Spoiler alert: Most of what I am going to say, you already know, but I think you need to hear it again.
When I was traveling to visit with my sister in Destin, Florida, for a quick getaway, I made a stop to charge my car. Since I had to sit around for a half hour while the car charged, I thought, “Why don’t I get some sun?” So, I pulled out my lawn chair, sat down in a park, and got some sun. In the end, I was so happy and distracted that I picked up the lawn chair without even thinking of my phone, and it flew through the air and hit the concrete. It got smashed. I found a repair store, but my phone wouldn’t be ready until the next day.
That night, I did a run in Destin, but it didn’t update to my running app so I could see it. My brain was programmed to get done with the run, check my time, sync with my phone, and sync with the internet. When that process was broken, it drove me kinda nuts. I had developed a need for my run to update on my phone app.
After the disappointing run and a full 24 hours later, what did I learn about living without a phone? All my emails, messages, and all the communication I received could easily wait 24 hours. There wasn’t anything that came in that couldn’t wait that length of time, and this was during the work week.
The second thing that I found was that I was reaching for my phone way too often. I also noticed that everyone else reached for their phone a lot, too. When I was sitting with people at dinners, I realized how often people were using their phones. It has almost become a physical addiction beyond just a mental addiction.
There were many good things that I realized about my phone as well. Many times, on vacation I wanted to take a picture, but I couldn’t. I also couldn’t share memories. However, one of the things I missed most was the opportunity to capture mental notes.
I use my phone a lot when my subconscious gives me an idea. I will typically grab that idea and throw it into notes on my phone. I encourage other people to do this as well. Taking notes with your phone is a way to remember those great ideas that pop into your head. As soon as I got the phone back, I wrote down the idea for this article.
After picking up my phone at the repair shop, I have made an effort to put my phone away more—meaning I set it someplace that is not directly beside me. I’ve started to make sure it’s not around me as much.
The other change I’ve made is taking a lot more notes on my phone. (Of course, this means that I have to go find my phone when I have an idea I don’t want to forget.) The human brain—specifically the subconscious brain—is really great at coming up with good ideas, but it is terrible at remembering them.
Especially as we advance in age, forgetting great ideas becomes even more common. I have come to accept the fact that my memory is not as great as I’d like, and I am using the phone more to take notes.
As I reflect on my time without my phone, I remember that compelling need for my phone. I had a need to touch my phone, check my phone for various communications, and to sync my run time on my running app. That need did not feel good. As soon as I got the phone back, I went right back to that need.
Phones really do manage our lives. If you want to learn more about our growing need to connect digitally, I recommend that you read Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter. I got a chance to really live the Adam Alter book and remember what life was like without a cell phone.
Written by: Wade Wyant
Red Wagon Advisors, West Michigan Scaling Up Coach