I gave up my phone… and here is what happened

I am both angry and fascinated by mobile phone.

They are possibly the biggest opportunity to reach and educate and inform many people who struggle to get access to formal education (assuming they can get access to internet). At the same time they are also one of the biggest burdens to healthy living. I see so many friends and partners literally glued to their phones, checking them every few minutes (if not seconds), addicted to notifications, messages etc. Cutting off the opportunity to spend quality time thinking, networking, chatting, reading, brainstorming and appreciating the little magical things happening all around us.

But before I sound like a preacher, I am as guilty as those I point a finger to.

You might be like me (addicted to cell phones) if…

  • … first thing you do when waking up is checking your phone (hint: have a nice shower and breakfast first)
  • … you glance at your phone while going out with friends and family (it sends the signal that you aren’t really that interested in them)
  • You are chatting with your boyfriend/girlfriend while writing a whatsapp message (possibly the rudest thing you can do even if it seems acceptable. It sends a lot of negative signals that you may not be aware of).

Here is what I am doing to stop being a slave to mobile technology in a world which does require a degree of connectivity…

  1. I uninstalled all apps that are absolutely not crucial, for example:
    • Twitter (I LOVE twitter, but realised that it is absolutely ok to check it on my laptop twice a day)
    • Instagram
    • Facebook (unless you are running a page for your business… then keep it)
    • Games and passtime apps of any sort.
    • TripAdvisor (unless you are running a business with it… then keep it)
  2. I reduced the following apps usage
    • I removed myself from any WhatsApp group that is absolutely not necessary
    • I silenced all notifications for all whatsapp chats
    • I silenced all notifications from anything but SMS and calls.
    • Silenced all notifications and popups for emails.
  3.  I changed my behaviour:
    • I actually switch off the phone while I am working or in meetings. Literally off (you will not believe how much data your phone uses while on standby – around 50MB per day if not more).
    • I leave the phone to charge in my home office so it is not in my bedroom.
    • I bought a cheap (R 150) alarm clock tuned to ClassicFM to wake up.
    • I always carry paper and pen with me and start writing much more… which has dramatically increased my attention span during meetings.
    • I have bought a really cheap (R 220) SMS only phone so that if there is any emergency I can be contacted. This is a phone I carry with me. It has 10 crucial numbers saved on it. Pre-Paid airtime only.
    • I use my laptop much more and google’s voice dictation software (open gmail, google docs and open a new document – you will see an option to use Google voice… It works brilliantly)
    • Do not take your phone to dinner/lunches or meetings. Just don’t. You do NOT need it. Focus your attention completely on the person opposite you. Just knowing the phone is nearby will make you think of checking it.
    • Put your phone in the car booth with your handbag/wallet. Don’t keep it within reach of you while driving… I guarantee it is more dangerous to text/read messages and drive than you even realise. Don’t do it for yourself: do it for those you care about so that they don’t have to visit you in hospital or the morgue.

I realise that the above sounds a tad crude. I am not suggesting in any way removing yourself from this wonderful digital world we are experiencing – I am just suggesting to get some quality time back in your life. Phones as most of us use them are an addiction. It is time to kick the habit.

Phones are a tool. Learn to use the tool for your benefit but don’t become a slave to the tool.

oh… and watch how much you will save in terms of data consumption! 🙂

… and if you want some productivity tips, here is “York’s productivity tips – how to master information and work overload”



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