One Month with No Phone — How to Go Phoneless in a Major US City

Lane Wood’s last photo with his iPhone 5.

Preface by Tim/Editor

This guest post is by Lane Wood, societal entrepreneur, CMO of Humin, and alum of Warby Parker and charity:water.

I recently went four weeks without phone, computer, or calendar, while in Indonesia. But what if you’re in a major US city? Can you go phoneless? Lane shares his experience doing exactly that…

Enter Lane

Just over a month ago, I was in a precarious situation. You see, I’m new to the freelance game and through a series of novice moves, I found myself without a big client and no work lined up for July. It was a rough month.

I had already planned a mini personal retreat with some friends and decided to just go for it— and try to find some solace in the beautiful mountains surrounding Lake Shasta. Early one morning, I was in paradise as I breathed in the mountain air, looked for miles over the mountains and I snapped the photo above. Little did I know it’d be the last picture my poor iPhone would take.

Our crew decided to rent a boat, and we headed out with a tube and a wakeboard. When we were about 300 yards from the marina, the boat engine started having trouble and we thought there was a rope caught in the propeller. I decided to be a hero and dove into the water. With my iPhone 5.

Given my freelancer cash flow issues, a newly signed contract with Verizon and no insurance, I chose not to spend $700 on a new device. I powered up my iPad mini (with 4G) and spent the next month in San Francisco without a phone.

When I mention this to people, heads tilt to the side, eyes bulge and mouths are left gaping open.

“Wait, what? How… I mean… Really? No Phone?”


Now with intense curiosity, they lean in.

“What’s it like?”

They sound as if I’ve just told them I’m on ecstasy.

But I get it. Not a lot of people have had this experience. So I’d like to share what I’ve learned…

How I did it…

Texting: iMessage + Path.

Phone calls: Scheduled Google+ Hangouts and Skype calls.

Camera: Shameful and limited iPad camera usage.

MVP award for this experience goes to DODOcase. I’ve had it with me this whole time disguising the iPad mini. People assume that I’m carrying a journal around, and at a moment’s notice am ready to write down all of my profundities. I keep it tucked away in the back of my jeans and under my shirt.

Lesson #1: Mindless Phone Usage (MPU) is stealing our humanity

When one uses a tablet in public, everyone notices. It is not subtle. So if I want to text a friend, check my email or read an article, I have to answer this question:  “Is this moment appropriate for me to have this big device in my hands?”  Conversations will stop.  Strangers will look.  I will be “that guy.”

Result: I’ve stopped mindlessly checking Twitter. I’ve stopped using Facebook on mobile at all. I don’t refresh my inbox. I don’t fill awkward silences with technology. I’m mindful of the affect of my tech behavior on the people around me. I’m much more present, and I’ve grown incredibly irritated at my friends when they have their phone out for absolutely no reason.

Tinder. Twitter. Tumblr. Tinder. Twitter. Tumblr.

Refresh. Swipe right. Like. Heart.

MPU. Ugh.

I can’t stress how important this shift has been for me.

Lesson #2: Vibrate is the secret killer of mental clarity

Yes, it’s absurd to let our phone ring aloud in any public situation. So we put our phone on vibrate. Even still, we are interrupted by completely inane and non-urgent notifications pleading for our attention.Vibrate is the phone’s temper tantrum. And we reward it by giving our attention, rather than putting it in time out (do not disturb).

Result: Without a vibrating device in my pocket, I’m unaware of messages, notifications and the kicking and screaming that the operating system is doing all day long. I get out my iPad when I need to check in. I may not get back to your text within 30 seconds, and for 99% of situations, that’s acceptable. I’m more focused, less stressed and decidedly present.

Lesson #3: We use 5% of the photos we take and waste some of the best moments viewing real life on a screen

The best camera is the one that you have with you. Unless it’s a tablet.

I live on Alamo Square Park, and at about any point in the day, you can see tourists taking photos of the Full House houses with their tablets. Inexplicably it happens at concerts. Each time, I laugh and judge. Until recently.

Having only a tablet on hand creates a very interesting camera dilemma. I must ask myself, “Self, why do you need a photo of this?  Is it worth the scorn of your friends and strangers alike?”

Result: I don’t take many photos. While at Outside Lands music festival, I took only eight pictures in three days of festival revelry. And honestly, I think that it was enough. I have proof that I saw a Beatle and I have a couple of photos of my friends, The Lone Bellow and Kopecky Family Band, playing on stage.

Instagram users have yet to organize a revolt at the absence of my content.

Lesson #4: Having separation anxiety from a device is ridiculous and serious

Imagine this scenario: You’re at a friend’s house for dinner and your phone is in the car.

How do you feel? Need a Xanax? Are you plotting your escape to rescue your lonely device?

We’ve lost the ability to be fully present. This is not news. After a month of not having a phone, I don’t notice the empty pocket. I walk out of my room regularly without a device. Walk through the park. Eat dinner. No devices. I don’t feel phantom vibrations.There is a serious psychological and emotional difference when I’m not shackled to a device that is constantly begging for my attention.

I know this unintentional yet transformative experiment has been as much of a disruption for my family, friends and clients as it has been for me. So, after 31 full days, I’m currently tracking a FedEx truck bringing to me a shiny new iToy. I wonder if I have the discipline to retain new healthier tech habits. I can already feel the faint buzzing on my right leg.

If you see me out, falling back into MPU tendencies, you have permission to call it out. In hopes that we can all work through this together, I’ve started a list of ways you can gain discipline without spending a month sans phone.

How to “discipline hack” without giving up your phone:

1.  Turn your screen brightness all the way up when you go out at night. You will be very painfully aware of the fact that you’re using a phone and it will drain your battery. These consequences will help you use your phone only when necessary, and your friends will be more likely to call you out for having your phone out.

2.  Experiment with using Do Not Disturb functionality and turn your notifications off. Don’t reward your phone for throwing tantrums.

3.  Make an agreement with family and friends to call each other out for MPU.

4.  Leave a comment below to suggest your own hack!


AFTERWORD BY TIM: Have you ever gone without phone or computer? If so, how did you manage it? If you were to go 2-4 weeks without electronics, how would you approach it? Please share your thoughts below…

This post originally appeared on Medium. Published here with permission.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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220 Replies to “One Month with No Phone — How to Go Phoneless in a Major US City”

  1. Running a business I’d find it hard to make do without a phone. I rarely use my cell phone and don’t give out the number. Most meetings are via skype, but there are just some clients who want to talk and don’t have the technological ability to install or use skype. I’ve decided to start screening clients for the ability to use technology since I know those are usually my problem clients.

    Interesting read! Thanks.

  2. I’d turn off both the wireless and data, put then phone on DND (no vibrations) and only check once every 4-5 hours….

    This would preserve battery life and your presence within reality as well.

  3. I actually did this using the same inbox tactics from the Four Hour Work Week. Keep your phone on airplane mode (wifi off, too!) or “Do Not Disturb” mode, with the exception of twice a day – say 11:00am and 6:00pm.

    Check and respond to voicemail, twitter, etc. for ten minutes or so, then go dormant again.

    Easiest way to go about this in my opinion. Check messages and surf at those preset intervals only! Greatly improves battery life, too.

