I Went Without My Phone For A Day And This Is What Happened

Contrary to popular belief, working in fashion and digital content isn’t all free beauty products and sipping champagne at fancy events. Nobody discusses the less glamorous side of things like having to write and edit photos till 4am because you have a deadline, never being able to switch off from work even while you’re on holiday and let’s not forget the tech malfunctions. OH, the tech malfunctions! If I had a penny for every time a memory card was corrupted, a laptop crashed, a camera battery died or a phone packed up before it was backed up, I’d be giving Beyoncé a run for her money right now (except that Beyoncé would never have a corrupt SD card).

True to form, my phone decided to develop a hot pink line right through the centre of the screen, and it was getting increasingly difficult to work around it. So I decided to take it in to the Apple store for a little TLC. Since it was under warranty, I was expecting them to give me a new phone straight away. However, they decided that it was best to replace the screen instead, which would “take about three hours or so”, I was told, casually. Uh, sorry? That was three whole hours of my day without a phone I had NOT anticipated at all. What on earth was I meant to do with myself without a phone? I mean, just the thought was positively ludicrous! I had a very important deadline that day and I always take them seriously  This man had to be joking, right? Right?

He wasn’t. Reluctantly I handed my whole life over to a stranger who clearly wasn’t of sane mind, and wondered out of the store more than a little bewildered. “Don’t panic. Do NOT panic. You’ve totally got this. You’re not addicted to your phone. You’re perfectly capable of spending three hours by yourself.” My pep talk game was strong, but the truth was, I had a phone addiction and I knew it. Like most millennials, I relied on my phone for everything, starting with my work – the most important. Its how I pay my bills. Which leads me to my banking and also my social life. Which is why I took a deep breath, collected myself and took this on as a challenge to see what I could do and how I got on without a phone. The real kicker was that I was trying not to shop very much, so staying far away from Primark when I had 3hrs+ to kill in town would be a real challenge. Especially when they stocked the brown teddy coat of my dreams. Anyway, here’s how I got on:

I Realized I was Well and Truly Alone

Sure, I may have been standing in the middle of the Arndale Centre at lunchtime, but for the first time in a long time, I felt alone. Normally, I’d have been able to text friends who live in the area to meet me for a coffee, but my phone was taken from me before I had a chance to moan to the group chat or post on Instagram stories about the fact that I was going to be AWOL for a whole three hours. Not having that connection to, my friends, family, husband or Instagram followers felt completely alien to me.

There Was No Going Home

I won’t lie, the urge to jump back on the tram and head back home to get some work done was very strong. I had a to-do list a mile long, but my tram ticket was on an app on my phone and I thought it would be wasteful to spend another £4.20 on buying a second ticket at the tram stop to come back later. Not to mention the additional hour of travel time it would take to go home and come back again. It just wouldn’t be worth it. But that was okay, because I had a plan!

I Put My Poor Geography Skills to the Test

I decided today was as good a time as any to visit The Elite Dress Agency. A treasure trove for fashion lovers, they sold pre-loved high end / designer clothing and accessories. I had visited their store in Altrincham and had always wanted to visit their bigger store on King Street in Manchester but had never got round to it. The tricky part was, however, that I didn’t have the address. All I knew was that it was on King Street. So I made my way to the top of King Street and when I didn’t see it and couldn’t Google the address or Google Map it because, hello, no phone, I thought the most logical conclusion would be to ask someone who worked in fashion to see if they knew where it was. So I popped in the Vivienne Westwood store, but none of the staff had heard of it. Instead, they pointed me in the direction of the Gotham hotel across the street, saying the concierge may be able to help. Sure enough, the concierge pulled it up on his desktop and told me it was at the other end of King Street, so I set off in the direction he pointed me in and after about ten minutes of walking, I actually found it! No Google maps! Just me (and the concierge and his computer, but whatever!) Phone addiction? What phone addiction? Who needed a phone? Not this girl!

I Had to be My Own Calculator

Confidence restored after finding the shop ENTIRELY on my own (ahem), I practically pranced in and felt like announcing to everyone present what I had just accomplished. But when I looked round and noticed that most women in the store were in a more mature age bracket, I bit my tongue doubting they’d understand the signifcance of going without my phone or what a big deal it was to a milennial with a phone addiction. Shuddering at the thought of stories about how they didn’t have them ‘in their day’, I busied myself with browsing instead. When it came time to try on my potential purchases, it was weird not to be able to send a photo to my best friend asking for her opinion or doing a Boomerang or a little poll on Insta stories asking my followers what they thought. The worst part, however, was when I was deciding what to buy and what to put back. Since I didn’t have my phone to use as a calculator and I’ve never been good at Maths, I grossly miscalculated the total of the products and had to awkwardly ask them to take a couple of items off the bill when I heard the total. All the while hoping the Chanel-clad matriachs shopping up a designer storm in the back hadn’t overheard.

I Spoke to a Stranger

I slunk out of the shop as quickly as I could following the whole unfortunate billing experience, thinking the longest three hours of my life must be up by now, surely. But how would I know? I hadn’t worn a watch that day as I wasn’t anticipating my phone being taken away, so I had to improvise. I asked a man smoking a cigarette round the corner if he had the time and he looked at me as if I had three heads. I had to apologetically explain that my phone was at the Apple store etc. etc, at which point he must’ve gotten tired of this flustered girl chatting a mile a minute while he was trying to smoke in peace, that he stubbed his cigarette out mid-way through, told me the time and walked off. AWK-WARD. And also a bit rude, but whatever. I didn’t have time to worry about that because what he told me worried me even more. Only an hour had passed since I handed my phone over, which meant: (a) I had a whole two more hours to fill with no phone and

(b) I Missed a Deadline

Again, I hadn’t anticipated not having a phone that day, and was so flummoxed when I was handing it over that the fact that I had agreed to post on Instagram for a brand at 1pm had completely slipped my mind. I had set an alarm on my phone to remind me, but, well, you know how the rest of this sentence goes. What you need to know about me as a person, however, is that this is a HUGE deal for me. I had never even missed a curfew as a teenager, let alone a deadline for a work assignment! Under normal circumstances, I’d have emailed to let them know and apolgized for being unprofessional, but since I didn’t have a phone, I didn’t have a choice but to shrug, let it go and deal with it later.

