smartphoneWhile I do like to be able to check my e-mail whenever I want, smartphones have their downside. It turns out I do not actually like to be reachable and working all the time. I want to work when I work, and not work when I am not working.

I shut off e-mail on my Blackberry a few weeks ago, and have not missed it. While sometimes I like knowing if I am missing anything important, usually I am not. And even if I am, I am perfectly happy not knowing until I sit down to work. Besides, I am not usually far from a computer, if I need one.

It makes me consider giving up the smartphone entirely to go back to a regular old phone—maybe even a land line.

If you feel like you cannot get away from work, try shutting off your mobile e-mail for a while. After the initial shock, you might like it.

(photo: andyi)


  1. If Sam Glover goes back to a land-line, I’ll eat my shoe.

  2. Sam Glover says:

    I really want to, but I think it would drive me crazy.

  3. Sam, your posts raises the issue of who is the master — you or the technology? Just because we can check e-mail on a smartphone doesn’t mean we should. Just because the technology is available to do so doesn’t mean we need it. As with all things, it’s best to consider how you work and how the device fits in with your life. For some, the flexibility is very valuable. For others, keeping any sort of boundary between work and the rest of life becomes impossible. Choose wisely!

  4. I program my Blackberry to turn itself off at 9 PM. It wakes up at 7 AM.

  5. Chris___ says:

    I think Verizon’s charge for web access is five or ten bucks, and I’ve thought about switching from Blackberry (with it’s 30 dollar data access) to a non-smartphone w/ a good browser … when nearly all email is available through an http login, it seems dumb to pay 30 bucks to have a flashing red light showing that there’s unread emails……..

  6. When I recently left a large law firm, I left the Blackberry, too. Having just started my own practice, I do not want to pay for another Blackberry, and I don’t miss it one bit. I don’t travel much, so I nearly always have a computer available, and check email after dinner. While I didn’t always check it before, just hearing the buzz would distract me from whatever I was doing–possibly something important like reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, again–so I don’t think I will go back anytime soon.

  7. Chris Paul says:

    I’m using my blackberry as my office phone and I have been customizing my “system” a bit more each day.

    1) My office phone number is a google voice number. I can change what phone, if any, google voice forwards the call to and I can set it to do so at predetermined hours, giving me an automatic “night answer.” It also sends me an automatic transcription of any voicemails both as an email and an SMS text message.

    2) I made the BB stop buzzing for new emails.

    3) Having gotten tired of a buzz every 3 minutes, I put filters into by blackberry service so that my MSBA listserve messages are not sent to the blackberry.

    4) You can choose whether google voice shows the callers number or you google number when it forwards it to your phone. Right now I have the caller’s number, but I may change that so that I know when the call is a client or a potential client. The Google voice mobile app will provide quick access to the callers number in case the call is dropped.

    I don’t mean to sound like a cheerleader for google. Google voice does have some drawbacks. One of them is that there is a slight lag in the conversation. Milliseconds to be sure, but still noticeable. My point though, is that as you have said Sam, technology is only worthwhile if it makes your life easier and you can manipulate the technology to meet your needs even if that means that you are not using all features all the time.

    Now to unpack my new scansnap…

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