I feel like before I share my experience about leaving my phone in the US while I traveled abroad I need to disclaim a few things. 1) I was on PTO from my day job and was not required to be available 2) My husband brought his phone which I had logged into some properties on and 3) I did check my email once during the trip and posted on Instagram almost daily via a 10-minute block I gave myself through his phone.
For months before my Thailand trip, I was feeling overwhelmed. This constant sense of always having to be “on”, which is inherent in the lives of entrepreneurs, side-hustlers and pretty much anyone who chooses to damn themselves to a life of being constantly working. I know that when I am living my day to day life, phone time is a necessity. It’s how I write my posts, how I engage with my audience, handle business affairs and basically live. That’s when I realized that if I truly wanted a vacation from it all, I needed to leave my phone at home.
Short answer: nothing.
Nothing happened. The world was still spinning. People in politics were still fighting, random people in high school were still asking me if I had heard of Beach Body – everything was business as usual except for one thing.
I was in a much better place.
I was writing again, reading again, and being able to spend time looking away from a screen. I felt rejuvenated and relaxed. For days afterward I would leave my phone at home when I was running errands, going to workout classes and even in a room at home. I didn’t feel the need to be attached to my phone, and it was the most freeing feeling.
SO YOU REALLY DIDN’T TAKE YOUR PHONE?
I really didn’t. I left it on the kitchen counter until my brother-in-law had to come get it (more on that later) and to add insult to injury, I also didn’t take my laptop or my DSLR camera. Hey, it was a vacation! I did however bring an old tablet and bought one of those cases with a keyboard so I could read my kindle and write when I felt inspired.
OKAY, BUT REALLY – HOW WAS IT?
I won’t lie and tell you that it wasn’t strange. I found myself reaching for it about 10 times a day the first few days that I was in Thailand, which made me realize how much I needed this cleanse. I gave myself about 10 minutes twice a day on Sahir’s phone to post a photo from the trip because I did want to share things with my followers and answer any DMs. I didn’t, however, have any time to scroll through feeds.
The one time I checked my email was halfway through the trip and honestly, it was a bunch of deleting spam emails and flagging a few that I needed to get back to. For anything timely, I sent a quick email letting the person know I was interested, but out of town and would respond when I got back in 5 days. They appreciated the note and told me not to worry and we would chat soon.
I know what you are thinking: sounds great for you, but I could never do that. I’m not addicted to my phone, I can put it down anytime I want! I read articles, listen to podcasts, and am a more productive member of society by using my phone. — Of course, you are. If you feel you have a balance in your life then by all means, but I think for the majority of us we could use a little practice in being more present and less addicted to our phones.
A phone detox isn’t for everyone and I wouldn’t force it on you, but if you feel the urge to see what your life is like without your phone – a vacation is a great place to start.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR OWN PHONE DETOX:
1. Get ahead of your work
It’s not always possible, but when you can it’s best to be ahead. I wrote two weeks of posts before I left for Thailand and it felt so good to have things on auto schedule. My content was still going out, my audience was still being served, and I had peace of mind knowing my business was not taking a hit.
2. Over-communicate to everyone
Yes, your mom is part of “everyone”, but my focus here is people involved in your business life. I emailed all of my current clients to let them know that I would be out of pocket for 10 days and would respond to all emails when I returned. Additionally, I put an out of office on for any emails I received when I was out. My clients appreciated the upfront notice instead of just seeing an auto email if they emailed me something time sensitive.
3. Take your phone
I know. I know this seems counter-intuitive, but emergencies happen and having access to your phone is essential. I had an email blast that needed to go out and my intern couldn’t send it for me based on my permission settings. I realized that because I had a two-factor authentication on, I couldn’t even log in to change the permissions without my phone. This ended in calling my brother-in-law to go to the house, get my phone, and retrieve the verification code when I was in Bangkok. Avoid the hassle and take your phone – but don’t buy the plan! If you have to pay for roaming charges you are more likely to keep your phone off unless it’s an emergency.
That’s it! I hope I inspired you to at least consider making your vacation, a real vacation. You can still snap pictures in the moment, but forget about the likes and forget about the emails – enjoy this time away from your normal life and spend your time doing the things that make you happiest like playing games and soaking in the sun. Trust me, the world will be there when you get back.