Life without a mobile phone

It’s great! I really enjoy life without having a mobile phone! I feel so liberated from the shackles of technology.

On Day 1, as I turned in my phone to the Apple service centre, I asked, “How will I know when the phone is ready for collection?”

“Oh, we’ll call you and send you an SMS,” said the service lady.

I blinked. I wasn’t planning to use a replacement or backup phone. How would I receive the call or SMS?

“We’ll also send you an email,” she added.

“That’s fine then,” so I left. That was when it first occurred to me what do I really need a mobile phone for.

On my way home, I started to list out the things I needed my mobile phone for:

ONE: Phone calls

I hardly receive or make phone calls because I don’t like to talk on the phone. But if need be, there are other options to make phone calls.

TWO: SMS

Mainly to receive. Because my mobile phone receives OTP (One-Time Password) SMSes from a number of different online accounts. That’s a problem if I didn’t have a mobile phone.

THREE: Alarm clock

Yes, I could easily use another device or an actual alarm clock. Which I didn’t have. I would have to find one.

FOUR: Camera + Carousell

I have a hobby of finding things, taking photos of them, and selling them on Carousell for side income.

That was it.

That was all I really needed my mobile phone for. The other conveniences would be Google Maps and Gothere.sg to help me find my way to places I’ve never been to before. But the workaround would be to actually plan my route there before setting off on my journey.

It dawned on me that I actually don’t need my mobile phone for anything else!

For the next 3 days, I enjoyed being free. I spent my commutes observing other people. Two out of three commuters are engaged with their mobile phone. I started meditating, and letting my mind wander, instead of distracting it with information or mindless games.

I got so many good ideas!

My best ideas come when my mind wanders, and during these 3 days, I’ve gotten so many good ideas! Be it for business or for recreation.

I started taking notes the old fashioned way.

I wrote them in a notebook or scraps of paper. Writing with a pen has an inexplicable effect of clarifying my thoughts that writing on a keyboard doesn’t. It’s slower though, but formatting is a lot faster, so I could draw diagrams and such.

I was less contactable, and I got a lot more done.

Which was a great thing, because it meant fewer distractions, fewer notifications, and more time alone to do focused and productive work. I limited online communication to just email and Facebook Messenger. The Messenger’s notifications were still distracting. I have to find a way to turn them off, and check them only when I want to.

I’m not a disciplined person, so I don’t want to use valuable willpower on resisting the urge to check my notifications.

I was more present.

Without a mobile phone to distract me, I was more present wherever I was. In the presence of others, I talked to them. I listened to them. While they had the urge to check their mobile phones while in my presence, I didn’t. I just smiled.

When I was by myself, I was more present to me. I observed little signs that my body made. I observed little signs that my mind pointed out to me, signs that I would have missed if I were distracted. I enjoyed silence.

I collected my replaced phone yesterday.

As I received it into my hands, I observed a sense of disappointment. I was enjoying being mobile-free so much that having a mobile phone again felt like the shackles were being put on once more.

I decided to go a while longer without telling anyone that I got my phone back.

I received one phone call.

I made one phone call.

I received my OTP SMSes so that I could login to the various online services I needed.

I set my alarm clock.

I took photos of my finds and put them up on Carousell.

I downloaded a game to play with my wife.

I reinstalled Whatsapp – although this was a tough call. I really wanted to not touch it again, but people do reach me this way.

I turned off all notifications, and stuffed my mobile phone under my pillow. I would use it only when necessary. And I am planning to leave home without it.

I didn’t download all the other apps: Facebook, Messenger, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Quora, YouTube, various news apps, etc – the apps I use to distract myself from whatever it is I’m feeling or thinking. I left them all in the cloud.

Life was better.

It’s not just that life went on when I didn’t have a mobile phone. Life was better without a mobile phone. 

Life was slower-paced. There was more time to think.

Life was more enjoyable. There were fewer distractions, greater capability to be present.

Life was richer. The mind has more space to breathe and wander.

I want this to continue.

I consider this experiment to be a success, and would like to apply it to my daily life. My next experiment is to leave my mobile phone at home whenever I go out.

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