I lost my iPhone for 36 Hours & Here’s What I Learned

"That stinks that’s the worst ha-ha."

"Damn, I’m sorry to hear that man"


"Oh wow, that blows bro"

"Hey man, I'm sorry man, that is a shame."

5 responses from 5 friends. It’s true, utter despair was the first feeling I had. But I learned a lot in these 36 hours. I learned I need less iPhone’ing in my life.

Normally I would’ve been PISSEDDDD

I got off the subway at my friend's place in Forest Hills, Queens, New York and opened up google maps to figure where I needed to make rights and lefts to get to his apartment. It was raining so I checked quickly, stowed my phone on my person and started to jog. About halfway there I noticed I didn’t feel my phone, I did one of these

I traced my steps all the way back to the subway, nothing. On the way back, nothing. It was night and raining so I had hope that it would survive a few moments alone on the sidewalk, but nope, nothing. So I went on to my friend's apartment, instantly accessed Find My iPhone and saw my phone was already in Manhattan, which basically means that someone scooped it and instantly hopped on an express subway because there’s no way they would have been there in under 25 minutes.

I signalled through Find My iPhone, texted, called, all ignored and clicked off; whoever scooped it up clearly had no intention of returning the phone. In the past this is a situation that no doubt would’ve really pissed me off, I mean my iPhone is my life. Sadly this wasn’t my first experience with a stolen or M.I.A. iPhone so I knew, I ain’t getting it back.

I had been working frantically for a few weeks at this point, probably looking at my phone hundreds of times a day. My mind was constantly racing, I was exhausted in every way and frankly, quite stressed. So I said to myself – and my friend – you know what? This is actually f*cking great. The next day was Wednesday and a day I had earmarked for head down work time, so I thought, not having my phone to check every 3 minutes was probably a good thing – the universe just did me a favour.

Here's what I learned from this forced iPhone detox.

Less Distractions 


Collectively, Americans check their phones 8 billion times a day. 8 freaking billion! Checking the Screen Time in settings on my iPhone I saw that on an average day I get a ~500 notifications a day, pick up my phone ~170x a day and spend at least 4 hours a day on “screen time.” So, yeah, less is probably an understatement 😊

Physical Relief


I notice at times, a lot of times actually, how worn out my right hand can be after using my phone all day. It feels like it’s been fried all day, just shot. Not having my phone glued to my trigger (right) hand all day, my hand just felt better. I also just felt overall physically relieved – I had less physical anxiety – I didn’t fidget or move unnecessarily as much.

Mental Calmness


See less distractions above. Not hearing or seeing notifications on my phone, not picking it up and not constantly shifting my headspace from email to text to whatsapp to whatever app I’m using, gave me an unusual sense of calm. My mind wasn’t racing or scattered, it was at peace.


More Productive


Less distractions and a calmer mind, and I was way more productive. Hard to quantify how much more than usual, but overall it was just easier to get things started and completed.


More Face time


Nope, not Steve’s FaceTime, but with co-workers and friends. I was more engaging, had more conversations and even looked strangers in the eyes and smiled on sidewalks. I was just a nicer person.


I started meditating on the subway


I ride the subway essentially daily and generally, I’m plugged into my phone either listening to a podcast or music, doing some work, dicking around on an App, etc. No phone, no distractions. I found that with the ~40 minutes I spend a day on a subway, I had all this found free time. Thomas Friedman wrote a book called Thank You for Being Late and he noted that he appreciates when people are a few minutes late to meetings because it gives him the time he didn’t expect to have. I have been forever trying to implement a meditation practice of some kind, but I haven’t always been consistent with it. These new ~40 minutes gave me time to just close my eyes and focus on darkness. Even now being phone’d up again, I’ll still meditate about half the time.

Then, life happened again.

I got an insurance replacement phone 36 hours later on Thursday afternoon. Loving my new life, I actually waited until night to activate it to hold on to my temporary reality for oh just a wee bit longer. That night, I got home, ate, went to the gym and then went to activate my phone. Because it was stolen, my carrier had a bunch of issues with activating it, and yeah, it took me over 2 hours to get it all set up. And just like that, my life was back to normal.

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