6 Benefits to Getting Rid of Your Smartphone

Hello, my name is Matt and I was once addicted to my smartphone. In 2007, I was one of the first people to get an iPhone. I was blown away by the technology. And I was hooked. By the spring of 2009, I got rid of it and never looked back.

6 benefits to getting rid of your smarthphone

Why @MattMcWilliams2 got rid of his smartphone and you probably should too. (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook

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Here’s why I got rid of my smartphone and why there’s a better than decent chance that you should too.

Bonus Content: If you’re ready to break your smartphone addiction once and for all, my free guide, The 12 Steps to Breaking Your Smartphone Addiction can help. Look for it at the end of this post or Click Here to Get it Now!

Toilet tweeting

At the risk of offending every single female that reads this and make every single man giggle at the idea, my iPhone addiction hit a critical mass when my wife discovered that I was a Toilet Tweeter.

It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out what that is. It’s someone who feels the need to tweet from the bathroom. Tara and I were taking a wonderful tour of the Tennessee Aquarium. I took some wonderful pictures. All of which ended up on Twitter every hour or so.

She realized I had a problem before I did, but the problem was much deeper than my toilet tweeting. I’ll discuss those as I share with you the 6 benefits of getting rid of your smartphone.

6 benefits of getting rid of your smartphone

1. You’re not tied to something so “invaluable”

Quick: Where is your smartphone right now? Of course you know where it is. Your life practically depends on it. Now…where are your kids? The sad reality is that I’d bet more people know for sure at any given time where their phone is than know where their kids or spouse are.

Personally, I’d rather have the freedom of forgetting something so utterly unimportant and it not being the end of the world.

2. The joy of unavailability

If you email me when I am traveling and I can’t get on wifi, you aren’t going to hear from me for a while.

If I am playing golf on a Tuesday afternoon, that means 4-5 hours without email or social media. If I am at home with my family, nothing short of a phone call (which I will ignore anyway unless you call me two times in a row) will catch my attention. No dings, beeps, or other noises. No temptation to check it. Nothing. Just me and whatever I am doing at the time.

And guess what? If the world really did come to an end, someone will call me. My regular phone works just fine for that.

3. You save money

This can’t be ignored as a viable reason. When I first tossed my iPhone, the $480 a year we saved was a big deal. Now, it’s a drop in the bucket, but still worth noting. If you invest the $40 a month you spend on data for 40 years, it will be worth $412,388.24. I sure hope you enjoy that data plan!

4. You will be more productive

Wait a minute. Aren’t smartphones supposed to make us more productive? Sure, and prepackaged foods make you healthier.

Contrary to popular belief, being “always on” doesn’t make you more productive. It makes you dumber. It makes you less creative. Constantly checking email, reading the news, refreshing your blog stats, or doing whatever you do on your phone for hours each day does not make you more productive. Down time does.

I check email 2-4 times per day. that’s it. (More tips on handling email better) I check social media at predefined times, not when I am bored. I do everything at a scheduled time, not just because I am waiting to get my haircut. I use my downtime as just that: downtime. Time to refresh. Time to learn. Time to think. So when I am working, I am much more productive.

5. More social interaction

Not “social” as in social media. Real social interaction. With people in the grocery store. Or waiting in line at the post office. Real people. With real stories.

I used to spend my life with my head down, thumbs fluttering on my phone. But not now. I don’t have the choice. What am I going to do? Re-read that text message from earlier today from my mom? Update the ringtone on Tara’s text messages? Change the default font or perhaps the background image? So I interact with people. And I am better for it.

6. Less news = more positive

I used to read Google News for at least 30 minutes a day. I knew everything going on in the world. If I didn’t have emails or tweets, I was reading the news. In lines, at home, and yes…in the bathroom.

All that news was making me depressed, angry, and more negative. That’s what the news does to us. Without ready access, I’d have to spend valuable work time reading the news. That’s not going to happen. So I literally know nothing of it. And I am happier and more productive as a result. I got rid of my smartphone not by choice, but essentially by demand from my wife. And it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Next addiction…iPad Mini. At least I don’t have that in my pocket all day. Thanks to Tara, I know of these 6 benefits to getting rid of my smartphone…and now, so do you.

Question: Have you experienced any of the symptoms of smartphone addiction? What would your life be like without one? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Convicting post, Matt. There’s no question I have dealt with this addiction.

    • I kind of went cold turkey and it worked for a while. Then we got an iPad and I picked up some of my bad habits again.

      But that being said, if it’s not a large problem but you want to improve, I would say the same thing I told @brentmkelly:disqus. Start with reasonable boundaries. No smartphone usage after 8 or before morning family time. Something like that.