  4. A few things I’ve tried

    – Just leaving my phone at home for certain things like going to dinner. This is probably a good first step.

    – Turn off push notifications for everything.

    – The girlfriend has reluctantly agreed to a no phone while eating pact, but it’s difficult to enforce.

    I remember very distinctly when all of my coworkers had blackberries and I was using an old flip phone that could barely text…before the screen broke and I used it purely manually. It was just really strange watching them constantly checking and sending emails when we were just standing around waiting. You couldn’t have a normal conversation. There was this constant sense of urgency about things that just didn’t matter. I vowed to never be like them.

    Probably 7 years later I now have to fight against this in myself.

    If you have no other choice, my friend went the nuclear option. He bought a prepaid featureless cellphone that he uses for actual phone calls and ditched the iphone all together.

  5. Yes. Yes. YES. Going without a phone is so much easier than one believes. Just don’t charge the thing, and test out your resolve. In a week, you won’t even realize it’s gone. If you do, remind yourself that your computer does everything your phone does, so why not just one device?

    I went about 5 or 6 months without one last year, and would still be without one if my father didn’t bug me about wanting to stay in better contact with me. I didn’t miss it one bit.

    No one had phones growing up, so if you think *just* about that, getting rid of a phone is easy. I used to drive back’n’forth from NJ to IL at least once a year during college, all without a phone and no one thought twice about it. I had a CB radio. That was it. I think we fool ourselves (with the help of marketing), into believing we need this stuff.

    Worried about emergencies? Did you know that by law every phone has to be able to dial 911? So if you’re concerned about safety, cancel your plan, charge up your battery, and just keep that phone with you. You’ll be able to dial 911 if you’re ever caught in an emergency where a phone can be of use.

    My latest experiment in this regard is going without Internet at home. I moved about two months ago and didn’t sign up for Internet when I moved. The result? I save about $50 a month, have more time to myself at night, buy less crap on impulse at when I’m bored, and am learning guitar and Spanish – two things I’ve been telling myself I should do for years. That’s a win, in my book! 😉

    1. I’m curious to know how you read this post and replied to it if you are without an internet connection? Or are you secretly getting your internet fix at work?

      1. Hi Louise,

        Yep. I have Internet at work, and there is wireless on an upper floor of my building that I sometimes use (like now). I’m experimenting with giving up extended/always on Internet usage – not having wireless in my apartment is a big time saver. I’m not likely to sit here in the lounge and surf for hours like I’m inclined to do when I have it in my apartment. I also don’t have Internet on my phone. To me, it’s kinda’ like Cheez-Its. If I have them at home, I’ll eat the whole damn box in two days. If I just don’t buy them, then I can stay away almost indefinitely. Thanks for asking your question!

  6. I did 2 weeks on holiday in Spain (from the UK) a couple of years ago without a phone or computer and it was wonderful. There were 4 of us on holiday together, and whilst we all had our phones with us, costs were such that we agreed we’d only use them in dire emergencies. It meant we actually talked to each other when we were all in the living room together and generally had an excellent time.

  7. Hi, I’m still back in the middle-ages using a old flip cell phone in a regular manner to talk to people. Occasionally I’ll use the number pad to text but it’s kind of a pain. I don’t want to pay extra for a media plan or a fancy easy to break phone so I do not access internet via cell phone. I also had all media blocked. I do not like to be electronically attached all the time so regularly leave my phone in the car or buried in my purse where I can’t hear it. My friends know this and put up with it. I assume an ipad mini is a little computer? I take pictures with a regular point and shoot camera.

  8. I went without my phone for 2 months and I loved it. It didn’t annoy anyone too much with iMessage on my computer to answer people back when they needed me and no more calls.

    Only people who don’t take too kindly will be your employers who always want to track you down and make you work extra hours or significant others who want to check in and worry.

    Family are typically content to use FaceTime which is also available on the Mac and those calls only come in late evening or early morning when they are expected.

    Man I wish I never got my new phone now, those days were so much more peaceful.

  9. This post caught my attention because I love my phone and tablet free life : ) (People think I’m nuts, but that’s ok.) I keep a phone charged but off in the glove compartment of my car in case of emergencies. I take it with me if I travel. I turn it on when I’m meeting clients on location in case they are running late and want to contact me. But for everyday life, everyone knows to call my house because there’s no point trying to reach me on my cell. If I’m not home … leave a message. I’ll call you back when I’m not right in the middle of something. I’m kind of sad for people as I look around and see them all tied to their phones … it’s no wonder we’re all so stressed : (

  10. OMG… if must’ve felt like you were catapulted to… 1995!

    Seriously, kids… put the damn phone down and pay attention to life.

    1. Well said that man!

      When I started reading this I thought it could be interesting, but when she said she still had her ipad, I wondered what all the fuss was about.

  11. Preach, Lane! People who are so attached to their devices are training themselves to never be fully present. I wish my husband would do this experiment.

  12. I have an eCommerce business. It’s not outsourced because I like managing it myself, it’s like a hobby that also brings me income.

    And I’ve been living without phone for couple years now. I have an iPhone, but I don’t have SIM card in it, I just use it when I go out to check email if I visit coffee shop if they have wifi, 5 minutes. It started when I couldn’t afford to pay for it 🙂 And then I realized that nobody calls me anyway, all my communication happens via email. When business took off and I started getting money, I decided not to get phone service.

    Now… I spent 3 months in Japan, – April-June 2013. And when I came back to Vancouver, I realized that I don’t have any memories in my head. All my memories are on numerous videos that I was making while visiting different places in Japan. Well, I like those videos, but I didn’t feel like I was traveling at all!

    Now I’m in Japan again, moved here for a year or so. I told myself that I’m not going to take pictures or videos, – and I don’t. Finally I live my life through my eyes, not through the screen of iPhone camera! 🙂

    1. I thought I was the only one who did this. When we travel everyone is always saying “take a picture!” and ” get a video of that!”. Jeeze, I’d rather have the experience than some sort of proof that I had the experience.

      The only exception is when I see something that I know a particular family member would really have liked to see. Then I’ll get a shot or two to forward on to them.

  13. A few years ago I could not afford to keep my phone contract going and then my TV broke. Cue 7 months bliss I used my office phone to arrange to meet friends, had less anxiety (sure this was news related). And the final bonus was my grades improved at night school and I got promoted at work.

    Sadly I caved and bought a new TV in time for Beijing Olympics. I go regret that now and I’m giving serious consideration to going full cold turkey on both smartphone and TV.

  14. This may not be cold turkey, but setting vibrate to occur only for calls is a baby step you can do NOW. Notifications, emails, and texts can be silent. You no longer have the “I may miss a call!” excuse.

  15. I have heard people say they “sleep with their phone” in case of important calls or messages, or “their phone is like their baby”, they can’t be away from it for a minute…really???? What could be sooooooooo important and why is it so difficult to enforce no phone usage during meals? Basic things like eating, sleeping, exercise, bathing, and conversing with loved ones are the fabric of a healthy life. Amazing what we have deemed “normal” and even necessary. I have been living without a phone for 6 months. It works fine. There is nothing radical about it. My time is my own, appointments are arranged via email, and people show up when and where they are supposed to, unless hospitalized! MPU is disrespectful. I worry for our culture.

