Realizations After 5 Days Without a Phone

Last Saturday, our family attended a drive-in movie event sponsored by our town (Tyrone, GA), playing ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’. With nightfall beginning around 5:45pm this time of year, by the time we arrived for the 6pm showing it was dark. Waiting for the movie to begin, we set up our tailgate and our picnic set-up for the children. Because the lights inside the car weren’t enough, I propped my phone up in the top part of the tailgate with the flashlight on so we could see what our 10-month old was putting in her mouth (could have been anything, we need to clean our car!). As we started to pack up to go toward the concessions to get hot chocolates, I heard a loud crunch as the tailgate door closed. It took about 10 minutes to put two and two together, and as I opened the tailgate it became apparent that my phone, now bent at almost a 45 degree angle, was broken. Being a small business owner who relies on their phone when out of the office, this was devastating, and something that needed to be fixed ASAP.

Sure, we’ve all experienced this before, or some variation. Well, over the course of 5 days, I did hours of research on phones, wireless plans, discounts and also visited AT&T 2 times where the hours posted online and on the door said they would be open, when indeed they were not (the most frustrating part of the whole ordeal!). But surprisingly, the ‘fear’ of being without a phone was completely overblown, and allowed me to come to a few realizations:

    • Just because your phone has an alarm clock feature doesn’t mean you need to use it. A separate alarm clock does the trick just as well and may provide you with better sleep by resisting the urge to check your phone at night or first thing in the morning
    • Social media is a time suck. To be fair, I watched The Social Dilemma the night before my phone broke (perhaps I did this subconsciously?). But without being distracted by social media and email at your fingertips at all times, it allowed me to be more present and engaged with my surroundings and time.
    • You’ll spend more quality time with your kids. Too many times I’ve noticed when playing with my kids that I ‘need’ to quick check my email. What may seem like a quick check to you may be reinforcing where your priorities lie. I’ve noticed both my 3 year old and 10-month old glance my direction often, and having my face buried in my phone, even quickly, is a missed opportunity for undivided attention.
    • You won’t be subjected to constant negativity via the news (unless you keep the news on 24/7 on your TV, but who would want to do that?).

Yes, I still need a phone. Based on the above observations, I looked into reverting back to using a flip phone, or a phone without social media or internet capabilities. But I realized the problem isn’t email or social media, it’s me. Having access to technology can be reassuring and make us more flexible and productive, but only to the extent you are in control, not your phone.

So what am I doing about it? I’m making a conscious effort to put down my phone from when I get home to when the kids go to sleep, to implement a hard ‘shutdown’ time for phone usage to make sure I’m getting adequate sleep, and to recognize that I am in control of my usage, not my phone.

Andrew Langdon is a fee-only financial planner based in Peachtree City, GA serving veterinarians in the Greater Atlanta area and nationwide.  FivePoints Financial Planning provides financial planning and investment management services to veterinarians and those exploring independent practice ownership.  Services are offered on a project or ongoing basis.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Andrew Langdon, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.