      Even knocking out 10 minutes a day of use can go a long way.

  • brentmkelly

    Did you write that to me? Haha. I’m not going to you where I’m writing this comment from, but I’m sure you will figure it out.

    In all seriousness, this is a problem for me. I used to feel my response time to my insurance clients via my blackberry years ag was a badge of honor. Now, it’s and expectation.

    I am taking baby steps to move away from this addiction. Great post.

    • I remember that badge of honor feeling. “Look at me, responding to you at 10:30 pm and then 6:30 am.”

      But it’s bogus. Good for you for starting. Now, cut another 10 minutes a day. Or set boundaries, such as no phone after 8:00 or before 8:00.

  • allen

    …When taking your smartphone to bed with you do it in comfort with
    this great stand that magically floats your phone bedside. Universal fit
    for Samsung and Apple phones. Now at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/
    product/B0074U2MAK.

  • Sue

    You are right that this can be an addiction. I got rid of my smartphone years ago. I even went about a year without a cell phone altogether because I had a land line. I figured, if I was out, I didn’t want to be talking on a phone anyway, so I would call people back when I was home and had time to talk. Also, when I didn’t have a cell phone, I found I would actually talk to people more as opposed to texting. I can’t stand going out and seeing people constantly on their phones. Or in a restaurant, they have to have to have their phones out on the table and constantly looking at it to see if people are contacting them… a little narcissistic, in my opinion.

    • Good for you Sue!

      I travel a little too much to get rid of my cell phone altogether but it sure would be nice. I do turn it off a lot and less than 20 people have the number, so I can go entire days without talking to anyone on it who is not my wife :)

  • Thank you for confirming all the reasons I do not have a smart phone. Well, those reasons plus not getting service where I live. . . This week for the first time I began considering getting a smart phone, because when I begin to presell my book, it would be an advantage to use a Square to accept plastic from people.

    Now, I am unsure again. Maybe there is another way. (Seems you have quite an influence over my decisions, Matt. Try not to abuse this power!) 😎

    • HAHA!

      Jana, you could always get a tablet. They are useful for things like that and if you really do want to read an ebook or need to schedule a reminder or something, but too cumbersome to just carry with you and whip out when you are bored.

      I still spend too much time on the iPad, but my “smart-device” usage is 1/3 of what it would be if I had a smartphone.

      • Nice idea about the tablet – I will look into it. Thank you!

        And I am NEVER bored. That just cracked me up! I almost always have my knitting with me.

  • Great post Matt. I have a problem with my phone for sure. Right now I turn it off one day a week but even the is hard. I may get rid of it. You are very convincing:)

    • I try :)

      In all seriousness, though, if you say you have a problem, there is only one option. Get rid of it.

      If you’d said “I spend a little too much time” or “It doesn’t interfere with social interaction” or anything of the like, you might get away with setting boundaries, but it sounds like cold turkey is the best route. You’ll hate me for 3-9 months, then like me again.

  • LadyMcKermit

    Hi Matt, I think the balance factor is an important thing to discuss. I noticed it when my husband and I were watching tv and not talking to each other. We don’t have kids yet, but we plan to and also plan to be good and intentional parents… so I would like my kids to not be tied to an electronic device. Lead by example. In that same vein, we went to the bookstore last night and bought a “daily devotional” which is for husbands and wives, to read a passage of the bible and talk about it… So far, I like it! Personally I have recognized this is an issue and I make it a point to turn my phone off when visiting with friends.

    • “I make it a point to turn my phone off when visiting with friends.”

      But what if someone calls? What if someone tweets? What if….

      Just kidding. GREAT idea!

  • Renee B.

    You’re so lucky your wife helped you detach. Good job letting it go, Matt!

  • I hear you, Matt. I have a social media addiction, for sure. And content addiction. There is so much good stuff out there! I think the reason we get hooked is the instant gratification. Someone “liked my post” or “retweeted me”. Beyond that, though, I think we have the need for connection and the paradox is that we isolate ourselves at restaurants, on the bus, at the coffee shop, by connecting to someone far away instead of the person right in front of us. My compromise is to have a cell phone with a limited data plan (I call it dumbphone, because it truly does not work that great, even as a phone), so I get online on it when I have to check work email, for example. We have so much lost touch that even though I have my phone numbers in my email signature, I know no one will ever call me. We feel talking is intrusive. Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

    • I’ve called my phone a dumbphone too. Especially those times when I actually do need to retrieve an email on the go. Looking back, it’s never cost me any money and there have only been about 8 times when I “REALLY” needed something online…in 5 years.

