Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Why I Ditched My Smartphone

Everyone seems to have a smartphone. More and more newer and (we’re told) better models seem to be hitting the market each week.

Not only are consumers snapping up smartphones, they’re making them an integral part of their lives. You’ve probably seen it: people constantly staring at or thumbing their gadgets. It’s almost as if they’re mesmerized by their smartphones, to the exclusion of just about everything else.

While I was never that bad, a smartphone has been a part of my professional, and later personal, life for several years now. I started with a Blackberry, then moved on to a Nexus One running Android. Both phones have been useful, but …

Using a smartphone comes with a set of expectations. The biggest of those is the expectation that you’re always available. No matter what time of the day, and many people expect you to reply in minutes or sooner.

With a smartphone, I wasn’t more connected. At least, not to people. I wasn’t more productive. I wasn’t getting more depth of information. In fact, my smartphone promoted more grazing of information and provided a conduit for distraction.

With a smartphone, I wasn’t smarter or happier or cooler or better or anything like that. I was just becoming more and more in the thrall of a device.

And no matter how hard I tried, I found my habits changing. Slowly at first, but those changes rapidly snowballed. I was compelled to check email, social media, instant messages, and more. Constantly. Almost against my will.

I didn’t like what that was doing to me. I was falling into many of the personal and productivity traps that I continuously counsel people to avoid. Try as I might, I couldn’t completely break free of my smartphone’s grip. Especially after I cancelled my landline and used my smartphone as my main number.

About four years ago, I began undertaking digital fasts]( — not using my smartphone or my computer on weekends. Even with those fasts, and the rules I had set, I always found a loophole. I backslid. Badly.

But a few months ago, I decided to go cold turkey. After moving abroad, I ditched my smartphone. Now, I have a basic mobile phone. The phone is simple; it doesn’t do 1/10 of what my smartphone did. And guess what? I’m not missing anything.

If people need to get in touch, they call or text me. When I want to check my email, I use my tablet or my laptop. I’m no longer in the phone’s grip. It’s in mine.

Better yet, I’ve re-instituted my digital fasts. I’m happier and in control of my technology and communication.

That’s why I ditched my smartphone.

I’m happier without it.

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