook on my phone. I enjoyed having some conversations with my fellows without having a phone in my hand.

If you don’t have a phone you also don’t write empty messages with your friends and family. You simply concentrate on the moment and you can enjoy a deeper conversation with your loved ones in the evening.

The next days I felt more relaxed, calm and satisfied during the days and I answered to important emails during the evening.

LBH: The Phone is an indispensable Communication Device

It might be very helpful for some to simply reduce their smartphone usage but I think it is bad to not use a smartphone at all. It is an unbelievable powerful communication device. I can communicate with people from around the globe in real-time with the technology to encrypt all of my communication if wanted. The phone is an important device that connects me to my loved ones, it signals them that I am alright, I can tell them that I love them even while I am hundreds or thousands of kilometres away. I love my phone and I really appreciate the possibilities it gives us today.

No-Phone Time Frames

I am thinking about to introduce no-phone time frames during which I will simply shut down my mobile. For example in the morning and during times I am meeting with my loved ones. Let’s be honest what is worse than failed relationships with your mother, girlfriend, business partner, date, and your friends just because all of you are focussed on your phone screens instead of enjoying a real deep conversation together.

Phones also destroy a concentrated workflow. But this is another story for which I recommend reading “Deep Work” by Cal Newport.

What do you think, would you survive three days without a mobile phone? If yes how would be the effect on your close relationships?

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