13:26 PM

My Experience Going Phone Free


When we introduced the “Phones Down for 5 Challenge,” I knew that I had to take the challenge myself. So, in early March, I put my phone down for five days so I could learn about my phone habits – positive and negative – and how being constantly connected impacts my life.

While there were plenty of laughable moments (the number of times I reached for my phone and it wasn’t there), frustrating moments (realizing we didn’t have a working flashlight in the house), and FOMO moments (staying on top of the news), I gained a new perspective about my relationship with technology and how it influences my relationships with everyone and everything else.

I started reading more, which is great, except I struggled with my attention span. I found myself struggling to stay focused for longer than 3-4 pages, and I realized that my phone had always served as a distraction… it’s something I didn’t even realize was happening. I’m now making a conscious effort to not seek out my phone when my focus wavers. I’m trying to focus on other things – and people – and hopefully I can get re-centered over time.

"We want this challenge to start a movement. Our mission is to connect people to what matters most, and sometimes that means focusing on what’s right in front of you"

I rediscovered my appreciation for all the things that have been made easier by having a smartphone. I was traveling for a portion of my phone-free time and doing that without a smartphone is HARD. I needed to print my boarding passes, ask people the time (I don’t wear a watch), and try to get around in an unfamiliar area without a map or an Uber. Then when I was home, we pre-planned the coordination for picking up my daughters from their various activities because I couldn’t just text when I arrived like I normally do. Smartphones have certainly made our lives easier in a positive and productive way.

Lastly, I realized it would’ve been great to take this challenge with other people. When I didn’t have my phone, I realized how much other people were using theirs. I’m sure I was annoying my family and co-workers with my “why don’t you put your phone away for a bit” comments, but I was also a bit annoyed by everyone walking around staring at their phone!

We want this challenge to start a movement. Our mission is to connect people to what matters most, and sometimes that means focusing on what’s right in front of you. I encourage you to take the challenge – even for 5 hours or just 5 minutes – with your household, your friend group or your colleagues. It can create extra motivation to complete the challenge and get your reset moment, and it also allows the opportunity to have meaningful moments together.

For me, I’m trying to be more present in everything I do and avoid the distractions I know are available on my phone. I’m focused on creating genuine connections, and the good news is that my phone can be a great tool for that. There are many positive things that come from our use of technology, but having the right balance is key.

I hope you’ll take the challenge and share what you learn along the way. Good luck!


Laurent "LT" Therivel
President and CEO of UScellular
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