What I learned in 3 months about living without a smartphone
- for my (not so Dutch) friends, a translated blog -
Last September (2022), I got rid of my iphone and switched to a dumbphone.
It wasn’t some impulsive decision. I was already using an ancient iphone (SE from 2016), which could no longer be updated. And because of that and limited storage and outdated OS, I had already been removing music, photos and apps for more than a year.
Now, almost 3 months after I switched from iphone to nokia, I am used to a new way of doing things.
Are you curious about my experiences? I've listed them for you:
1. I hated it
Honestly, I really hated the first week(s) when my iphone was gone. No more cute apps, no more funny smileys, no more thumbs-up. No more pictures in the family app or updates on outings in friends' apps. No more being able to check the latest updates on social media during the day.
Indeed, I felt alone. I felt stupid. Multiple times a day I looked at the nokia in my hand.... which was utterly silent and doing nothing. Why the h... did I do this? Certainly, the first week was no fun. And it took me several weeks to get used to it.
2. I became bored more often
Normally when I took a break, I would also go on my phone. Checking messages - checking social media. But there's no more of that.
Now I just sit on the couch or at the table and have nothing to do. At first, I found that SOOOO dull. And even irritating. At this point, I could clearly well notice my "addiction" to my smartphone. Even though I was sure I didn't have an addiction, as I already had a very conscious year of dropping apps.
3. I have more time
All the time I used to spend on my phone is now extra time that is 'empty'. Time that is not filled. And those are always just some minutes here and there. But in the experience, it feels like having a great deal of extra time. There is less information flow, less noise, less misunderstandings. And that gives me a sense of space. Which feels good.
4. My rhythm feels more calm
Because I no longer expose myself so much to the continuous flow of information, my days feel calmer. And that makes my weeks feel more relaxed and more balanced. I experience less speed and less hurry.
5. I live more mindfully
The short and longer breaks during my day now have a better quality. During my breaks I rest more fully, which gives me more energy throughout the day. And I also notice that my concentration improves. I am more focused, both during my breaks and also in my actions, work and moments of connection.
6. I receive fewer messages and fewer calls
That's a funny correlation. Ofcoursse I am receiving significantly less messages having only sms and no more Whatsapp, Signal, Telegram. But I also receive fewer calls. I suspect because I am less easily accessible, people also call me less. I didn't expect that one, but I guess I am literally less 'on the radar' of the people around me.
7. For communication, I must make more of an effort
If I want to reach someone, I must put in more effort. Communication overhere mainly goes through Whatsapp. Many people don't check their regular Message app for an sms (text message). And some people don't appear to look in their mailbox very often either. If I want to reach someone, I usually have to make a few phone calls in order to connect.
8. For communication, the other person has to make more of an effort
The other person also has to make more effort to reach me. A quick text in Whatsapp "Hey how are you?" is no longer an option. Sms or calls that I receive are generally very specific. They are practical or with a purpose or goal. And catching up can also be the goal, but then time is made for that. So that too, is done more mindfully.
9. Learning about other ways of two-factor authentication
A number of programs I use for clients require two-factor authentication when logging in. Now that I no longer have a qr-app to scan the code, I have to find other ways to do that. The great thing is there always turns out to be an alternative. For example, I've found that my password manager (1Password) allows me to handle many of these things just fine.
10. I am getting to know the local roads even better
Now that I no longer have a navigation app (I used to use GoogleMaps), I prepare much better when I am going somewhere. I look more closely in advance at how to drive and the road conditions. And because of that I am more focussed on the route during driving. I pay more attention.
I notice that by now, I have a much better idea of the various local roads, the roads between the villages in the area. It is becoming easier for me to figure out how to get from one place to another, even if I want to avoid the highway, because I generally know how the roads come together. Fortunately, for trips with more distance and an unknown address, I still have a very old plug-and-play navigation device I can use (tomtom).
11. I make my payments with more awareness
My bank-app also had to go, so I have been making my payments differently. Now I can no longer pay with my phone or send payment-requests through whatsapp (which is a big thing here in the Netherlands).
Therefore, I make all my payments in cash, by (pin)card or online at home on my laptop. At first, this was annoying too, because it just all makes it more inconvenient. But now that I am used to it, I notice that I am much more aware of my overall financial situation. I make clearer financial decisions. And buying impulsively happens less.
12. Playing music is different
Now that I no longer stream my music through my phone (usually in the car), I listen to the radio again. So I am listening to different styles of music, than if I would choose playlists myself. But that is actually nice. And if I do want playlists in my car, I prepare them on my laptop. I still have quite a bit of music locally stored on my laptop. I create playlists, synchronize them to an old ipod (the first ones, the small squares ones, do you remember them?) and use a cable in my car to listen to them.
13. More face to face and more of a social life
Now that I can't message back and forth as effortlessly and communication becomes a little more challenging.... I notice that I am becoming more engaged and thoughtful in discussing things when meeting with people. As a result, I have more brief catch-ups on the street or in stores when bumping into people. More often, I invite friends or colleagues for walks, go out more and have more dinners. So absolutely no social poverty here. Rather more social wealth.
Overall, the experiment "from smartphone to dumbphone" was successful. In short, life is possible without having a smartphone :) Some things are definitely more challenging, doing things takes a bit more time. I need to prepare better. But all of it is more mindful and actually more at ease.
It was a big switch at first, but for now, I will continue like this. I feel more in charge of my life and less dependent. And the unexpected bonus, I find myself being much more creative and active in making my offline life cozy and nice :) Let's see if I can do 1 year.
I am so curious about how you feel about your smartphone. And if you would want to give it a different 'place' in your life? Feel free to let me know. Comment below or leave a message at the Contact page.
Update Sept 14th 2023: It has been one year now without a smartphone. And I've had my moments of really missing it to connect. But that is all, just some moments. My life has changed in a deeper way. And I like it. I find it liberating. I notice more and more how my loved ones are so busy with their phone. They find it hard to not constantly check messages, reminders or likes... or to check weather forecast, trafic jams, their calender... They need their phone for all kinds of things.
After a year now I am really free of that dependency and I know that for everything I want to do, I always find a way. So I am very happy living without a smartphone.
My friend Carina has lived without a phone for 15 years and I love the way
she explains her experiences in her blog here, take a look!
Much love, Nicole