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Less Smart Phone, More Communication


During the month of October, I’m following along with Edie & Ruth on their 31 Days of Less & More journey. I’d love for you to join in by reading the posts and completing the projects, or just sit back and read along each day.

Less Smart Phone

It took my husband two years to convince me that getting a smart phone was a good idea. I had all sorts of excuses about how extravagant and unnecessary it was, but in the end, he won.

And he was so very right. 🙂

Since I have a business and travel regularly, my smart phone saves me an incredible amount of time, money, and hassle. I can keep up on emails, manage my team, have conference calls, check into my flights, get directions when I’m driving, keep track of all my travel information, and get internet pretty much anywhere without having to pay an extra fee.

I am much more efficient thanks to my smart phone. It streamlines my life and saves my sanity. But it can also take over my life. Thus, the reason I have Smart Phone Rules. These are not hard and fast rules and maybe these won’t be the same rules I’ll have for years to come, but right now, they are working really well for me:

1. I Don’t Play Games

I know, I’m so very boring aren’t I? But here’s the thing: I don’t need any more reasons to be connected to electronics. So I just haven’t learned how to play any of the games and then I don’t know what I’m missing. 🙂

2. I Only Have a Few Apps

This is the minimalist in me, but it really streamlines my life. I have a very small number of apps I use and I rarely add new ones.

3. I Don’t Update My Blog/Facebook From My Phone

This is just a personal preference thing, but it’s also a way to stay more untethered. If I don’t have things set up so I can update my blog or Facebook Page with my phone, I won’t be tempted to do so.

4. I Leave My Phone Off Sometimes

Novel idea, I know. 🙂 But truly, I think it’s important to know that I can survive untethered. So sometimes, when I’m with friends or we’re going out somewhere, I leave my phone off — or leave it home altogether.

See Ruth’s Smart Phone Rules here. Great food for thought!

More Communication

It’s pretty easy to send quick texts or tweets or to email someone through Facebook, but many times, there’s not a lot of real depth or sacrifices required in these relationships.

It takes much more effort to meet someone for coffee, to call your friend to pray with her over the phone, to drop everything to help a neighbor in need. Close, long-lasting friendships take work, effort, and time, but they are so worth it.

If you don’t have any close friendships in your life right now, can I encourage you to do all you can to cultivate friendships? To have friends you have to be a friend. Reach out, ask questions, be a listener, be interested, give, care, pray, offer to help… I’ve found that the more I invest in others, the more I’m blessed in return!

For more on this topic, check out Ruth’s post on Less Smart Phone and Edie’s post on More Communication. I promise you’ll be inspired and blessed!

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  • Elise says:

    I’m right there with you on not playing games. I don’t need another reason to be looking at a screen all the time. I do, however, update social media from my mobile – otherwise It wouldn’t happen!

    Btw, I don’t actually have a smartphone, but my iPod is basically my lifelines. I do most of my typing on it while nursing a baby. 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    I haven’t bought a smart phone because of the price, but also because I’m afraid I’d be tethered to it and become one of those moms checking the phone at sports games, the playground, etc. I can see how easy it would be to do.

  • Jessica says:

    I find it easier just to not have a smart phone. I have a basic phone that makes and receives calls. I only turn it on when I leave the house. I’m a SAHM and freelance writer. Generally the times I use the phone are something to the effect of calling my husband to ask him if there’s a board game he wants at the garage sale I’m shopping at, or to tell him I’m going to be a little late coming home from the grocery store. They have been helpful- my husband’s phone takes pictures (including lots of pictures of his pocket, lol!), which helped when he was in an accident in March and our car was totaled. He took photos of the at-fault driver’s license plate and of the damage of all three vehicles involved.

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    Amen! I’m putting off owning a smart phone as long as I can, and we don’t have a texting plan. Texting and smart phones are great tools, but I’m concerned about how I would use those tools. I’m distracted enough as it is without adding more technology to the equation!

  • Stephanie says:

    I am an introvert and technology has made it easy to interact without actually…interacting. I have a couple friends who will say enough online, we need to see you in person. 🙂 We try to meet for coffee once or twice a month. I never WANT to do it, but am always happy that I did. I’m sure other introverts can relate!

    • Stephanie I can soooo relate to that!!!! I have the hardest time bonding with other people and I really have to step outside my comfort zone to interact live and in person. Like you said I never “want” to but I’m always so glad I do.

  • My husband and I have dumb phones on a plan that is somewhere around 10 years old. We pay $10 per month for each of them! At that price, it’s going to take a lot of convincing to change us over to smartphones. We don’t even have texting, just old fashioned talking 🙂

    Eventually my husband’s firm will get one for him, but he is very disciplined and I don’t think he’ll have a problem disconnecting.