      • I think you’ve just talked me out of upgrading to an iPhone :)

  • Luba Rokpelnis

    It seems more and more people have a smartphone anymore, even middle school children. It’s refreshing to receive encouragement not to get one. I can do more than enough with my cell phone. My brother is trying to “scare” me into thinking I’ll be one of the 1% who does not have one, but I know plenty of others who do not own one and are ignorantly blissful, I guess. :)

    • I’m pretty sure Warren Buffett doesn’t have one. So ask your brother how he likes them apples. :)

      • Luba Rokpelnis

        That’s a good one. :)

  • well….I don’t have a problem….lol, it is because I live in the mountains right now and I don’t have cell coverage everywhere I go. I’m only one year into having one, and I have watched others and seen what I didn’t like and made sure the phone does not rule my attention. I don’t want to be one of those in the airport who just looks down all the time! And it drives me nuts if you check your text while I’m eating./dining with you.

    But the smartphone has been a great tool for me, but I do agree about the cost, It is a bit stupid.

    • Good for you Steve! Keep making sure it doesn’t rule your attention.

    • Same for me, Steve. The lack of coverage in the hills and mountains where I live makes it a crazy extravagance. Doesn’t stop any of my friends and neighbors, but I doubt their homes are paid for. (smug smile)

  • Interesting post Matt! I see the benefits from both side, having and not having a smart phone. I like your point about how much money a person can save in the long run due to not having a high phone plan. Great post.

    • Thank you for sharing, Dan. I appreciate it.

      • Oh, your welcome. Love the dialog that goes on at your blog:)

  • Mark Deterding

    Matt, very interesting and thought provoking post. Another reason to get rid of your smart phone is it eliminates the temptation of putting yourself and others at risk due to checking your phone / email / texts while driving. Thanks for all the great work you do!

    • So true Matt. I can still text (I don’t) if I wanted or call, but I really don’t get that many texts or calls since so few people have my number.

  • This is a problem I see in many of my friends. The biggest problem with using smartphone is the notification feature. Sure, it helps us to know about things in real-time but is it necessary?
    Notification is crazily distracting and I can’t really stand the constant beeping of my friends phone. Ironically, I also have a handphone but I muted all notifications. It’s really peaceful.

    Another thing about smartphone is it’s becoming the new TV. When people are bored or don’t have anything to do, the smartphone will be the go-to entertainment. Before this we need to go in front of a cube to get our share of entertainment but now,,,it’s all in our pocket.

    • Well said Wan. Even when I had an iPhone, I always had it on mute. I think for about four weeks, I thought I was cool because I had iPhone ringtones that most people didn’t have. Then I realized I was just being annoying.

      • “I thought I was cool because I had iPhone ringtones that most people didn’t have.”

        I’ve experienced the same feeling, Matt. The agony of trying to look cool 😀

  • Matt, I’ll bite. While I wholeheartedly agree with you, I’m not going to ditch my iPhone. How can that be? I’m not addicted to it. I interact with people socially, and I use my smartphone to enhance that, not instead of it. As a testament to that, I’ve still got an iPhone 4s with 16GB of memory, even though I’d love to get the latest iteration with all the memory possible and fingerprint unlock. The truth is that I don’t need that. Not really.

    That’s not to say that I could never get to the point of ditching my smartphone. I just don’t have the same compelling reason to make that move. It isn’t a distraction while I’m working, or golfing.

    Bottom line is I’m my own distraction, so unless I have a plan, it will not matter if I have an iPhone, an iMac, a MacBook Pro, or any other piece of technology… or lack them. Without sticking to my plan, I’m toast!

    • Very well said Ken. It’s all about knowing yourself. If the phone is not a problem, no need to get rid of it. If TV is, get rid of that. If it’s something else, get rid of that.

      • Absolutely Matt! So easy to say, so much harder to actually do.

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  • I’m considering this when my current contract is up in another year or so. It’s hard for me, partly because I’m a software developer, so this is what I do. Kind of like Michael Shumacher saying, “That’s it, from now on I’m going to drive a Prius.” But you can’t ignore the positive impacts of not always grabbing for the stupid thing to look up one more factoid on Google or IMDB or check another delivery date from UPS or….

    I’m already cutting way back on my social networking because while I do get a little goodness out of it work-wise, the signal-to-noise ratio is so high that it’s mostly just a distraction. Twitter? Ugh. Useless. Facebook? Mostly an ongoing class reunion.

    I hear a simpler time calling my name.

    • For people who kind of “have to” have them for work, I heard some good ideas recently.

