Unwired: A Month With Limited Internet, & Now No Cell Phone

By Leo Babauta

In January, as part of my Year of Living Without, I experimented with limited Internet, and this month I’m going without my cell phone.

Limiting my Internet was a challenge, I have to admit. I make my living on the Internet, do my learning there, teach my kids things, do my finances, plan short trips and longer vacations, read and discover and check up on what’s going on with the world. So limiting this connection felt like I was limiting my life.

That experience alone, of feeling like I’m limiting my life, was worth the effort.

Some things I learned in the past month:

Given this experience, I’d like to continue to practice limited email and other work-related Internet tasks, allowing myself to focus on writing and programming and other focus-requiring tasks, but giving myself space to take care of the smaller tasks as well. And I’d like to continue to limit my social media, news, video and other less important Internet usage.

Now a Month Without a Cellphone

In February, I’m going without a cellphone. I’ve already started, and it hasn’t been hard yet, but I’m curious what it will be like going for an extended period without one.

Some background: for many years I purposely avoided having a smartphone and mostly just had a dumbphone that could just make calls and texts (though it did have an alarm, worldclock and calculator!) … but in June I got an iPhone as a Father’s Day gift. Since then, I’ve found it useful but very tempting to check all the time. I’ve gotten better at not checking it constantly, but when I’m out and about and not doing anything, checking the phone is still a default.

So this month, I’m going to go without the cellphone. And unlike the Internet, I’m not going to make a bunch of exceptions.

I’ll make one exception because I don’t have a good alternative: my cellphone will be my alarm clock only.

Other than that, the phone will be off all day. I won’t bring it out with me. I’ll have to look up directions before I leave the house. I’ll be unreachable for any reason. I won’t know the time as I have no watch. I won’t do Anki flashcards or read Instapaper or look at my kids’ Snapchats or check my email or read my blogs on Feedly. Nada.

Wish me luck!