  16. Hi, this is really interesting. I actually went on a 2 week low information diet back at uni. I found it very transformative, I found myself with so much free time during the experience and afterwards I stopped wasting away my time getting stuck on loops of imgur, facebook, youtube ect. I still spent my free time on TV, movies, videogames, manga, reading ect but it was things that I enjoy and I felt much more control of my time and a much more clarity in my thinking without the constant internet and phone distractions. I also felt a big weight off my shoulders with so much distraction in my life no longer mentally weighing me down. I’ve been recently starting to go back to my distractions and I think now would be a good time to have another information fast.

    I’m not a huge fan of all these ‘hacks’ because they are a pain to implement and take more mental energy than they save usually. I would recommend just going on a 2 week information (or just smartphone) fast and coming back to it maybe 2-3 times a year.

    If that’s too much the number 1 thing that I would recommend is turning off all is turning off all notifications on your smartphone other than text messages and calls. It will free up so much time and be a massive mental weight off your shoulders too.

  17. I’ve never had this problem myself. My phone is perpetually on silent and Google Voice e-mails me with missed calls and text messages. My e-mail gets opened once or twice a day. No biggie. 🙂

  18. I saw Baratunde did this and wrote about it in a cover story on Fast Company recently. I’ve only gone a day or two without phone or email and it feels amazing. I think going a week without it would be a huge relief as well and plan to test this out in the next couple months for sure. Thanks for the tips here.

  19. Earlier this year I experimented with a 40 day modified electronics fast, allowing myself only quick, infrequent email/msg checks. It got easier and easier, but not long after the 40 days were up I found myself with nearly the same behaviors as before.

    Recently found the book iDisorder, by Larry Rosen, PhD, recognized expert in psychology of technology, a MUST read! Intriguing, helpful (and totally non-judgmental!)

    His goal is to help us “recognize the warning signs of iDisorders and develop strategies to maintain our humanity”, and I like the sound of his declaration that there IS a way “to achieve harmony with technology without being controlled by the constant influx of information.”

    Such a harmony sounds most appealing.

  20. I’ve got to say I don’t feel any attachment to my phone.

    I must sound like an alien.

    Alien… It got me wondering… how did I become this way?

    I think it all started in my childhood. When I was 12 I started traveling by car with my parents and brothers through europe. It was our family’s project. This continued for a few years (until I was 19) and one of the unexpected changes in all of us was the realization of how unnecessary most souvenirs, postal cards and photos were. One of the best things about traveling are the shared memories and you can access them anytime you want. Yes we took photos but less and less as years passed by.

    So, when phones with cameras started being normal and people start clicking at everything that moved I instantly had a flash of asian people taking photos like crazy. I never really joined the revolution. I don’t believe that “unless you share it on facebook it didn’t happen”.

    It might have been that or it might have been a statement from my father. When I was 13 I went to Azores in a school trip and when talking about calling home my father simply said “If everything is ok you don’t have to call. I know everything is alright” (can you tell my father was not average? he traveled through southamerica for 2 years, lived in different parts of europe for many years and married at age 31).

    Well I’m sure it was that and many other little things but all and all I don’t see what the fuss is about with phones.

    I do always carry a book with me, though. I guess that makes me even weirder. I guess I just think that if someone is running late and I find myself alone I’ll just read for a while.

  21. My wife and I packed up our house in NZ and worked/travelled through North America for 15 months.

    We travelled, stayed and worked in LA, San Fran, Portland, Seattle, New York, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

    We survived these 15 months without a phone or permanent internet connection. We took my Mac, and connected at hotspots when needed, but for the most part were off the grid. Words cannot explain how eye opening this experience was.

    The craziest thing was my wife and I still managed to

    – keep dates, and appointments

    – be in separate places and not get lost

    – meet “new and old friends”

    – stay in touch with family at home

    – get jobs and hold regular employment

    Sure it took some planning and forethought, but was totally worth it.

    Apart from being fully present one of the biggest benefits I found was respect for time. I found not only was I more punctual with my time, but it also eliminated others being able to cancel at a moments notice.

    Merry Christmas from New Zealand 🙂

  22. Memorise the handful of numbers that you actually need, then leave your phone at home. It’s always easy to borrow someone’s phone to make a phone call or send a text if you have to.

    1. This doesn’t make sense, does it? The idea is to be able to have healthy communication and being able to stop being addicted to your phone, not taking advantage of other people’s addiction :/

  23. How I created a profitable business in 1 month by living without a phone for a year and a half:

    2 years ago I decided to quit my “real job” and move from my beachside apartment in San Diego to my parents basement on a farm in Utah. Why? To minimize my monthly expenses down to nearly zero while I murdered my inner wantrepreneur.

    I had everything I wanted except for the pursuit of my entrepreneurial dream. So I was ultimately unhappy despite being very cozy sucking the corporate teet. My job was even easy and fun, but it had stopped challenging me.

    Tim doesn’t usually condone quitting your job to become an entrepreneur, but I knew that advice didn’t apply to me. I knew I couldn’t fail. I quit my job, sold most of my things, literally destroyed my blackberry out of pure hatred, set up a skype number directing to my google voice number on my iPad, and moved in with my parents.

    My monthly expenses:

    1) Skype = $7/mo

    2) Audible = $15/mo

    3) Netflix = $9/mo

    Later added:

    4) Tuts+ = $20/mo

    5) Spotify = $9/mo

    Imagine how easy it was to be profitable having an overhead of $31/mo. At first, they even paid for my food.

    My iPad didn’t have cell data like Lane’s did, just wifi, but that was part of the fun. People would ask, “How are people going to get ahold of you when your aren’t home?”

    I replied, “I’m not leaving my parents basement until I’m a millionaire.”

    Of course I would leave the house, but I would always meet people the old fashioned way. “Meet you at Starbucks at 9.” Or I would just show up at people’s houses. I was so much more present in my relationships not having a phone constantly going off, and I had very little distractions, made it easy to focus on work.

    If you guys have ever seen Goodfellas, I was kind of like Pauly. Everybody contacted me through my friends. It made my time seem more valuable.

    Every once in awhile I would lose people I was meeting, stop by the closest hotspot (Starbucks) and call them from my iPad. It probably only happened three times in the year and a half I didn’t have a phone.

    I have since upgraded to an iPhone 5s and a high rise apartment apartment in Austin, but it was a very transformational year and a half.

    I’ve never talked about this with the online community. I think I’ll expand this lengthy comment into a post on Medium soon. Like I said, Tim doesn’t usually condone quitting your day job because it’s risky. But he does condone doing things ass backwards from how everyone else is doing them.

  24. After drowning yet another smartphone by spilling a water bottle, I decided to go back to the age of dinosaurs and replaced it with a flip phone. Only calls and minimal texts, plus it’s cheap – like $15 bucks a month compared to $75+ for a data plan.

    Probably my favorite thing about not having a smartphone anymore is the little things I learn while I’m waiting. If I’m in a line, I talk to people – usually older, since they’re the only ones not refreshing eighteen times a minute.

