How to Ditch Your Cell Phone
March 13, 2019 10:00 AM EST | 7 min read
Do you love your cell phone?
I bet you wake up in the morning and immediately check your cell phone for messages.
You then move on to checking Facebook, the morning news, and then your calendar for the day.
While driving to work, you dangerously fire off quick emails.
After you arrive at the office, you begin responding to an avalanche of text messages, social media messages, emails, Gchats, and phone calls all day long.
It does not stop there.
You surf the web while watching TV at night.
You clean your email inbox at bedtime and schedule your phone’s alarm to wake you in the morning.
Your cell phone does not leave your side all day long.
It wakes up with you and sleeps with you.
I ditched my cell phone, and maybe you should too.
Here’s how to get rid of your cell phone.
How to Ditch Your Cell Phone
I loved my cell phone.
But I got rid of it – forever – and it may be time you did too.
It’s now been 7 years since I decided to start my company.
It was me, my co-founder, two old computers, a great idea, and my cell phone.
I did whatever it took to get and keep business.
I worked 24/7, responding to emails, returning phone calls, reading blogs, texting co-workers, updating Facebook, and more.
I loved our customers, and they loved me.
How could you not with a ten-minute response time?
For the past seven years, my cell phone would dong, dink, or ping every few minutes with a message or update from an important contact, prospect, client, or employee.
I would quickly respond.
My livelihood depended on it, or so I thought.
Make no mistake, it’s incredible that we can reach anyone, anywhere today with mobile phones.
We have access to the world’s information on-demand in our pockets.
Technology allows me to live in San Diego and work in Omaha, Nebraska.
I love technology.
However, I was completely addicted to mobile communication.
The problem is with all that power in your pocket, it’s easy to get consumed in the digital world.
I didn’t realize this until I went to dinner with my wife.
We sat next to a family of four.
The two kids were watching movies on tablets while the two parents were texting on their phones.
Who wants that for their family?
We walked through the shopping mall after our meal.
Just about everyone was typing or scrolling on their cell phones.
Very few were present in the moment.
I’m not telling you anything new.
It’s the world we live in now, I suppose.
However, that evening I realized I, too, checked my cell phone about every ten minutes.
The excuses that came to my mind: Did an email come in I needed to respond to now?
Did someone mention our company on social media?
Was there an urgent text from the office?
Was there an important phone call I missed?
Was there an update in our industry?
What did I miss on Facebook?
What’s going on that I’m missing?
These questions ran through my mind constantly.
I would look at my phone to answer them.
It became an uncontrolled habit that developed into an addiction over the years.
I would be in a perfectly good conversation with my wife and check my cell phone in her mid-sentence.
If a random business thought entered my mind, I would pull out my cell phone and type an unintelligible email to my staff with bad ideas.
I would check my phone in elevators, at the airport, standing in line for coffee, and even at stop lights.
What started as a perceived business necessity had weaseled its way into my persona.
My cell phone made my mind race all day from one idea to the next.
I wanted to be accessible, but I didn’t need to be this accessible.
I ultimately realized I used my cell phone to fill voids in my day, feel important, boost my ego, and check out from the moment.
Long story short, I got rid of my cell phone.
Here are the steps that have enabled me to ditch my cell phone forever.
Step #1: Forward your cell phone calls to a Google Voice number.
Google will provide you with a free local phone number.
Request your mobile provider forward your calls.
Google Voice will transcribe your messages and email them to you for free.
Texts to your new Google Voice number will also be transcribed to email.
Step #2: Don’t take unscheduled phone calls.
Make it your modus operandi to no longer take unscheduled incoming calls.
Your computer is now your mobile phone.
Step #3: Give your contacts your new number
You can do this with a simple Facebook update and email to your database.
Yes, you will miss out on texts.
This is the hardest part of the whole process.
Don’t worry, I found if people text you a few times without a response, they will call or email you.
People will find you.
Step #4: Remove your cell number from all marketing
This step is simple.
Replace your cell number with your new Google Voice number on everything.
Update your email signature, Facebook, LinkedIn, website, and anywhere else you listed your cell number over the years.
Step #5: Get a headset and print a list of local Wi-Fi hotspots
I now use free or inexpensive Wi-Fi at coffee shops, airports, and hotels.
I only take my laptop when I leave home.
No cell phone.
You’ll need a headset to make your phone calls and a printed list of area Wi-Fi hot spots where you can make calls or get work done.
You can’t look it up on your phone anymore.
Before I leave on a trip, I print out directions on Google Maps like in the old days.
If I need to make a phone call, I stop where there is Wi-Fi to make the call.
At this point, you can toss your cell phone.
Be warned – you will most certainly go through withdrawals ditching your cell phone.
You’ll grab your phone, and it won’t be there.
You’ll want to look something up, and you won’t be able.
Yes, it’s inconvenient, but what it gave me has been priceless.
You’ll be forced to be present with your thoughts at the moment.
You still have your laptop or computer.
Your world is not going to crash down.
You’ll get back to every message within 1 business day.
It just won’t be immediate.
The funny thing is few people will notice.
You now get to tell people you don’t have a cell phone.
They will look at you like you are completely insane.
Their immediate response will be, “You don’t have a cell phone?!”
Secretly, they will be jealous.
Just tell them to email, call, or text you at your number.
You’ll get back to them when you are at your computer.
You’ll find yourself thinking deeper, time will slow down, and the joy will return to your one-on-one conversations without interruption.
I invite you to join me in the No Cell Phone club.
It’s a rare club to belong to.
July 27, 2021 at 8:10 PM
The irony is im writing this on my cell/mobile… I am going to get wid of mine in its entirety. I don’t ahve a home phone either. We functioned perfectly with out them before and we HAVE lost so much kore than we have gained i suppose with this fake pandemic and control of our lives with track and trace banks wanting to track you or for you to have a mobile to do anything now is even more of an excuse to ditch this extremely harmful tech… I am disappointed as I love new tech but I suppose just as many books and movies depict all tech that is created seems to eventually be used against us in the end… I will not be part of the so called new world when you have to scan in to do anything and show you have had your poision injected in to you by using your own paid for tech against you! (By the way I have both an application biochemistry degree and an engineering degree!) Not to mention the complete way its (as the author has stated) made us socially constipated! Although again we seem adapt at doing that by believing everything these little and big screens te us through the media properganda machine!
June 30, 2021 at 1:06 PM
Did you consider switching to a dumb phone, like a qwerty Nokia or something? If so why did you decide to dumb cell phones altogether instead of downgrading?
February 21, 2021 at 3:55 PM
I want to do this! My first cell phone was a Nextel two way with cell phone. To say I hated it is an understatement, and the only reason I had it was because my husband worked for Nextel and wanted me to have one do he could get a hold of me at any time! I felt annoyed to have lost my freedom! I couldn’t just ignore the ring, but he was contacting me on the two way so I could hear him saying, “Why are you not answering me?” Since then, it has just grown in me too the point it’s an extension of me! Now I still hate it, but it’s become a love/hate relationship! I think it’s time to break free, especially now with the crazy contact tracing in place!
January 1, 2021 at 1:59 PM
Thus is exactly what I want to do , how much is the google phone number and do you think I can do it without google and just have house phone , and emails ?you have a great way of writing it’s very easy to follow feels like your taking to me personally. Great job !
July 31, 2020 at 7:47 AM
Are there any other free alternatives to google voice?
This sounds really inspiring.
August 20, 2019 at 4:26 PM
I love this, I dont have internet on my phone and that helps but I still check it, great idea