  • moneystepper says:

    I like the idea of setting strict rules for iphone use. It amazes me how much time some people spent unproductively on their smart phones playing candy crush or jewel mania!!

    I’ve not yet got a smart phone (as I have a blackberry for work emails), but the flight check-in features seem like one of the best reasons to get one!

  • Emily says:

    I like number 5 especially. I’m often on call for work, so when I’m not it’s a lovely feeling to leave the phone at home sometimes.

    I may just be a slow texter, but I recently looked at the call time on a quick phone call to my husband before grocery shopping to see if he needed anything. It only took 30 seconds. Texting back and forth would have taken me longer and been so much less personal.

  • Thanks for sharing Crystal! I save tons of money with my iphone. I write math curriculum and I get extra jobs because I’m the first one to reply. I also save with coupons at stores like Kohl’s where they just scan it off my phone.

  • K.S says:

    I love how you ended this…”I’ve found that the more I invest in others, the more I’m blessed in return!” That is so true! =)

  • So true. Just reaching out to someone who needs a friend is such a big deal. I was at a ladies’ retreat this weekend and two of the ladies were just in tears, saying “I don’t have a single friend I can call.” These were gorgeous, popular, friendly women whom you’d never think needed a friend. But they did and no one had bothered to reach out to them. Ouch. We never know who we will reach when we just try to be a friend to someone else instead of thinking about ourselves all the time.

  • Kelly says:

    Great words of wisdom, Crystal! I have definitely gotten too caught up in my smart phone at times and have to delete apps that distract me. Rules are a must! Seeing as how I wrote an entire book on the importance of true friendships, I was inwardly applauding what you said about what true friendships should look like.

    I am grateful for you and your willingness to let God use you in this space. You inspire and encourage me pretty much every day. 🙂

  • I think the smart phone this has a lot to do with personality. I love to be on FB and reading blogs and such but I don’t spend a ton of time on my phone when I’m out and about. I do some if I’m waiting for my husband and the baby is asleep in her car seat or something. I love it for looking things up and coupon apps. But I am not a “glued to their phone” person like a lot of people are these days.

    I have a friend who is about a 1.5 hr drive away. She’s been going through some very tough things. She would call and say she needed a night away, could she come here. I’m made her favorite cookies, get her favorite drinks, etc. Then she would spend half her time here on her phone. It always bothered me so much I vowed to never be a phone addict. I think we all should have some sort of personal rules regarding our phone and computer use. It is just a smart idea!

  • Sarah says:

    My husband and I both have iPhones and we’ve come up with rules too. We don’t have a home phone so we can’t both turn them off but we take turns. Between dinner and bedtime there’s no phone use. The only game I play is one with my husband (something we pick together like scrabble) and it’s a fun way of staying connected even when we don’t get to see each other much because of work or travel. When I leave the house the phone stays in my purse unless I’m taking pictures. And finally Sunday is a tech free family day. No tv, video games, phones, or Facebook. It’s been nice to actually spend time together as a family without distractions.

  • Lacey says:

    Some of my closest friends live very far away so there isn’t the opportunity to have coffee or connect in person often. Facebook makes that easier. My local friends are older and don’t get the whole FB thing so they aren’t electronically all that tethered. I do wish however, that my husband would turn his phone off sometimes and not talk to people while we are eating. It really ticks me off.

  • Melissa Robinson says:

    I hate to be annoying, but the fact that you switched from “smart phone” to “iPhone” bothered me. Are you endorsing Apple’s product line now? I happen to believe there are a great number of other smart phones out there, which are much cheaper, and more friendly to free market, therefore, saving me money.

    That being said, I have disconnected my SMARTPHONE from automatically getting updates. I don’t have to know every time someone posts on my wall, or sends me an email. That has been very freeing for me.
    Thanks for all you do!

    • Crystal says:

      Please forgive me for annoying you with this post. I am so very sorry! I didn’t even realize that I’d used “iPhone” instead of Smart Phone. I just changed that back so it wouldn’t be bothersome to people.

      For a long list of reasons, we’ve chosen to go with iPhones. However, know that I’m not endorsing Apple’s product line or getting paid to talk about iPhones. I really like my iPhone, but I’m all about doing what works best for you.

      I’m so thankful that you’ve found an option that works well for you and your budget. That’s fantastic and I’d love to hear about it if you have time to share. I’m sure others would find it helpful, too!

  • Sally Berwick says:

    I would love to get a Smartphone, i phone, etc, but after thoroughly researching it over several months it looks like I would pay $25/month more then just using my old school phone. Has anyone gone from a regular old cell phone to a smart phone and not had to pay more? Just curious.

