Do you love your cell phone?
I bet you wake 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. At bedtime,you clean your email inbox 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 with you and literally 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 of course – my cell phone.
I did whatever it took to get and keep business. I worked 24/7 responding to email, 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 pocket. 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 into the digital world. I didn’t realize this until I was out 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 where both 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.
In elevators, at the airport, standing in line for coffee, and even at stop lights I would check my phone. 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, to feel important, to boost my ego, and to check out from the moment.
Long story short, I got rid of my cell phone. Here are the steps I took 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, your website, and anywhere else you listed your cell number from over the years.
Step #5: Get a headset and print a list of local Wi-Fi hotspots
I use the free or inexpensive Wi-Fi at coffee shops, airports, and hotels now.
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 the old days.
If I need to make a phone call, I stop where there is Wi-Fi to make the call.
That’s it. 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 for 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 back has been priceless.
You’ll be forced to be present with your own thoughts in 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. 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 immediately 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 come back 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.