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Going Phoneless

Life in the 21st century without a cell phone

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Tag: Google Voice
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Part of the equation that made going phoneless a reasonable possibility for me was the addition of Google Voice calling inside of Gmail. I have been using Google Voice for over a year, and I have been quite fond its voicemail transcription and SMS features. I can send and receive SMS messages for free from my Google Voice account, and if someone calls (and I don’t answer) their voicemails are transcribed and emailed to me!

The only missing detail, though, was the ability to make calls. But last month, Google added voice calling to Gmail. So now in addition to SMS and voicemails, I can make and receive phone calls, all from within a service I already use: email. (Okay, technically, I have to switch over to Voice to send an SMS.)

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And even better, the service is free, and calls made within the US are free. So if you’re not making international calls, there is no cost whatsoever. But if you do make international calls, the rates are still pretty good.

For most people, I believe that Google Voice could, on its own, completely replace their phone service. In a future post, I’ll talk about why it’s only 80% of the equation for me, and why Skype makes up the last 20% of my plan.

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Monday, I was informed that my work contract ends October 1. That means that right as I’ve been getting started with the adjustment to no cell phone, I have the added stress of trying to make connections and find new work. But I’m not going to let that shake me!

I’ve already found a hidden benefit. Over the last year or more, I’ve had a Google Voice phone number connected to my cell phone, and that’s the number I used on my resume, and in all job-related communication, etc. All of those hundreds of recruiters who call every day aren’t calling me directly, they’re calling via Google Voice.

And last week, I set Google Voice to never ring my phone.

You might be a little confused now, and wondering why I’m not taking calls from recruiters if I need a job. Here’s why: When you’re looking for work you post a resume, and then you get dozens of phone calls every day from recruiters who don’t really have jobs, but who need to fill “call time” quotas for their jobs… so they ask you tons of questions about your background and ask for your resume and promise to get in touch if they have something.

In other words, 90% of those calls are garbage, and if I answer them it becomes a huge waste of my time. But now, I never hear the phone ring, and my mood stays good. Google Voice emails me a transcript of their voicemail, and I can decide right away whether or not it’s worth it to call them back. (Over Skype.) But usually, they email too, so the whole phone thing becomes pointless.