If I don't want to be bothered by unimportant calls, I launch the Google Voice app and enable do not disturb.
If I permanently want certain numbers, or unknown numbers to go straight to voicemail permanently, I set it up. I don't hear a ring. I get a push notification if they leave a voicemail.
If Google Voice isn't your cup of tea and you have an iPhone, use iOS's Do Not Disturb feature. You can enable it either manually via a switch, or on a time period basis. You can set exceptions for no one, or for your favorites, or for specific contact groups.
The funny thing is, I willfully refrain from using my smartphone in public or when in groups of whenever possible. I'm commonly the only parent at a park that is playing with their kids and doesn't have their face buried in their smartphones doing god knows what. This is causing me to question whether a smartphone plan is worth it as I use so little data when out and about. So I'm pondering going with some cheapo prepaid options.
Edit: Check out the below reply from ericdykstra for a similar solution for Android.
You can whitelist everyone in your contacts, blacklist all restricted numbers, or go down to individual numbers and just never see calls from spam callers. You can even set up schedules (only accept calls from my close family between 10pm and 6am, for example).
Is it available everywhere now?
Then, email worked so surprisingly well that I just dropped the idea.
It's improved my work/life balance immensely, as my work can't call/email me whenever they like.
The only time it's annoying is (as the article says) when you're trying to meet up with friends and are not immediately and conveniently contactable.
Being that most people spend ~$60/mo on a plan, I've saved right on $6000 - which certainly helped finance my 2 year drive from Alaska to Argentina, and other periods of not working full time to do as I please.
It's crazy when I'm out with friends and they all turn into zombies looking through their smartphones, for up to 10 minutes at a time.
I don't ever want to have a cell phone again.
This month a video went viral about the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINa46HeWg8 (I Forgot My Phone). So true.
I forget to mention the money! My plan was about 50€, too...
After a year, I regularly talk to my wife and other people via email or Messages.
Both are a lot less invasive than your cell phone ringing.
The infrastructure that dealt with people on the move trying to communicate (phone booths, equipped with directories) has diminished substantially. People are not going to borrow you their phone to make calls when you need to and when you break a leg in the basement at night you'll wish you had one no matter where the nearest functioning phone booth is located.
No phone, or wired phone is a world that has largely gone by.
I've stayed away from smartphones so far because of 2 things:
- battery life
I like to be able to use my phone when I really need it (as a phone) and feature phones still beat smartphones handily in this department.
Second big issue, security is maybe a bit paranoid but I can't imagine that carrying what amounts to a full fledged linux machine in my pocket without even so much as a basic insight in what is going on under the hood or a sysadmin to go with it is responsible use of the data on the phone.
It helps that I know my way around and that in the car I have a tom-tom for navigation. Going without a cell phone is foregoing convenience without any upside. You could get all of the upside by simply buying a phone and keeping it charged and in your pocket, and in many countries even a 'dead' phone will allow you to call the emergency number. (I assume you can get one without a sim card from a friend for free).
If I don't want to answer a call, I don't answer it the first time they call; if it's really an emergency, they'll leave a message or keep calling back. I only give out my Google Voice number, so I get transcriptions of voicemail, and I can silence groups of people, or only permit certain groups of people to call me at a given time.
If I want to talk to someone, I call them, and trust that they won't answer if they don't want to talk. It's absurd for me to be expected to work out whether it's a good time for a call or not, as I don't know their schedule, just like it would be absurd for me to expect anyone else to know my schedule and try to make decisions for me on whether I want to be called or not.
I've had several friends who have quite a bit of anxiety about making and receiving phone calls, religiously answering every call and stressing about whether or not it's acceptable to call others. I might be a bit idealistic, but this seems like the simplest solution to me, with the people who have the most information making local decisions for themselves.
I used to have a hammer and beat myself on the head with it. Now I don't have a hammer and everything is better.
Being a web developer, I used to get a lot of calls from clients, so much that it got to be hard to work for me.
I remember looking into that and I'd have killed to get it, but it was only available in the U.S...