    The only time I feel like I’m missing something is when I get caught out of town and forgot to save a map on my tablet. However, I feel like forcing my brain to not continually rely on GPS means I have a better sense of direction.

    Times when it irks me that others are on their phones:

    – While having a meal together (my ex used to spend half the meal checking ESPN scores for his imaginary league football team)

    – At concerts (I came to watch a live performance, preferably unobstructed by your cell phone. Plus, most people record in portrait orientation which is practically unwatchable due to widescreen)

  25. @Have you ever gone without phone or computer? If so, how did you manage it?

    For the past 12 months I have lived in Spain, just on a pre-paid phone, checking whatsapp, imessage and facebook messenger only at home. It made me more present and I felt that I engaged with people much more. Right before my final dinner (when I left Barcelona), I told everyone, to put their phones in the middle of the table and that the first one who would touch their phone, would be responsible for paying the bill :). I think a VC friend recommended this to me.

    The result: an awesome dinner, everybody was connected, engaged, talking, nobody felt left out.

    @If I would go 2-4 weeks without electronics here is what I would do:

    – I would let my friends know that I will not be available all the time and just text in internet cafes

    – for the 2-4 week trip, I also would bring a lot of books, so that in case I feel the urge to check my Facebook or text messages on someone else’s phone, I would instead focus on reading.

    – I would go somewhere sunny and try to learn a new skill (i.e. kitesurfing) in order to activate brain neurons and keep my mind present.


    I just got an iPhone yesterday and am curious as to how my habits will change. For now, I have all notifications turned off and I put the email app on the last screen of my desktop due to my lack in trust of my self-discipline.

    @Tim: could you share how you deal with your phone, i.e. how often do you check for updates, do you use notifications and what applications do you use?

    1. Nice tip on the dinner wager. I was watching a movie with some old friends last night and I look up and 4/7 of them were just gazing into their phones. Drives me nuts.

  26. I gave my Samsung Galaxy Note II to a friend in September and bought a prehistorical Nokia (I think it’s a 311 – it doesn’t even have Bluetooth) in spite of my family’s complaints because I’m living abroad and they want to WhatsApp me (my answer: “WhatsApp didn’t exist a few years ago and we were all perfectly fine”).

    I sometimes keep my phone off for days on end. Whenever _I_ want to contact people, _I_ turn it on and call them.

    As for spending 2-4 weeks without electronics, I don’t see the point. After all, electronics for me isn’t just Facebook and Twitter – it’s also learning Russian and reading about nutrition. But of course, there’s always some contact with the people in your life. I think 2-4 weeks without a computer or any other communication device (?) would be a great chance to practice loneliness. It looks like we don’t know how to be disconnected from the world, but we don’t know how to be really connected, either. Letting go for a while might teach us the value of it all when we come back.

  27. in October I completed 2 weeks phone less and Vaio less. Arriving in Cyprus for a short 1 month planned mini retirement, i had 2 missions.

    1# NO ONE! is to know im there except the friend getting me from the airport 2# 2 weeks no comms with people. then a select few will know im there for a good catch up.

    all went to plan, got into the airport, called my friend to confirm im out of the gates and the phone went away into my laptop bag. It was bliss, driving mountain ranges, seaside villages, dinner was an uninterrupted eating festival for 2 weeks, food tasted great, the conversation about anything but what happening online was a great relief.

    only downfall.. sleeping in way to much in the hotel.

    after 2 weeks of golden silence, i let my 3 next closest friend know of my whereabouts and we communicated by Viber/whatsapp ONLY when i was in a wifi zone. I did use a payphone once but thats about it.

    next travel i do im going to leave the laptop at home and just check emails upon my return.

    happy xmass and NYE to all.!

  28. My wife and I “Sabbath” (take a day off that’s different from all the others) once a week. We lock our phones in a pistol safe that is in our bedroom. The first few times we did it, there was a twitchy feeling when out and about in our pockets, feeling like we needed to keep checking in.

    After 2-3 weeks of doing this though, I realized that the world doesn’t really care that you’re gone. Your person-to-person talk improves, and you really DO feel more present. I now look forward to these days off.

  29. I put apps like Facebook and mail and anything else I compulsively checked on the 2nd page. I check them way less now, so I look at my phone way less too.

  30. Try one month without Internet. That`s real freedom. The first days are a pain. After a couple of days you will realize how much time you normaly waste on the Internet. You`ll suddenly have shitloads of time!

  31. The four hour work week was what have me the courage to not have a phone. When I told my friends I was getting rid of my phone and not replacing it, they said “but, what if there’s an emergency?”

    The four hour workweek reminded me that there really is no such things as emergencies. No lives were lost. No opportunities missed. Didn’t happen in a year and a half of not having a phone.

  32. I’ve gone a couple weeks without use of my electronics in foreign countries a couple of times. I just used Apple stores / internet cafes to check email and phone cards from landlines to call family back home. That was when I had a seperate camera (vs cell phone camera) with several SD cards (is that what they were called?) and didn’t have to upload pictures to a laptop every night. Of course, for my trip to Japan MANY years ago, I had an actual film camera and there were no internet cafes yet. 🙂 We wrote postcards and letters back home and carried our rolls of film home with us.

  33. I always turn my phone off on vacations. It has a powerswitch for a reason. This is something that allows me to better relax and enjoy each dollar I have invested in the vacation. If an emergency arises I can turn the phone back on. Not a big deal. I suggest everyone give this a try, get the most out of your vacation!

  34. Great idea for a post, but disappointing to learn that he still had an ipad mini with 4G, was texting, had internet and a camera, etc. Obviously these features were used less than if the iphone was still operational, but it seems like he was still pretty universally reachable, albeit with brief gaps due to no vibrate. That, and he was apparently embarrassed to use some features of his device in public due to the silent judgings of strangers he’d never see again.

    The iPad mini really is only one notch larger than some of the mondo smartphone/tablet permeations already out there, ie galaxy note []

    Still some decent takeaways though. What would be really interesting is if someone actually legitimately went several weeks in a major US city with ZERO tech communication.

    Last jab – “Societal entrepreneur” made me chuckle. Glossing up “social entreprenuer” — which is already a stretch — in a sort of hipster retro brooklyn sort of way. Like opening some small time storefront and calling yourself a “purveyor”. Less plaid and more results first.

    Tim, I like your show and think you’re doing a great job. Congrats on moving up to TruTV. Looking forward to the dating episode with Neil! Happy holidays and thanks for all the great content.

  35. Everyone’s obsession with their phones makes me wonder about their sanity. I have an old phone, bought in 2004, and I only turn it on if I am on the road on business or going into a store and want to call my wife to find out if she needs something. When I am at home I have a message on my cellphone directing callers to my home phone.

    Last month I went from Florida to Phoenix, where I stayed with a friend and commuted to dentist appointments about 300 miles away in Mexico. Two dentists, one near my home in Florida and one in Phoenix, gave me estimates of $6000 to put caps on my teeth, the dentist in Mexico did it, and better, for $800.

    I stayed in Phoenix for three weeks with my friend, until the caps were made, and enjoyed being away from the high-tech world. My friend does not have television, so there was no news, and I only turned my phone on once a day to check-in with my wife.

