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  • Writer's pictureNicole Gaillard

I did it! No smartphone for 1 year

September 22, 2022 my Nokia arrived.

An experiment to see what 1 year without a smartphone would be like.

In this previous blog I take you through the first 3 months. Those were all about finding alternatives for missing out on all the apps and socials, on sometimes being totally frustrated but also surprised.

However, that first year is over now.

Curious what life is like now?

Here goes...

1. Change sticks

After a year I can say that the change is sticking, it's not adjusting anymore, my rhythm of life has actually changed and feels different. I have had moments when I really missed my smartphone, especially to stay in touch. In retrospect, often moments when I felt alone or I was just bored. But that's all. They were moments.

2. Dependency is less

There was a time when I was on my laptop more. That I sought out being online anyway. To compensate for the lack of the smartphone. The need to keep up, to belong and at least check the socials. But after a year now, even that becomes less. There is so much more fun offline.

3. More offline life

I am much more offline now than I was a year ago. The balance online/offline in my life has changed structurally. I experience not having a smartphone as liberating. Precisely because I have less flow of information and fewer online contacts, I choose much more consciously what and who I spend my time on. That feels much more natural and peaceful. I am much more connected with myself. More in the here and now. I generally look around more. See more of my surroundings and I experience less hurry and rush.

4. Less "in-house" entertainment

No smartphone also equals less entertainment. I had to get used to that, particularly in the first 3 months. Because let's face it, a lot of the smartphone is entertainment: the many conversations in the whatsapp/telegram/signal groups, the memes, the photos of friends and family, insta, tiktoks, snapchat, bereal, twitter, games, videos, news. It is soooo much. And I'm fine with it, I don't miss it.

All of that feels like filling-up. Filling my time ... but with what?

Are those the beautiful, meaningful things I want to fill my daily life with?

Because frankly, it's much of the same that we find online.

Our is life short, goes fast and is way too valuable to let it be filled like that.

5. Paying better attention (to my loved ones)

The other day a loved one told me that I am always so relaxed and have all the time, when I call to connect. That was such wonderful feedback to receive. Compared to the time when I called from my car on the way home, for a quick catch up. That is actually the biggest gain, most of my interactions have better quality.

Better for myself and for the people around me.

That feels free, connected and so good.

6. Out with friends that bring their smartphone

When I'm with friends, I notice how briefly some are interested in their surroundings and how quickly they are tempted to grab their smartphone.

For instance, while we're on a terrace waiting for our drinks, checking and replying to that message that just came in. Checking the weather for tomorrow, the agenda for that next appointment, possible traffic jams for later. To accidentally end up in Wordfeut game, to put in that last word.

And to be fair, I was like that too.

It is just that now it strikes me. People actually check out at that moment. Their attention is not with you or with their surroundings. They choose to make that moment of togetherness less important and to give their priority to everything that happens in the smartphone.

Very uncomfortable.

Sometimes I think: "Hey, I'm here too. I'm here for you. Just talk to me. Or stare with me across the road, into the distance and then we say nothing at all. Please stay here with me, in this moment and let's have fun or be bored together."

Fortunately, more and more people are consciously keeping their phones away during moments together.

7. Outside, connecting more

When I work from home, I always have a cup of tea on the bench in front of my house during my breaks. And then I kind of look out into the street. At the people and their interaction, the surroundings, dogs passing by, the children playing, the clouds in the sky, the birds, bees, butterflies....

Because I have been doing this for a year now, all the neighborhood children, cats, dogs and their owners know me well. Everyone always says hello to me.

And someone always comes by to chat. Kids come and show me all kinds of things, ask me something or come and sit next to me. Because my attention doesn't get lost in anything during my breaks, there is spontaneously more connection with the people in my neighborhood. Resulting in quicker collaborations when something needs to be done in our street.

8. There is always an alternative way

For really everything I wanted to do, work or private, I was always able to find another way. Most of that you'll find in this blog: 'What I learned in 3 months about living without a smartphone'.

A more recent example comes from a new collaboration with this beautiful company. For internal communication this company uses multiple whatsapp groups in which colleagues exchange information. So I had to figure out how to stay up to date on all communication if I don't have Whatsapp? I initiated an open and genuine conversation. To take a good look at which information is important and necessary for the shared work we were going to do. We looked at which communication I would have and what I was going to miss out on. And how I could still get that information. Just having that conversation was a very useful. After some deeper research, much of the communication in the Whatsapp groups turns out to be inspiring, very interesting and fun, but not necessary for our collaboration.

After a period of trying out, I found that I could pick up most important information in no less than 5 other contact moments: the regular email exchanges, the 1-on-1 contact with colleagues, the team-zooms, before, during or after physical meetings, as well as in the software system in which we work together and build dossiers. This was an important and exciting step for me and I am appreciative for the pleasant, open way of working together with this partner, one based on mutual trust.

9. Payment failure

Without a smartphone, communication and trust turns out to be something I fall back on more often. Like recently at our local supermarket, I came to the checkout with a cart full of groceries when just then there was the nationwide banking (pin) failure.

At first, I saw the cashier puzzled, calling and inquiring at headquaters why the pin-transactions (debit cards) were not working. People with cash were able pay, but most of us donn't carry cash anymore. Unfortunately I had no cash at that time (learning point, one I already knew: always have cash). So me and the other customers had to wait for the national banking failure to be resolved. Or put groceries back on the shelves. The lines were getting longer.

Fairly quickly, the owner came up with an alternative idea to pay, through a personal payment request iIn NL it is called a 'Tikkie'). A super customer-friendly way to solve the long line and all people happily went home with their groceries.

Without a smartphone however, personal payment requests are no option. So I entered into a conversation with the owner. And since he knows me as a regular customer, he gave me a receipt and let me take the two bags of groceries home for me to pay the amount at home. I felt so grateful to get that much trust. Of course at home I immediately grabbed my laptop and paid. And again, the solution was rooted in trust and mutual respect.

10. Attention, trust, mutual respect

Without a smartphone, you somehow fall back more on the real connection between people. And honestly, for me that makes life richer.

Everyone I meet is always interested and willing to participate in a solution. I think these three: attention, trust and mutual respect are so wie so the basis for many of the beautiful and good things in life.

And they are the 3 things that have increased in my past year.

Do I want to go back ?

The question I get asked most: Do I want a smartphone again? The answer for now is No. I experience life as much more natural, more mindful, richer and with more real connection. I cherish the moments of honest and respectful collaboration, the larger dose of loving attention from others. And I love trusting that I will always

find a solution to everything I want to do.

What about you?

You've read my blog. Curious what you think of it. Feel free to let me know.

If you've come this far, you're probably also thinking about the way you interact with your smartphone. What is it you would like to change or achieve?

P.S: My friend Carina has been living without a phone for 15 years now and I love

how natural it is for her. She tells all about it in her blog: Happy & Free without a phone.

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