Like it's 1999

April 16, 2014 - 4:14pm -- swingbug

I was five minutes away from the office this morning when I realized that I'd left my phone on my dresser.

It's not the first time I've left the house for work without my phone. Generally, I flip a U-turn and go back for it, but generally I notice before I've gotten more than a couple of miles away from home base. For most of society, our personal electronics have become an essential part of our daily apparel, haven't they? It's like leaving the house without pants. You notice.

This time I chided myself for the impulse. At that point, it would have cost me a half hour to double-back, and for what? Sure, I'm accustomed to having access to music and podcasts throughout my work routine, and it's common enough, I suppose, that I exchange a short text conversation with someone during the workday. Sometimes even with folks in the building with me. ("Are there bagels in the breakroom?" "Nope. Donuts." "Ug.") But my friends and family know not to actually call me while I'm at the office unless its serious. Anyone who might need to contact me with any sort of actual emergency either has my work number, or has the brains necessary to acquire it.

So why not experiment? Why not spend a day listening to the sounds of the office instead of what's on my headphones. When I go for my lunch break skate, I could listen to the birds. There is no real reason to have an app charting my total distance and velocity. I could do this, I reasoned.

It would be like camping.

So I proceeded about my day. Sure, I had numerous pleasant conversations with co-workers, but no more than usual. The sounds of the neighborhood were perhaps a little less motivating for my mid-day workout than my super-hero playlist would have been, but not cripplingly so. The day passed at regular speed and when I arrived home I had perhaps 3 or 4 personal emails that weren't spam to read through and no text messages. So no loss there.

Here's where it got tough though. In the middle of the day, several times I found myself reaching for my phone to convert units from English to metric. No phone. Ah, okay, well, I can use Excel for that. And how about a scientific calculator? Oh. Okay. Wolfram Alpha has a website. It's a few extra clicks, but no big; we're good here. And then my python coding manuals? Oh dear. Well, once I remembered my Packt log in and password combination, I could download them to my PC and conduct a search for the info I needed. A little time-consuming but doable.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Here I assumed that my phone served more as a distraction from my work day and what I found was that it was harder to literally work without it.

Next time I'll turn around.

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