Other option is to keep two phones, one personal, one private.
But then people started saying that I was either not reachable or I ignored them.
I didn't get rid of my cell phone on purpose, just used the fact that it broke to not get another one, and it just works great for me.
The real problem here is that the people contacting you do not respect your desire to not be on-call 24/7. In my opinion, this lack of respect is good enough reason to not feel bad about ignoring them. Put your phone on mute and stop letting inconsiderate people push you around. Or just continue not having a phone because that works too.
I probably didn't care about them, but I do care about keeping good work relationships.
I'm totally reachable. I have email, and Messages. The thing is just that I can decide when to check them, and they're less invasive.
I always make sure to disable the auto-away setting in all chat/IM programs so it always shows me as online, and then I explain to everyone that since the program is not smart enough to know for sure that I am available, I prefer to avoid the confusion.
With phones I follow a similar philosophy: I make sure to avoid answering it all the time, I let it run out of battery, or in Silent mode, or I leave it at home, etc. and I'm very vocal about having done so.
I don't know if this makes me antisocial, but it seems to work fairly well in removing other people's expectations (except with my dad heh).
If they called me to see if I knew their password and I didn't help them they'd feel stuck, now they just go in their inbox, find it themselves, and go on with their lives without emailing me, which ultimately doesn't piss them off.
Before, I just couldn't handle the amount of calls and sometimes I just wouldn't even call back if I thought it wasn't important, then people would have to call me back to finally try to solve their problem. Now, I always reply to my email, so in this case, too it's better for them.
Works for me. I use the standard iOS features to make sure important callers (eg. the children's school) can get through.
The trick to getting this to work is to be consistent. Don't tell people you are not reachable and then pick up their calls.
Returning family calls, on the other hand...
I'm in Italy, and it wasn't just family and work, but all kind of random people... People don't like to use email, here, so they call you for anything (like your bank, landlord, whatever).
Also, then don't trust email: the thing that annoyed me the most was that the rare times they chose email, they would also call me to let me know they had sent me an email, to make sure I'd read it...
Nobody calls me. It's great. They can, but they don't. I have everyone trained. Emails or texts.
I had a prepaid for awhile that I'd use only to make outgoing calls from. Now I have an iPhone that I mostly use for listening to music, no data plan. People can call me now, but they don't. GVoice is enough of a pain in the ass to them that they avoid it. I tell people I wish Apple would let me integrate it but secretly I wish they never do.
For instance in google hangouts, their icon shows where they last read in the conversation.
This puts an added level of responsibility as you can no longer use any excuses that you didn't see it etc
Being able to send an email from a phone is common now, so I imagine this might be a possible 'free ride'.
His troubles could be solved by not sharing his private number to people he does not want him calling. Like his professional contacts. Just switch numbers and don't share the new one.
He mentions he can focus on a conversation rather than play on his cell - but owns an iPad. Not sure what his issue really is.
Life without a cell phone is awesom until you need it. Like when you have an emergency and need to call for help. Mobile phones have saved countless of lives. Be it to call for help for yourself or for someone else in need - without leaving them alone to find a goddam phone.
Next up: Life without arms.
I looked into having a private number, but from other people's experience your number always gets shared. You might give it to 1 person for some reason and you end up with everyone knowing your number.
Also, if someone asks for your number how can you say you don't want to give it to him?
I've long had this prob. with getting interrupted by calls.
Again, people would get mad that I ignored them, or that I wasn't available.
Somehow, since you don't have a cell phone they don't get offended or complain (I'm talking about clients in particular).
I find this interesting.. I don't have an expectation that someone is always going to answer their phone... that's what voicemail is for. I also don't give the expectation that I will answer my phone on every ring the first time.
Do you need a web app? :-)
That's one of the reasons my voicemail makes excuse for not picking up.
"Hi, I'm probably in a meeting or driving at the moment. If you call back between X and Y, then I should be available, or, if you prefer, you can send a text or email. Else, leave a message after the beep. Thanks! ^_^"