    My wife has an updated phone with all the “necessities” texting, voice mail, etc. Her phone often drives me crazy when at 2 a.m. some friend sends her a text and the noise of the phone wakes everyone up.

    I find absolutely no need to be tied to a cellphone 24 hours a day.

  36. Last year I spent two weeks in Paraguay and Brazil with a MacBook Pro and no phone. I did borrow an i-phone to photograph & record a vibrant New Year’s Eve celebration in Balneário Camboriú that I had sent to my laptop for forwarding to friends and family.

    I used google and Skype for calls, most of which were prearranged. I frequently use Skype for conference calls with cohorts in Asia; after hanging up one call, I realized no one noticed I was not in North America.

    The biggest adjustment was not responding immediately to messages (let’s face it there are days when our phones are used for everything BUT talking.) I also suffered through a round of TW (text-withdrawl.)

    My biggest challenge was inconsistent internet service but I feel that was more than compensated for by the minimization of “chatter” and the author’s appropriately named “MPU.”

    My work time was very productive: teamed with a Caipirinha I knocked out a full packet business plan in half the time I had budgeted. This has made me consider “unplugging” to do major projects (difficult to do this entirely if you have kids, a boss and other obligations. No matter how much we disengage, we can only do it for bursts.) Recently I have been fascinated with working on a cruise ship when you have a definitive project that needs to be completed and you need to dive in and power through it to completion ( talks about this.) I suspect that I am not the only one that has worked on projects where 72 hours with minimal distractions and a hearty dose of focus (not to mention prepared meals & a health club for breaks) would be hugely productive….arguably the equivalent of weeks in real world time.

  37. I’ve just started my Luddite experiment but with baby steps. Because of the nature of my life at the moment, I need a mobile phone to keep in touch with loved ones The first tech-narcotic to go for me however is Facebook. I realized that the app was little more than a voyeuristic habit that devoured precious time for me on this limited journey I have on earth. I accept that its social interaction aspect can provide great joy in people’s lives but I am merely speaking about my experiences. After several weeks of ignoring Facebook, I was curious to log in to see what I was missing. The verdict? I didn’t miss much. I was also surprised how liberating it was my Facebook hiatus. I permanent hiatus is now in the works.

  38. The way I’ve been doing it for about a year now (a lot of it is based on “4 hour principles”):

    -iPhone’s turned off whenever it’s in my pocket (4HB)

    -I usually put it on silent in a drawer when I get home, where I keep my keys and wallet

    -As a result, I respond to texts as slowly as I respond to emails (1x per day)

    -I log in to facebook maybe once every one or two weeks. Generally I don’t store login information on my phone. No push-notifications etc.

    The world doesn’t come to an end if you’re not always “available”.

  39. My kids are learning to put a pause in there speech when I look down at my iphone. My spouse can’t put his away during family dinner. I try to take a Sabbath rest from mine from Saturday night to Monday Morning and go through withdraws. The dead battery is the best way I have found to let go and let God.

  40. I obtained a flux capacitor and returned to 1965. Despite my best efforts, I had no cell reception, and even no wifi! The horror. The good news: there was some excellent music. The bad news: I wasn’t able to tag my location in any selfies so this won’t appear on my travel map. Totally worth it though! Science!

  41. Tim –

    I’ve gone without a phone for over a year now and it is fantastic. I use other’s phones when I really need to make a call and since everyone has one, it works perfectly. The other day I had a stranger text my wife to tell her where to meet me. It is a bit fun to ask people and I sometimes get some super weird looks.

  42. I have somehow mastered the art of doing away with the phone, i dont have a phone in my office, my iphone is in do not disturb most of the time.yes people do call and it is important to speak to ure biz partners, but it should be when u want to, not everytime.

    Phones are a tool to be used for our convenience , doesn’t make sense running to answer a call and losing ure peace of mind

    I dont have specific tactics i can think of but i think its all in e mind and ure approach towards it…

    Now i go days without any msg or call

    Also i dont receive any calls other than the ones i really want n have to.

  43. I’ve been living without a phone for the past four years now, and I doubt I will be going back anytime soon. Life is too good without one. All I need is the occasional wifi connection through my ipad and I’m good.

    I love looking at people’s reaction to this, and it gets even more amusing when I tell them I develop iOS apps.

    nice post Tim 😉

  44. I went a whole Uni semester abroad at Edinburgh, Scotland using my iPhone as a makeshift computer (keyboard, mouse, & monitor). Four months. No dedicated laptop and my entire life in the cloud. It was surprising. I always had my information wherever I needed it. It was digital. But no wifi? No info. I couldn’t use my iPhone as a computer AND as a phone. Dead phone. Dead computer. So I couldn’t text, take as many pictures, or blog as often as I liked. It was absolutely refreshing; but very isolating. It took twice as long to write, look up information, and schedule appointments with friends. Without a phone, you have something to go back to. Without a computer, you’re carrying technology with you everywhere, or in the cloud, praying nothing (Nothing) goes wrong.

  45. I couldn’t use my phone while on a 3 week cruise and it bothered me a little to be unable to send photos etc to family and friends unless we’d docked. Yes, it was a little weird but I’m not a “phone person” anyhow.

    I emphasize courtesy and don’t even bring out my phone if I’m with friends. It’s rude. I am aware of my phone in all situations, though, because I’m the caretaker for my 83-y-o mother, but being engaged in my life rather than in a piece of technology is important to me.

  46. I stopped carrying my phone around constantly around the time the 4 Hour Body came out and I read about Tim’s experiments with how it affected the swim team. I stopped carrying it around in my pants pockets and now the closest it gets to me is a jacket pocket. If I’m at home, it’s somewhere in a nearby room, but I’m never worrying about it. If I go out somewhere, it typically gets left in the car because I don’t like carrying it around in my hands; if it’s winter time, I’ll put it in a coat pocket, but during summer I’m even harder to reach.

    It probably also helps that I have a “dumb” phone that doesn’t do the internet or things like apps, so there’s no temptation to constantly check things like that. It has a keyboard for faster text messages, and that’s about it. If you want a good way to start looking at your phone less, I would recommend getting a phone that doesn’t do all those additional features like internet and apps. My friends know that I rarely respond to text messages, and there’s also a decent chance I’ll miss calls, but it’s rarely an issue. Most days it’s close enough that I can hear it ring, but like I mentioned above, there’s just no compulsion in me to always check it.

    I have to agree with the stuff in the post about how annoying it is when other people are constantly on their phones. Once you’re not, it’s really easy to notice and a personal pet peeve of mine. My last girlfriend (this isn’t the reason we broke up!) would pull it out at dinner and send messages and what not to people while I kind of sat and stared. When confronted, she would always say about how the messages were important, or that she just needed to respond right away, but it always just led to more messages and more time spent looking at a phone instead of interacting with the person right across the table from you.

    It’s kind of amazing how a phone can inflate mundane, every day conversations or tasks into huge, important endeavors where people place value on looking at a phone over interacting with the people around them. I guess I could keep rambling and telling anecdotes about people and their phone obsessions, but I’m sure there’s plenty of readers on this blog who’ve noticed this all themselves anyway. Thanks for the post and hopefully it gets a few more people to try this and see the light.

