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I Turned Off My Phone For A Week And Here's How I Got On

By seank

April 24, 2018 at 3:02pm

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I'm as glued to my phone as the next guy, but recently I've become sick of the negative effects that it has on me.

Phones mess with sleep patterns, allow work to intrude on free time, shorten attention spans, breed a need for quick hits of information. In short, we've become too dependent upon them. 

You only realise how much you need these devices when you're parted with them, so I switched mine off all of last week to see how I'd cope.

But it wasn't quite as simple as that, of course. First, I had to set a few ground rules. 

Due to the nature of my job, I couldn't afford to be completely disconnected, so I still had access to my computer and social media for a good portion of the day. 

This somewhat lessened the effect of my little experiment but I was without the convenience of a handheld device in my day-to-day life and that was the main thing.

Getting started

I'll admit it, the first few days were a little tough. 

You know that blind panic you feel when you reach for your phone and it's not there? I had plenty of those moments, which really made me realise just how frequently I seek out the device, as if my hand is on autopilot. 

Being without your phone for an extended period is almost like a phantom limb sensation, or so I imagine, feeling cut off from this tool that grants us easy access to the vast majority of human knowledge and lets you contact people around the world. 

There’s something unsettling about losing that connection.

Also, you realise how mind-numbingly tedious queues can be. 

Instant access to visual entertainment has made us impatience creatures. Weirdly, lunch breaks by myself became shorter. If you spend too long in a café by yourself without a phone to look at, you begin to worry that you're coming off a bit odd.

My overstimulation quickly became apparent and I could feel myself becoming jittery, tetchy, and incredibly bored – the withdrawal symptoms of the information addiction that we all suffer from. 

Phone Info

The benefits

But after the initial hump of the first few days, the positives began to roll in. 

'Switching off' from work is so difficult these days but turning off the phone allows you to separate from it completely. You can't dread that unexpected call if they can't call you. Your peace of mind skyrockets.

Of course, this self-imposed ban still came with some minor nuisances. You worry about emergencies. What if something major happened and you couldn't respond? Trying to organise meeting with someone suddenly becomes a pain. Even keeping track of time became a problem, since I haven't needed (or wanted) a watch since I got my first phone. 

I didn't have an alarm either but thankfully, my girlfriend's phone did so I didn't really have to suffer in that regard.

Now it might seem like I broken the rules a bit, but let's be real here: mobile phones are inescapable. I'd have to get everyone around me to join my experiment if I wanted to get the full effect. 

(Side note: Do we even say mobiles anymore? I feel like it’s been replaced by iPhone or Android or just plain old phone.)

The most curious feeling I experienced over the course of the week was a sense of nostalgia. Despite the odd blip over the years, I haven’t felt this disconnected in a decade.

So after a week without my phone, what did I make of it? 

To be honest, I felt like a weight had been lifted from me. Not being at anyone’s instant beck and call is blissfully liberating and it does wonders for your mental health. It's just a shame that being phoneless is far too impractical for existing in the modern world. 

If I do it again, which I think I will on my next long holiday, I'll go the whole hog: no phone, no computer, nada. I can't recommend it enough.

After all, how many hours of your life have you squandered staring at this screen? 

READ NEXT: I Tried To Be A Good Catholic For A Week And Failed Miserably

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