I Felt Liberated…Until I Didn’t Anymore

At this moment, I realised that I was the designer of my own destiny. Which is basically a dramatic way of saying that it dawned on me that one rarely gets three hours to themselves to do whatever they wanted without being constantly connected to their phone, chasing deadlines, making lists or posting to social media. And that I should use this time to relax. So I started to make my way back to the top of King Street, which was all well and good, till I remembered that walking around without music was no fun. I had my Airpods in my bag, but without my phone to listen to Spotify on, there was a big Drake-shaped whole in my life.

I Bought a Book

Somewhere along the way, a bookstore caught my eye and I thought “How perfect!”. I’d find myself a cute little coffee shop somewhere and dive into a delicious new book while I sipped a warm beverage. The whole setting would be rather quite Parisian. So in I went and bought myself a copy of Victoria Magrath’s (aka InTheFrow’s) book, ‘The New Fashion Rules‘. By this stage, I was quite famished and abandoned my search for a ‘cute’ coffee shop when I remembered my Cafe Nero loyalty card. Before I knew what, I had acquired a window seat and a White Chocolate Mocha. This was when I really struggled – did you even have a coffee if you didn’t post a flatlay of it to Instagram? Instead, I pulled out my new book and barely got through the introduction before a family with a screaming toddler occupied the table next to mine, and I couldn’t drown out the noise no mater how hard I tried. It didn’t help that I couldn’t put on any music to muffle the sound it either. Frustrated and really beginning to feel the withdrawl of my phone addiction, I gathered my things and made my way back into the cold wondering what to do next.

I Couldn’t Touch Up My Makeup

After my coffee, I decided it was time to touch up my lipstick. So I reached into my bag to fish it out when I realised I had also forgotten my trusty Chanel compact at home. Normally, I’d have just turned my phone’s selfie camera on and used that as my makeshift mirror. But without a phone or a mirror (or a bathroom nearby), I was forced to get creative and used everything I found with a reflective surface, from the lid of my concealer to my sunglasses. Alas, none of them worked and I hoped that my hand-to-lip muscle memory was good enough to not have me looking like a clown with lipstick smeared over her face as I walked down the street.

I Spent £50 I Wasn’t Planning To

By this point, the novelty of the situation had completely worn off and I was well and truly over it. I wanted my phone back but still had about 45mins to go, so I crossed the road thinking I’d kill some time in TK Maxx and Homesense as I never usually have the time to properly dig around for bargains in there. I ended up buying two picture frames and a plant pot, which if you add it to the book and the skirt I bought at Elite, not only made up the randomest shopping haul of all time, but £50 I really didn’t anticipate spending out of my monthly budget. Freaking fantastic. Thanks for nothing, Apple.

I Had to Rely on my Memory

Now around this time it struck me that if this phone addict documented her day without her phone, that it may make an interesting blog post. Normally, when I brainstorm ideas for posts, I write down the idea in my ‘Blog Post Ideas’ list in my phone’s Reminders / To-Do list app and all the key points to mention in that post in a seperate list of its own. However, since I couldn’t do that, I had to remember all the key points worth mentioning in this post and I’m happy to say I retained them pretty well. But as soon as I got my phone back, it was like spitting them back out onto the List app so I didn’t have to carry it around in my head anymore. What a relief!

I Got My Steps Up

I realised that if Apple had replaced my phone like I originally thought they would, that I’d have taken the first tram back home and parked myself in front of my laptop for the rest of the day. However, because I was suddenly left to my own devices without a plan, I was forced to think up a fun way to entertain myself sans technology and did a LOT of walking around Manchester as a result. I could tick my cardio off for the day, and that was a small win because WOOHOO no gym later, baby!

I Have No Relevant Images for This Post

So, in case you’re wondering, no this isn’t actually the outfit I wore on the day this went down. You see, I couldn’t use my phone camera to document my outfit on the day for obvious reasons and I hadn’t anticipated not having it that day so I didn’t carry my camera with me either. Hence I’ve had to use these pictures I shot a little while ago to accompany the text you’re probably tired of reading, so I’ll stop now.

To summarize, I learned that I could rely on my own devices (non-electronic, of course) to get me through in a sticky situation and that if I were prepared next time, I could easily go without my phone. I’d just need a bigger handbag to accommodate my camera, a day planner, a calculator and potentially a map, a compass, a book or magazine and a mirror. Whew! Would I do it again? Yes. Only because I’ve realised just how addicted to our phones we actually are and that it is important to go without them now and then. But I’d probably save it for the days when I was on holiday with not very much going on that I required my phone for anyway, than on a working day like today.

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without your phone and how did you get by? Share your story with me in the comments below


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Anushka Moore is a Manchester-based Digital Content Creator and Stylist at Smart Works Greater Manchester, where she empowers women to dress for success at interviews and jobs.

She is also founder of the widely celebrated Instagram Body Positivity movement, 'Midsize Collective'. Her work with Smart Works and Midsize Collective have been highlighted in publications and media institutions of repute such as The Telegraph, BBC Radio Manchester, WhoWhatWear and ELLE.

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