A Day Without a Phone, and Why You Should Try It

2 months ago, when I was in a gas station, a motorcycle crashed into an angkot (minibus) and the lady motorcycle driver got thrown off around 3 meters to the side from the impact and the minibus’ front bumper fell. The surprise caused me to let my phone slip my hand, fell to the ground, and lo, the gorilla glass cracked half the screen. Thankfully, the phone still worked, the touch was still responsive, it’s just a bit ugly to look at. (From what I saw when I left the scene, the lady driver was okay, a bit shaken, probably some scratches, but she already gained conciousness and recovering).

3 days ago, I finally found the time to turn in my phone for screen replacement. I put the phone in the shop in the morning, and I got it back late at night. The whole day I went without a phone, I still had a couple of meetings, 1 of which I didn’t know where it was, so I had to check the maps first before I leave the phone, memorize it, and tell my colleagues that I won’t have my phone for the day, but don’t worry, I will be on my meetings on time, please share with me the exact meeting spot.

During the past 2 months, the thing that has been holding me back from actually turning my phone in for repair was generally one of these few questions
“What if there’s an emergency?”
“What if someone important is looking for me?”
“What if someone got offended because I don’t reply quickly?”
“What if there’s a problem in my team and I don’t know until it’s too late?”

And more and more “What if”s

Not to mention I was also resistant because I was afraid of being bored out of my mind for the whole day, which can be summed as what people are saying as “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out).

During the ride to the first meeting, I was anxious, and sometimes shocked that I realize I have an empty pocket where my phone usually is. Then I had no GPS, so I have to rely on good old memory and instinct to figure out a good route to go to the meeting spot, and I needed to ask a few people inside the building before I got pointed into the right direction of the meeting.

But during the meeting and through the rest of the day, I realized something extraordinary.

1.I was laser focused

Without my phone, I cannot be distracted by it and I was forced to be in the moment. It also helped my driving as there’s no buzzing, and no beeps from a phone to distract me from what’s in front of me.

2. I was calm and engaged

It’s surprising how tranquil it is without the constant buzzing and lit up screen. There’s no pressure on constantly taking my phone out of my pocket and checking it for notifications. And not to mention, my pocket feels very light!

3. At the end of the day, it was okay to reply to all the messages, notifications, and emails at night / the next day(if it’s for work)
No one disses me, mad at me, or got offended because I didn’t reply quickly. I was also able to gather my thoughts and reply better than if I had replied instantly in the first place.

You should try turning off your phone for a day if:

  • You need to focus on something
  • You want to figure out something about yourself
  • You need to organize your thoughts

In all 3 cases, turning off your phone gives you time to be alone with your thoughts and you can slowly sort it out at your own pace. The important point that needs to be made is that if you go without a phone for a day, you definitely need to tell people you usually interact with everyday (like your work team), and anyone you plan to meet or follow up something with that day.

To summarize, although it will make you anxious at first to go a day without your phone, you will feel happier, and I bet you will find out something new about yourself at the end of it. Personally I will definitely do it again, but next time, I hope it will be on purpose, not because I had to turn my phone in for repair again.