  47. Fantastic article. We’re currently on a 3 month trip through SE Asia, and until yesterday when I finally splurged on a local SIM card, I’ve been using only wifi at our guesthouses when we are there. So I guess about halfway to what you are talking about!

    As you say, it couldn’t be more freeing walking around everywhere knowing the day will be interruption free!

  48. Hi, I have my voicemail forwarded to email and I set phone to ‘do not disturb’ mode so only closest family can call me, but I’m unable to leave phone at home because I’m afraid that if something bad happens (like family member accident), I wouldn’t be reachable and could not help. And mostly because of that, my friends – I am carrying my phone with me everywhere. As for playing with phone on dinner, I don’t need to uninstall apps and turn data services off, I just don’t play with phone during dinner. That is just as simple as that. If someone has an idea how not to use phone but still be reachable in extreme cases – I’ll be glad to read that.

  49. Great article. I love it. We are so addicted to these little devices. I recommend that everyone spend a month in the wilderness without any devices. You will see the world in a whole new way.

  50. There could be an timelock app in this conversation , or maybe there is already? Or even a not always on social network.

  51. As much as I love to use technology -(I’m attempting to build a business using it,) I come from an age where we didn’t have to be continuously switched on and connected.

    I’ve travelled the world with my children in their early teens and at the very heart of the journey was the desire to disconnect from society and switch back to being simply by ourselves.

    As much as its great to make new friends around the world (I’ve always loved having a penpal) It’s important to take time and once again to ‘simply’ be alone.

    Enjoy the peace it provides – without a ping or a tweet, a stumble, tumble or like. You never know. You might even enjoy it!

  52. One week of my summer holiday was spent on an estate in France doing Kundalini Yoga. Along with 2500 other yogis and yoginis. Much to my surprise – which it shouldn’t have been, honestly – the network couldn’t handle the demand. Initially I felt annoyed for not being available. In hindsight, it was the best gift of the week. The yoga and meditations surely benefitted!!

  53. After seeing the title of this article, I was really hoping for insight into a tech-free (or tech-reduced) life. I would have been interested to read an article about someone who had gone completely without a portable device but switching from a phone to a tablet with wifi capabilities is really here nor there in my opinion.

  54. I started to use my phone less by switching from iPhone 5 to Samsung Galaxy Note 3. While it is a great device (note taking with stylus is critical feature for me), it is so big and relatevely hard to handle with one hand. That makes me only put it out from my bag (too big for pocket) only when neccessary.

    Funny yet effective.

  55. My iphone was once stolen on a friday night in Barcelona. I loved the five days that followed without it.

    You should simply League the phone at home or set predetermined schedules for checking emails etc.

  56. Great topic!!

    I have been living without my iPhone since september 12, 2012.

    After 4 years of planning my wife and I along with our 3 boys left the comforts of Florida for 2 years abroad in Northern Spain. I am not a single guy with no strings.

    As a small business owner with 20 employees in Florida I live in Spain without a car, iPhone or watch and at the same time have a wife and 3 kids so in theory you would think I need a cell phone. Not true!

    Living this way is great and free, my wife and I have very specific plans and a plan B for meeting places and times.

    For the record i have 1 call per week to my home office via Skype and I check email daily via my iPad in my apartment.

    Positives-no longer addicted to texting and calling, enjoying my wife and children when I am with them walking, biking or at a restaurant. I also enjoy the trees, smells of the city, looking up, the breezes and the little things you notice when not texting and or talking all the time.

    Negatives-last minute changes in our plans or emergencies.

    98% positive experience

    2% negative.

    Thinking about not carrying a cell when I return to the US later this summer.

    Happy 3 kings day from España!


  57. I have been phoneless for about 3 years now. Reason: I started to get annoyed with myself. During a great dinner with my wife, in which we had lots of fun, I realized I checked my email at least 3 times to can for mails that could wait till the next day without any problem at all – like all mails.

    From that moment on, I started to leave my phone at home more and more, until I didn’t bring it at all anymore. It sort of just happened, I suddenly realized I never brought it anymore. Simple as that.

    What a difference! Life is so much better!!… You have: less stress, more time, more attention to friends and the world around you.

    What it also does, is make you plan better, giving you more control and more time.

    I have exactly like you say, grown pretty irritated at my friends when they have their phone out for absolutely no reason. I don’t show or tell them, but I do find it very irritating when people keep pulling out their phone for useless checkups.

    The argument I hear most from people as why they “could never live without a phone” is .. what happens if somebody wants to work with me? Book me? Etc.

    I tell them: If they want you, they will call again when you are at the office or at home, or they will email you.

    On my voicemail, I say I do not listen to voicemails and in case they need me they should email me at …. this works great. I don’t even turn on my phone at home anymore and don’t have a landline.

    Now however, I have a 9 months old son… and I want to be able to call home when needed. But I didn’t want my “phone back in my life”. The perfect solution: Flight Mode. My phone is ALWAYS on flight mode, except for when I need to call home or when I really need to call somebody, usually when I’m traveling.

  58. My solution (will be too extreme for many) to truly switch off, has for many years been to holiday in places with no international roaming agreements with my home country (Australia) – 2 weeks in Iran, 10 days in North Korea, a week camping in the Sahara, a long weekend in Cuba. No coverage, no choice, no worries, no stress – I love it!

  59. Timely post. I’m a musician/freelancer and recently lost my phone that between my house and a friend’s car. I didn’t cancel it or renew it as it must have been close by. So I spend three weeks kinda waiting for it. After the anxiety of the first week, I realised I wanted to go phone free until I was was comfortable with the idea of not having one. (Tim, I was thinking of your Seneca lessons). After two week I didn’t want it back. I was happy without it, until my friend found it under the seat of her car and returned it… complete with 58 voicemails. Good luck with the messages when you get your phone back Lane : )

  60. I’m typing this on my iPhone!…

    I’ve found it hard sometimes to not check investments or how my site looks on my mobile (I’m adding responsive design to my WP theme). I also read too many blogs and they don’t really add value to my life.

    So I’m starting to do something useful every day and not to worry about the noise.

  61. I did a year and a half without a computer.

    I used to be a classic “internet addict”. Slovenly hopping into my computer when no obvious substitute activity presented itself, I was able to browse for 2 – 3 hours at a time without realising that I was hungry or tired, or even that I desperately needed the bathroom that was only steps away. “Early nights” just weren’t a thing for me.

    Back from the second half of my 3rd year of university, and then for all of my 4th year I decided that rather than a painful and ineffective “withdrawal” plan, I would just leave the thing with my parents. I had a blackberry that I could send text emails on, and when I desperately needed to use a computer, I could go into college. Also, I was able to do college work on paper, which helped.


    – Almost immediately got the hottest girlfriend of my life to date

    – Read 1 – 2 books a month. Became much more self-aware and in-the-present

    – Put myself into the best physical shape in my life – ended up running 2 marathons in two days

    – Ran a college football club

    – Started a University-wide club to coach football to 1st year students without any formal training

    Take-aways for me:

    – Don’t try to change things with will-power. Take big, meaningful actions.

    – The world does not implode when you make big changes in your life.