    • kimberly says:

      Every few weeks there is a post on the Money Saving Mom Facebook wall about how to save money on cell phone/smart phone plans. My favorite is that we went from Verizon (with two smartphones) at around $110 per month to Page Plus Cellular (with 2 smartphones) for around $26 per month! See if you can find some of the posts on the Facebook wall. Lots of different people use different services and methods for having cheaper cell service!

    • Debbie says:

      Another one to check out is Republic Wireless. It’s a hybrid of VOIP & cellular which may work better for some people if they have access to wifi or their cellular signals are weak. They only have 1 phone (not that great of a phone) and 1 plan right now ($19/mo), but in November are getting another phone (the awesome Moto X) with 4 new plans ranging from $5-$40 a month, and soon will have another couple phones to choose from as well.

      I am with Virgin Mobile right now @ $25/mo (grandfathered plan) but my phone is on its last leg so I need to purchase a new phone. if I upgrade and stay with Virgin Mobile, my plan will no longer be grandfathered in and my costs will increase to $35/mo for very spotty coverage and only 300 minutes. Therefore, I am making the switch to Republic and will have unlimited talk, better coverage (due to wifi access), and will be saving $25/mo! If you are interested in Republic, check out their facebook page where current members post their referral link to get $19 off when you sign up. I’m waiting for the Moto X in November. Good luck!

  • cheryl says:

    I have a droid. I’m not sure which one though:) I was also talked into purchasing a smart phone by my husband and now I use my phone a lot. We are property owners and our tenants call and text almost daily (we own 20 houses so a lot of people and issues to keep up with), I also get many texts from church for ministries I’m involved in and my 3 kiddos really prefer texting, they’re adults so I’m going to communicate the way I best get a response from them. So anyways I did need a good phone to text on with a keyboard as my fingers are clumsy…I also use my phone for navigation and as a camera. I have weather on my screen and a bible app which sends me a verse a day and I can use it for searching scriptures too. What I don’t use it for is games or social media or even for downloaded music. I just don’t want to be that connected to my phone. I have used my internet a few times when I needed to look something up. That was pretty convenient. I really like my smartphone. It’s a personal presence but I found my hubs was right and it’s been very helpful.

    • Sarah says:

      Wow! Crystal, can Cheryl here do a post on her real estate business? I’d love to know how you came to own and manage 20 properties. We have just one rental property.

      We signed on with Ting and got used android phones earlier this year thanks to a post by a reader on this site. We spend $30 a month for two phones. Love being able to check email and such – I spend much less time on the computer now.

  • Joy says:

    Not to mention that all those apps and games eat up memory or cloud storage. Nothing worse than trying to take a pic with your phone and there’s no memory because of too many apps.

  • michelle says:

    Love this! I recently cancelled my data plan, so I can only use my smartphone over Wi-Fi, and I am amazed at how much less I use my phone while I am out and about. Its amazing to realize how much I used to be on it!

  • Haley says:

    My husband and I both have smartphones, and our two oldest kids do as well. (They have unlimited texting, we share a bucket of minutes that we NEVER come close to and they only have wifi access, no data. Mu husband and I have unlimited data.)

    We are a nerdy family. We love our tech. We don’t have a home phone, so our phones are MUSTS for us. I also have a child with some extra challenges so I need to be in touch at all times.

    We use our phones on family hikes to geocache. My husband and I take a lot of photos of our kiddos which get automatically uploaded to Google+. That way my phone or microSD card can fail and my photos are still safe. We use the cloud for everything.

    I keep track of all our calendars. Each child’s activities are color-coded according to school colors. (See? Nerdy!) I love technology and enjoy finding ways to leverage it to benefit my family and keep us more organized.

    You will pretty much never see me without my phone. Going for a jog? I’m listening to music and Zombies, Run! In the van? It’s in the dock, ready for me to give a voice command.

    We have rules, too, though. No phones at the dinner table. Period. When the family is eating, you pay attention to your family. 🙂 I think there are valid reasons to keep your phone with you though. At church? Yep. My phone (and tablet) are my Bible. I have an app on my phone to automatically silence my phone during church. (Again…nerdy. See the thread here?)

    In my opinion, it isn’t the smartphone that’s the problem. It’s the lack of self-control. I found much more freedom in deleting my Facebook account than I ever could in turning off my phone.

  • Aghiles MITICHE says:

    Thanks for the article, I do have a smartphone and I like you use yours, cause sometimes you buy apps that, let’s say it, you don’t need and you find yourself with extra fees, so the way of using it is very important, and you made a good point.
    Best regards.

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