Last night a smartphone saved my life.

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All right, it wasn’t last night. And it wasn’t even a one-day realization. And to be completely honest, it actually only saved my quality of life.

A bit over 18 months ago, I was deeply plugged in, at least to the second-by-second movement of real-time commodity trading. News, announcements, economic releases, and prices, prices, prices. I rocked the Blackberry and it had a name (Melissa), but I was mostly on the desktop. Five monitors, all beeping, flashing and buzzing.

It sucked. Chained to my desk.

So I left. ‘Unplugged’ I told myself, like that MTV show…but really, I just downgraded. Spent a couple months on the road and instead of buying one device, I bought four: flip-phone, netbook, GPS, Kindle. So not quite the ‘cold turkey’ method, but a downgrade.

But back in NYC, I needed to be plugged in, and I wasn’t going back to my old desk, so I needed to rethink my strategy. Doug had been giving me an earful about what a smartphone could do, so I armed myself with an Android. And I am never going back.

I am now the awful person reading news while I walk down the sidewalk. I am definitely the person than needs to look at Google Maps to get pretty much anywhere. I say things like, ‘let’s find out right now’. I try very hard not to look at it when I’m actually talking to a real person, but with only modest success.

These things do everything, and that is exactly what I need them to do. I’m arguably too plugged in again, but the thing is, I’m mobile now. And that makes all the difference.

I can be connected but not tied down. I can neurotically check for news, updates, emails, texts, restaurant reviews, shortcuts, DIY-tips, motorcycle pictures, blogs, tweets and tumbles…. but I can do it from anywhere.  (Incidentally, I can also get real-time commodity prices from anywhere, but I don’t want to anymore).

It doesn’t matter where I am, with this smartphone, this pocket computer, I can be effective anywhere. I can grab 5 minutes while I’m waiting to sit down at a restaurant, 10 minutes when I show up early for a meeting, an hour in Central Park while I’m trying to breathe fresh air.

To be fair, I still spend a lot of time on my computer. But I don’t feel tightening bands of pressure on my chest when I can’t get to it.

I think I could live without this phone. But I’m not sure and I don’t want to find out.


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