5 Things I Learned From Being iPhoneless

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Like most people, my phone is my life. Email, appointments, fitness tracking, alarm clock, notepad, e-reader, social media, password log… You name it, I’m probably handling it with my phone.

As a marketing and social media manager with a full schedule and social calendar, I am constantly coordinating my personal and professional life over text messages, email, and voicemails. I keep a running to-do list on my phone for the week. If an appointment isn’t on my calendar, it doesn’t exist. Nights can find me playing around on all the popular social media platforms, under the auspices of “researching”. But really I’m just a social media junkie. And yes, my cat has an Instagram.

This is the absolutely true story of what happened to me when I found myself suddenly iPhoneless.

I had a business trip on a Wednesday. Monday morning, I was applauding myself for being so organized and prepared to miss a few days at the office.

Monday afternoon, the unthinkable happened: one mishap with my water bottle later and my phone was toast.

Cue complete and total panic.

By the time my boyfriend came home from work, I was quietly crying under a blanket on the couch when I realized I wasn’t getting my phone replaced in time for the trip.

He told me I looked like ten of my closest relatives had just died. Then he offered to let me take his phone for my trip.

Now that snapped me out of my pity party. I was bemoaning having to jury-rig my iPad to take the place of my beloved iPhone and here he was, ready to go cold turkey on his smartphone so I’d stop crying.

[What a keeper, am I right?!]

He was completely and totally right though. Aside from the obvious fact that I was suffering from a bad case of #FirstWorldProblems, maybe it was time to dial back on my over-reliance on my phone. I could get through this. I would get through this. The first step was to stop crying and start acting like a winner.

So without further ado, here are the 5 things I learned from being iPhoneless:

(Caveat: I did get my iPad to act as a stand-in for my broken iPhone. But in dropping back from 128 GB of storage to 10 GB and no calling option, I still learned quite a few things from my smartphone break.)

1) Clean Up. If you can’t remember at a glance when the last time you used that app was and what it’s for, it’s taking up space. I deleted apps left and right from the iPad to make room for my essentials: the standard iOS install, Hootsuite, my email, my Fitbit, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Voice, and my social media. Everything else was an extravagance. And all those extravagances didn’t have a desktop option. Instead of helping me coordinate on the go, they were literally cluttering up my life without giving me anything meaningful in return. I know you’re obsessed with Neko Atsume, but your real cat called and she misses you. And wants you to take more pictures for her Instagram.

2) Memorize Essential Phone Numbers. I know maybe 10–15 numbers by heart. One of those numbers is the family home of my childhood best friend who currently lives in another country. Not so helpful. When it came down to it, I realized that I only knew the cell numbers of 3 people who live in the same city as me. If there were a real emergency and something happened to my phone, I’d really be in trouble.

3) Backups. It shouldn’t need to be said, but even a web-savvy person like myself fell victim. I last backed my phone up a few months ago. I lost a good chunk of my pictures, videos, contacts, and notes to myself.

4) Take a Breath. The world will not fall to pieces if that Instagram doesn’t get posted on time. Your best friend isn’t going to disown you because you didn’t call her back. There’s a good chance your client will forgive you if you miss their appointment. If they can’t understand, that’s probably not the kind of person you want as your client anyway.

And the fifth thing I learned? You would be surprised how many people are willing to help you.

From the boyfriend who offers to hand over their phone no questions asked, to the coworker who digs out their cracked iPhone, to the neighbor who lets you borrow their phone to make a call, if our over-dependence on our phones has done anything, it’s fostered an empathetic community… Because we have all literally been there.

If you’re wondering how my story ends, it took me over a week to get my replacement phone up and running. I went to my conference. I still have my job. My boyfriend still loves me. My cat didn’t lose all her Instagram followers. In fact, she’s more popular than ever. And the world didn’t end because of a broken phone.