Update: As of 2013, data is now included with my cell phone plan. But thanks to my four year break from it, mobile data no longer interrupts my life like it use to. When used sparingly, it actually enhances it.
A year ago this week, I canceled my data plan. The unexpected catalyst was an awesome trip to Montana. After being tied to my Blackberry for four years, here are 10 observations of “my rebirth” into mobile obscurity:
- My quality of life has improved while productivity has remained constant. By that I mean I get as much done as I did before, only now I enjoy a lot more personal time without work interfering. In many cases, that translates into greater productivity upon returning to work the next morning or after the weekend. Believe it or not.
- My relationship with my wife and children has improved. I recognize them more. I play with them more. With fewer alerts to interrupt us, it’s a lot more fun now.
- Email still waits for me on my computer.
- I read more. Staying off the mobile web has translated into more finished books, which of course translates into greater inspiration for when I return to work.
- I socialize more. I’ve never been one to text, check email, or use the phone in front of others. But smart phones are always in the back of your mind, at least they were for me. Now that my phone is dumbed down, I rely on the people around me a lot more for information and status updates.
- Google Text is a big help. Using short, usually single character commands, I get on-demand information without it interrupting my life. Some of my favorites include travel directions, sports scores, weather, glossary, and flight status updates. I’d continue without my data plan even in the absence Google text. But it’s a nice convenience.
- Wi-FI is also convenient. Since my phone has wi-fi and a browser, I’m still able to access information wherever wireless internet exists, which seems like almost everywhere now. I use Google text way more, but this is nice when I need it.
- I borrow people’s mobile internet for stuff like Shazam and instant access to information (because honestly, Google text doesn’t have everything, and wi-fi setup is slower). In truth, I shouldn’t do this as I’m sure I’ve annoyed friends. “Dude, you need to get a data plan,” some have said half joking. Sorry to any who I’ve treated as Internet secretaries. I’ll hold my curiosity next time.
- Did I mention I’m happier?
- Since a lot of the important stuff is online, living off the leash can be a challenge. That said, I’m still at my desk a good 40-45 hours per week, which translates into 38% of my waking time (or 16 hours per day). If I’m unable to download all the important information in that allotted time, so be it.
What do I miss the most about my data plan? The knowledge that I can instantly access anything I want. But even that is overrated. Overall, going data plan-less has been a revelation. Should have done it sooner.