      1. If possible, leave it at work. This might mean you need 2 phones, though, so if money is tight, it can be an issue, but a lot of times you can add another line to a family plan for like $10.

      2. When you get home, it goes in a drawer for a defined period of time.

      3. It’s off limits certain times of the week. This might mean you enlist the help of a friend or spouse.

      Again, it’s all about level of addiction. I would never tell an alcoholic it’s OK to leave some booze around the house but to set limits or to just resist it. But if someone said they would like to cut back from 7 drinks a week to 3, I think that is doable without going scorched earth.

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  • mbmrb

    Not to mention the privacy concerns. Who really knows who’s looking at our personal data?

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  • Megan

    :) Got rid of my Iphone 4s today! I may downgrade to an old ‘dumb’ phone in the future… but for the mean time I am just enjoying my freedom!

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  • Mitchell Strickling

    I am on board 100%. My question to you is what cell phone do I get? I have read about the Motorola KRZR (hehe seems like ages ago), but I do not want to drop a $100 and not have the SIM card work, no plans exist, etc.

    • I have an LG something or other. As long as it has a QWERTY keyboard, I’m good. I still technically have internet if I ever desperately need it. Used it once in the past five years :)

  • Aishwarya J

    WOW great post! I made big life changes a year ago:
    1. Delete Facebook
    2. Uninstall whatsapp
    3. Get rid of smartphone and buy a simple basic set (non smartphone) with just basic calls/sms feature.

    Those were the best life decisions i have ever taken in my life! I am thankful to myself 😛

    Reasons:
    1. I don’t want to chase/beg/impress anyone.. i don’t need others approval,like,love etc etc
    I have it for myself and thats enough
    2. Out of the so called “789” friends on fb.. seriously how many of them really give a shit about u? It will come down to a single digit! So many fake people with fake emotions
    3.All kinds of events happen in life- fall in love,breakups,death, birth of new family member, success, failure.. – instead of living in the moment.. people keep updating abt them 24*7
    4. Why need an app for everything?!?! Our ancestors achieved a lot more in life.. were a lot happier than us without these apps!
    5.You will know who the real ones are… who really care about you.. a lot of junk/mess will be cleaned!
    6. You will get a lot of time for yourself and for your family
    7. You will start doing what you love. I started yoga, swimming, dancing, painting etc etc.. I dont do these – take a picture- upload- wait for likes n comments, I do it for my happiness ALONE

    Last but not the least- YOU WILL LIVE… not just exist!

    • Well done. That is AWESOME!

      I love this. Mind if I highlight this in a future post?

      • Aishwarya J

        Sure :)

  • madethatway

    Makes me smile, knowing others are doing this, too.

    I went a little bit further and gave away my widescreen cretinizer, stopped buying newspapers and magazines and stopped listening to the radio. The relief and sense of peace was instantaneous and profound.

    If I want to watch a movie, I’ll buy a dvd and watch it on the pc. Simple. No ads. No interruptions. And no Netflix.

    My attitude is that if there’s anything truly important I need to know, it will always reach me; someone will call or email to let me know, but nothing earth-shattering has ever occurred and life continues to be peaceful and sane.

    Amazing how good it feels to kill the external chaos and negativity and be able to hear yourself think :)

  • Patrick

    I can’t believe I have found this discussion! I was just thinking the other day, people coming into work, leaving work, going into the store, coming out of the store and just plain in the store…Looking at their phones! I then came across one of my LG900G phones I used to use. Since I don’t want to wait for a new sim card, I’ll just buy a new one and go back to a basic phone I can text with if I needed to. One that does not have all the bells and whistles on a smart phone. I am ready to do this after reading everything here..I’m looking forward to getting my life back

    • Congratulations Patrick on getting your life back!

      If you are anything like me, you will find freedom and peace again :)

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  • Peter Drinnan

    I decided to toss mine after I realized it was just a constant distraction that really offered no real benefit. If I was a travelling salesman of something maybe not but I work in an office. Now I check my personal email once per day. If someone REALLY needs to reach me they can call my office or home number. Getting out the taxing habit of constantly checking emails, skype, twitter etc was a very positive thing with no real downside.

  • husna shabir

    you have just given me the push i needed to get rid of my iphone! thank you Matt :) you are a world changer!

  • Shoshana Friedman

    I just found your article through google in my search to find some validation for getting rid of my phone. It’s been about a month so the withdrawal is almost gone, and I am loving it. I also felt that it took over my life in many ways. I now have so much more time and attention to give to my kids.

    • So awesome Shoshana. I also just got rid of my iPad Mini that seemed to creep its way into all of my life. So much more freedom now.