What I Learnt Going Phone-Less For Two Weeks By Lucy Hird/ Ms Motivator
Lucy Hird is a 31-year-old foodie PR Account Director working and living in London. She also blogs as Ms Motivator about mental wellbeing, fitness and nutrition, and shares #Inspo on Instagram @msmotivatorme. She’s also a close friend of mine and it’s a joy to welcome her to the blog to share her experience of going phone-less!
I HAD NO PHONE FOR TWO WEEKS AND THIS IS WHAT I LEARNT…
I got a FAB new upgrade last September and thought it was a good idea to take it immediately out raving with me (to shoot beautiful pictures) … and OF COURSE it fell out of my sister’s bag (the fact it was my sister is irrelevant to the story but may as well make her feel a bit guilty)…
The next day I realised I hadn’t updated my phone insurance yet (there’s a lesson there too kids), and ended up having to BUY the same model as my OLD PHONE to replace the lost one! I don’t have a great track record with phones as it is with a total of over 20 phones now lost, stolen or broken over the years.
So, the (old) new one was doing okay-ish, before two weeks ago, it decided to KO. (Okay okay, I maaaay have dropped it a few times) but either way it was KAPUT.
Once again, I found myself phone-less. Yes, I realise I should be more careful, sort my insurance out, etc. etc. but if I was super-duper organised like that, I wouldn’t be me.
I put a call out to the social and work world with, ‘Does ANYONE have an old phone knocking around I could have/buy?’ and luckily my amazing work wife came up trumps. However, with one thing and another (getting it unlocked etc) I ended up surviving a WHOLE TWO WEEKS without a phone.
This is what I learnt!
You don’t needto have music/noise 24/7.
My headphones are like armour to me. It means randoms can’t just talk to me for no reason, charity workers can’t attract my attention (I have my charities covered already, don’t worry), and it keeps me in a little world of my own on my commute. Plus, they keep my ears warm.
Weirdly, even without the phone I kept putting them in… which is fine until someone notices they’re unplugged then you feel a bit, ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’.
When I went headphone and phone-less though, I started looking up and around more when I was walking. I began people-watching on the tube… and weirdly I found myself humming old songs I’d totally forgotten about.
Like hymns… “Autumn days when the grass is jewelled and the silk inside the chestnut shell” (classic). My thoughts seemed more random and less stressful too (as I wasn’t checking work emails/Facebook/What’s App all the time) and I felt almost childlike again. It was almost meditative. It’s hard to describe it, but I was always thinking and questioning things around me in that blissful childlike-wonder-type-of-way. It was a calming and reassuring way to live.
Lesson learned: Observance.
If people want you, they will find a way to contact you
Like most people, I use What’s App constantly. I’m in groups for my pod at work (Pod Life), in others with my childhood friends, for raving, ones with old colleagues, family – the list is endless, as I’m sure it is for everyone. So, my sudden disappearance raised flags to certain friends and family.
When I lose my phone I usually put a status up on Facebook as it saves a lot of confusion but this time, I was straight off to Glasgow with pals so didn’t really think about it. Maybe it was a subconscious test? (Or more likely I didn’t want people to see that another phone had bitten the dust).
It was actually liberating not having the phone in Glasgow, there we were, a bunch of friends simply laughing the whole time. No need to update anyone. I like Facebook as a channel for sharing pictures after an event or for a pre-flight check-in at Wetherspoons (who doesn’t), but I’m not one to document everything I do. After 4/5 days of this digi-detox, I started receiving emails and messages through my boyfriend, as well as Facebook chat off people who really wanted to get in touch for a REASON. Not just day-to-day chatter and updates.
Don’t get me wrong, I love random and surreal banter in various chat groups but it was nice messaging because it was a necessity, or because someone had genuinely missed my presence rather than constant digital noise.
I think if this was long-term I would need to schedule over-the-phone chats with my besties or put my time online into a schedule. My boyfriend and I have a strict rule about our phones – no scrolling, messaging, or calling unless it’s work/family/logistics-related when we are spending time together and it saves a lot of arguments.
Lesson learned: Tone down the constant chatter/updates.
You have to be where you say you’ll be, at the time you said you would be.
This always reminds me of being about 12 years-old when we would always meet at 1pm outside Woolworths on the high street in Malvern on a Saturday. It was our big weekend high, where we would smoke cigarettes stolen from siblings, feel sick, then settle on some pick ‘n’ mix instead.
Back in 1997, if the person I was meeting didn’t arrive by say 1.20pm, you would use a pay phone and a BT charge card (NEVER REVERSE CHARGE! My poor dad would hit the roof!) and have to check whether they had left. Then wait again. With no phone to keep you entertained during said-waiting (see back to point one for the positives to this!)
There is no way you can send a, “running late bbz” after 2 mins. You had to have patience.
Last week I was meeting a friend for a bungee jump in Bristol (as you do), and she was like, ‘WHERE!!! WHEN!! HOW?!!!’ My train was late but I just stood in the foyer and what do you know, we found oneanother. CRISIS AVERTED.
Lesson learned: Patience.
You really have to know where you’re going, or be prepared to ask
I sometimes travel for work, especially to the North of England so, spend a lot of time in random northern cities (from Rotherham to Bolton and beyond!). What I learnt on work travel sans phone is that you have to plan ahead. You need to check Google maps, sometimes even PRINTING OUT DIRECTIONS or have a load of cash ready for taxis. The good thing about northern towns is friendly taxi drivers (from my experience).
However, often getting lost is where you have all the fun. Hartlepool has a gorgeous Marina for example I wouldn’t have seen had I not had a phone, and when I lose my way running around London, I spot the best restaurants and the most beautiful architecture.
I made sure I left ample time on my travels to get to places in case of any upset and had a back-up plan if there were any issues but I think if I was going away on a city break, I would just go for it and walk around. There is always someone to ask, or a sign-post or map. Give it a try!
Lessons learned: Preparation… and whimsy.
A written calendar is a NECCESITY!
So the massive downside to this digital-free enlightenment was missing a baby scan, two birthdays and a pregnancy announcement (sorry everyone, I will make it up to you). I think I actually kind of started switching off to the world, a bit like you do when you’re on holiday. It was lovely. Not that I don’t absolutely adore everyone in my life but I do have (like most people), a lot of people in my life – who need tending to, love, and that takes up a lot of energy truth be told. By saying ‘no’ to everyone (because I was cut off, not a verbal ‘no’), I was actually saying ‘yes’ to myself. And who better to say yes to?
Lessons learned: Be a bit selfish.
Finally… you don’t ‘need’ a phone
From reading a book, to enjoying more face-to-face time (no not Facetime) there were so many amazing things about not having a phone. When you look around a bar and see people snapping away, or ignoring the person next to them, trying to choose the best hashtag, they’re actually missing out on living in the moment. From BEING in THAT moment.
I know that videos of hippos, memes about bants and scrolling through enviable pictures of your skinny colleague on holiday are tempting, and enjoyable but I also know that taking a break from that would give you a bit more clarity about how much time you’re spending on it, and what else you could do with that time.
If you’re a phone-native then you’ve only ever known your life through a lens, a filter or channel and there’s more to life I promise. My advice is throw the phone in your drawer for a week and see how you feel.
Go ask your friend to meet you outside a shop and hope they turn-up.