    – Think of your laptop as a tool for getting planned actions done, not an “activity”. Maybe other people will disagree, but I find the mindless usage described in the article adds the least to my day.

  62. Ditched my smart phone about a year ago. Now I carry a small, thin, light dumb phone. Get this, I use my cell phone to make telephone calls. Really. I like talk to people on the phone. I have cell intercourse when I choose to, not when someone else chooses to. I instigate my phone contact. I don’t just take it from anyone who wants to give it to me at their leisure. When I’m not expecting a call I turn it off. It’s an emergency device or a device purely of my convenience. I don’t give out the number and when people get a call from me I advice them that I don’t answer at this number and give them my Skype number instead. I use Skype to my laptop like a land line. The cell is for my convenience. I don’t text (receive or send), take pictures, surf the net, etc. from my phone. I use my phone for voice comm.. When it’s convenient for me. About a year now and I’m more pleased with my decision than when I first made it. And I pay about $10 a month for cell service. The phone cost me about about ten bucks when I bought it. Oh, and that mysterious back pain went away as soon as I got the cell companies out of my ass and stopped bending over for them.

  63. Over three years without a land line phone.

    Four or more years of only having a cell for emergency calls out It’s an ancient Motorola and lives in a drawer not my trousers.

    E-mail checked once a day if I remember and I a, usimh windows more often than not it’s Linux Mint these days and I purposely haven’t activated Thunderbird in Mint.

    No Skype, IM, Twitter or G+.

    Laptop is a used Dell XPS M1330 and the back up is a Asus eeepc.

    I have even taken to walking away when someone is talking with me face to face and then chooses instead to look at their cell or answer a text or a call. I get it the phone is more important at that moment than the human being they are talking to so fine I choose to leave.

    What they will of the sun chooses to bless this world with an EM pulse that takes down the electronic world totally or even just partially is anyone’s guess.

  64. Love this article, will be sharing it a lot. I’m the type to quietly and simply get up and leave if someone pulls out their phone (for non-necessities) while with me. Trading in one’s humanity for the chance to stare at a glowing rectangle is appalling.

  65. Hi Tim!

    If you are standing in a line waiting to pay for a purchase, or on a bus, a subway or a plane and look around, you will see most people on a phone. We are a society absorbed by cell phones and other technology. I think the issue is not whether to have or not have a phone. It’s really about using it more appropriately. I believe we need more “high touch” today and less “high tech”. What if we focused more on people and less on the cell phones or I Pads? I am afraid with all the technological advances we will become more dependent on cell phones and such things not less, to the detriment of our relationships. To me, that’s a sad state of affairs. Happy holidays and take care.



    [Moderator: link removed]

  66. Nice article. I gave up phone use after getting laid off a few years back. Iade calls sparingly from my laptop using Google Voice. My ego tried to convince myself that I was being superior to my old self because I was “in the moment” without a distraction of a cell phone.

    In conclusion, it was a good experiment, but I feel my life is richer, more interesting, and more communicative with my phone. Technology like smartphones are a true gift to mankind. I unashamedly LOVE my phone 🙂


    Tom Mitchell

    New Orleans, LA

  67. Isn’t it amazing how difficult the “simple” life is?

    Lesson #4 is the one that get’s me all riled up. I remember taking my 15 year old sister’s phone. After an hour she got so mad she started to break stuff!

    I got tired of reaching for my phone – so I also turned everything off for a month – except I chose to have NO interaction with technology at all. (With the exception of a small handheld video camera. I figured I was going to go crazy and it might be entertaining to capture it all!)

    I started a blog called “30 Days Unplugged” that has a bunch of the videos I shot. If you’re really interested, you can just google it and you should be able to find it.

    I think we’re at a breaking point – all this “technology” that is supposed to make our lives easier, yet stress and overwhelm seems to be at all time highs. Personally – it feels like we’re slowly becoming slaves to the tools that we supposed to free us!

  68. For the past year plus I have put my phone into a “phone calls only” notification mode where the ONLY noise my phone makes is for an actual phone call. [NO vibrations whatsoever–which eat the battery by the way].

    With everyone increasingly moving to email or text messages for communication my reply or review of electronic messages can wait UNTIL I’M READY to review them. If I’m actively looking for a reply, then I check my device 3-4 times an hour. If I’m not, then it can be every few hours I look at it, clear out messages and emails, and go on about my business.

    Anyone who really needs to reach me “immediately” knows to call me, I hear the ring and I can determine if I take the call then or return it later. I would highly recommend it to all.

  69. After I read this article, I wanted to stand up, pump my fist, and shout, “Testify, brother!”

    In the olden days, I used to be tied to one of those antique devices called “pagers” (some of you other old-timers may remember them). I wore one when I worked in the IT support trenches of the pre-Internet era, and I regarded it as a shackle, like one of those cuffs you have to wear when you’re under house arrest.

    Unstructured personal time is a treasure beyond price. And pagers, cell phones, and now smart phones chip away at that limited, unrecoverable resource. It’s sad when we let them.

    Small wonder that I’ve never really bought in to the whole smart phone thing, to the continual disbelief (and occasional scorn) of my friends and co-workers. Yes, I have a cell phone, but I use to make calls, or when I need to be contacted in an emergency. It’s all about setting and enforcing, limits.

  70. Hi Tim,

    This is off topic, but I have to recommend a book I’ve been reading Lately and I know you’re gonna be super interested in.

    It’s called Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners by Michael Erard, and it’s basically The Game or Moonwalking With Einstein but for hyperpolyglots!

    Check it out and thank me later ????


    p.s. It has some original discoveries about Cardinal Mezzofanti in it!!

  71. For one week every year, I don’t use any media, be it computers, phones, TV. I do this in a normal working and study week. The first time I did it, it was for an article in the magazine of the Communication Sciences faculty at a major European university. This was so productive and refreshing, I made it a yearly habit.

  72. I live off grid with no alternative power yet for the last year and a half. I’m only able to charge my phone and computer in the car.

    To use the internet I have to deliberately drive into town and either go eat or hang out at the library. I write down all the things I want/need to look up through out the day, so I know what I’m looking for instead of idly surfing the net.

  73. I disconnected for 24 hours last weekend for the first time and it felt fantastic. I plan to do that a lot more. I wonder, will humanity reject the invasion of our lives by tech, like a splinter being purged from one’s body?

  74. I don’t use facebook or twitter at all on my phone anymore and I also don’t have data on my phone. Once I limited the amount of time I spent on my phone, I was able to gain a sense of peace and clarity. It actually bugs me now when I notice people always stuck in their phones.

  75. Yes it is great idea.

    I got similar experiments a couple weeks ago. As my job at work required many calls in time, I used to literally stick to my smartphone. Then I coined a plan that I informed my callers to contact me via traditional phone and email if urgent matters. It turned out worked well. One more thing I found was that there were no emergence call. The moment the emergency occurred somebody next me let me know by his words.

    I think it is worth doing for better life.

