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The silent life of living on WiFi alone

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Can a plugged-in, heavy data user survive four weeks on WiFi alone? LIRON SEGEV took up the challenge from Ruckus WIreless, and discovered it was not as easy as it sounds.

Guess whose back ? Back online, that is. I took up a challenge from Ruckus Wireless to spend four weeks connecting to the internet only via WiFi Hotspots. I am now back to join the connect-from-anywhere mobile world, and deeply relieved.

So what did I discover on the Ruckus WiFi Challenge? Both about myself and about the world of WiFi hotspots?

1. It is ok

I discovered that it was acceptable not to respond to every e-mail the second it arrived in my mailbox. There were days when I could only reply to e-mails hours later. What I saw was a new phenomenon people were able to help themselves. When someone e-mailed me and did not receive an immediate reply, they usually sent a follow up e-mail hours later saying ‚”ignore previous mail I managed to sort it‚”. This happened repeatedly. It has become too easy to tick something off the “To Do List”” with a ‚””I e-mailed and waiting feedback‚””. In my case, when there was no reply, the sender managed to make make alternative arrangements and help themselves.

2. There is no real emergency

‚””ASAP‚””, ‚””Right not‚””, ‚””Urgent‚”” these are such over used phrases and terms. When I was not contactable via digital means, those so called emergencies vanished. In the case of a real emergency I was contactable by phone. Compared to Emergency Urgent emails I received during the month prior to the challenge, I noticed a distinct lack of emergencies that occurred when I was not available 24 hours a day. Was there really a decline in ASAP matters, or perhaps there were no real emergencies?

3. Just one e-mail

Knowing that I could not be reached again via e-mail for a while, I tended to give more information in the first mail to avoid the unnecessary back and forth. So, instead of e-mailing: ‚””Please refer this matter to Jo‚”” I reworded it to ‚””Please refer this matter to Jo (his number is XXX), and should he not be available speak to Peter, (his number is XXX). In the event where no one is around, call the reception on XXX.‚””

4. More time and managed time

Not being connected all the time meant that I had to really plan my day. While this caused some stress, over time I managed to find my usual hangout spots where in more cases than none, Internet was available. AlwaysOn was a life saver on many many occasions.

When I finally reached a hot-spot, my computer downloaded all correspondence. I found that when I dealt with a batch of e-mails, I managed to get through them much faster than I do when I get them one at a time.

What I also discovered was that not being distracted by the phone’s constant beeps gave me more time to think too.

5. Keep me OUT of the loop

When it came to business, this is where I had to plan. I set proper processes and procedures that effectively meant I was no longer the ‚””blocker‚”” of information flow, but people could make decisions without involving me. Originally these processes were temporary however I see no reason to revert back to the ‚””keep me in the loop‚”” mentality

So in summary

When I told people about the challenge I was met with two distinct reactions. The first was from people who have Internet access on multiple devices all the time. They said that it can not be done and that I would battle to cope running a business with such limited connectivity. The second reaction was from people who don’t have regular Internet access and they were confused as to what the challenge actually was they only connect at WiFi hotspots or public libraries.

It was an interesting realisation as to what some people take for granted and others see as a luxury. Being able to connect via a smartphone or via 3G dongle is just a basic day to day activity for some, and for others is an over-the-top extravagance.

I started out the challenge like someone who is going through rehab. I knew that temptation in the form of connectivity and its glorious information is just a small data on tick away on my mobile phone.

I resisted. It was hard at first, but by week two, I realised that I was so consumed by constant data and the need to react that I had to reprogram my brain to relax, which then allowed me to see new things around me. These included great business opportunities.

Just like all things in life everything in moderation is good. Overdo it, and life passes you by. And all you’ll do is Instagram and tweet about it.

I used to panic about not being connected, but this Ruckus WiFi challenge has taught me to relax – we are never too far away from a decent connection and a decent cup of coffee too.

* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog at http://www.thetechieguy.com or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev

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