  76. I regularly turn off phone for several hours, sometimes most of the day

    I admit I turn it on and check to see any important messages or who wants me

    But I just find I need to be tuned out for sanity and peace

    I’ll get back to you at some point when it works for me

    I need the down time, I feel more peace when phone is off

    It’s like a mini, mini vacation for my mind. A timeout from our hectic world ,which is moving a bit fast Theese days

    People have lost the art of good uninterrupted conversation and that’s too bad

  77. This is pretty similar to how I run my life with my phone. Hardly check twitter, almost never check emails. Receive maximum of 1 phone call per day. The phone is really only for receiving calls from very close friends, recording quick notes and tasks so I don’t forget, syncing my calendar (very useful for this) almost never for business calls (almost all are on Skype).

  78. Hey Tim, Hey Lane,

    thank you for sharing this experience!

    I turned off any notifications on my iPhone a few weeks ago and I love it! No messages on home screen, loading mails 2 times per day (hack from 4hww) and not checking FB/Twitter made life way easier. The iPhone became the tool it used to be, not a distraction from the real work.

    Best regards,


  79. I have an old Samsung x105, no camera, no social media and very easy to pocket on the rare occasions I carry it. It usually rests in the back of my motorcycle ready for a roadside emergency, and I may not check it for weeks. If I need to be contactable for family I stuff it in my pocket but I find most ’emergencies’ can wait until I get home.

  80. Good to see an article on this. We’ve damaged the way we carry out our lives and our work by reacting to what others are pushing at us instead of choosing how we plan our day and spend our time. I find that email and the way Outlook works have exactly the same consequences as the mobile phone phenomenon described. I plan my work and only then let the constant stream of requests for meetings and information fill the time that’s left (after, of course, leaving the empty square of time that makes the puzzle of life work – thanks Carl Honore). The phone is in my bag during meetings and is always on total silence. Notifications are all switched off – so I choose when to look at it. And people are getting used to this and the fact that their poor planning isn’t my latest crisis.

  81. This past summer I worked a seasonal job in a remote area of Alaska. For two months I labored (slaved) in a salmon processing plant for 16 hours a day. Needless to say, phones were not allowed to be used while working, much less was it even possible when you’re covered in rain gear and thick gloves while handling thousands of pounds of slippery fish. Anyways, the long hours and very, very spotty cell phone reception meant that my communications were very, very infrequent and only with a few close persons. I did not use Facebook during this time and even avoided Facebook for over a month after returning home. The low information diet that this provided opened my mind to focus on creativity and concentrating on my future. Instead of my mind being distracted by someone’s kid’s school award or posts of every freakin’ meal someone eats during the day or dumb (but often cute) closeups of pet dogs or cats, I was free to broaden my mind and I felt so free at the same time. Free of the clutter in my head.

  82. I have phone yet I am trying to get rid of it. Having phone is a great tool unfortunately the people I converse ruin it. They treat it as a long leash. I loathe control and value my freedom. They also overload my cognition with useless messages. I treasure my mental energy and have limited space for productive activity. I am saddened if I want to get their attention and I have to text and let them know I am in front of them.

    It is challenging to “train” people in how they can communicate me minimally, meaningful, and momentarily.

    People are starting to get used to know I don’t check my phone instantly and slowly they are adapting to how to work with me.

    It is always good day when I am in non-coverage zone or my phone battery has drained or best of all it actually died.

  83. If I am on vacations, then for a moment I can think of spending at most 2 days without my phone or computer, but third day I will start missing something in my life and will get back to what I was doing. 🙂

  84. Only a techie form San Francisco would think using a 4G enabled iPad mini for a month would be tough. Good insights, but far from a hardship. I recently ditched my Galaxy s3 for a $10 Tracfone. Best decision I ever made financially and mentally.

  85. I almost went without a phone for about 6 months. Ok, so I still had the phone, but I couldn’t use it much. I was on a $12 pre-paid plan with 250 min / 250 txt / 10MB. Mobile data was always turned off.

    I also work in an environment where I can’t take my phone into certain areas so I was already in the habit of leaving it at my desk.

    It was liberating. Now I’m still on a pre-paid plan, but it has 250mb of data. Its hard to deny the convenience of it at times, and I do like having a pocket computer (in this case, a Nexus 4), but I do like to think back to the spartan times to remind myself that I got along just fine without it before.

  86. I really have to try this. I’m addicted to my phone and computer. Whenever I go somewhere I do a phone/comp, keys, wallet check. It’s hard to imagine life without them.

  87. Great article!

    Believe it or not, one of the most meaningful things I read about technological existentialism came from an unlikely source.

    Miley Cyrus.

    No, really.

    A few years ago when she was still slightly likeable, she said that she was going to cut down on her social media because she noticed that something odd was happening. She would do something, go out with friends, go to an event, whatever…………….and take a bunch of pictures for the sole purpose of posting on her twitter and facebook. She realized that her life was starting to become devoted to maintaining her online life, not living in the moment.

    I was dumbfounded. How many of us are literally catering our lives to our online personas?

    Dr. Rob

  88. Great post, Lane! In June 2013 I completely dropped my mobile carrier (Fido, in Canada) and have gone 100% WiFi with a VoIP app called Fongo on my iPhone 4S. Fongo provides a local number, voice mail services, and insanely affordable calling rates. Gone are my days of $100 phone bills. I’m now averaging $2-$7/month by using my phone in WiFi zones.

    It was destabilizing at first, as I am an independent worker (yoga teacher), but I trusted that those who really wanted to work with me would wait for my response before moving on to another. I seem to be right — the past 6 months have been my most lucrative in the 8 years I’ve been teaching!

    It was also destabilizing for my partner and business partner, however, all of our communications are now more purposeful as we have to be more thorough since I am not always reachable.

    Finally, I feel liberated from social media! Instead of posting incessantly to Twitter and Instagram, I post higher quality media!

    I highly recommend this to everyone!

  89. Impressive! I once went two and a half weeks without my phone while I was in Africa, but I doubt I could do it in a major US city like that.

  90. I like this question.

    We already know what doesn’t work.

    This is what I’ve found to work:

    1. Checking phone calls and email at scheduled times of the day.

    This works best first determining when the majority of requests come in. Mine ar 8-9am, 11 so I can catch people before lunch and 3pm. If I was uber busy, this would be when I could reasonably be expected to return their call anyways.

    2. Get an assistant and start quitting things. If you remove yourself as the information bottleneck, you will get less calls and less disruptions. When I first did this, yes, I did feel less important and created a little chaos to help me deal, but this went away after a month. Today I rarely get calls, and when I do, it’s irritating as I’m usually in the middle of thinking about something important.

    3. Combine all this and you can easily forget your phone in random places and not notice it for half a day. My phone is scheduled to go on Do Not Disturb at 8pm until 7am, and most all notifications are turned off. The point is, things should run better because your not there- and not have people depend on your response.

    You need to train people not to depend on you for emergencies WHILE having systems in place to handle them. Write procedures, have an assistant or pay someone an extra dollar an hour to handle emergencies when they come up. There are a million ways to not have a phone, but you need to get away from your phone long enough to be able to think one through.

    And yes, a lot of this comes from Tim’s book. He already thought a lot of this stuff through.

  91. And one more thing worth adding.

    I bought all of my managers phones so they could be there to answer and deal with issues. They have access to the same information I do when dealing with them. This one takes trust but is well worth the expense.