It’s great that we all have a device in our pocket that is as powerful as our current computers. But, it also leads to a terrible work-life balance if you are using it for work, so what are your options?

Setting up a separate work phone

A few years ago I realized that I didn’t really like having so much of my work life intertwined with my personal life on my phone. Wondering about solutions, I ended up buying a separate phone for work and it has been one of the best things I’ve done. Now I can use it at work, and at the end of the day throw it on a charger and forget about it until the next day.

As for service, I buy a year’s worth from Tracfone for around $9/month.

Buying a phone

I went to Swappa to buy a used phone. I didn’t need the latest and greatest, just something that worked decently. Since I normally carry an iPhone, I wanted to get a Android phone so I could better support others and ended up getting a Samsung S8 for $200 in the fall of 2019. At the time it was a 2 and a half year old phone, but it’s still going strong 3 years later. If you go looking now, the Samsung S10 is ~$130 while an iPhone X series phone is around $175. When looking, you’ll want to get an unlocked phone so you can easily use it on any network.

Over the Christmas break, I decided to upgrade my phone. I looked on Amazon and they had a Moto G pure for 50 bucks on TracFone. I’ve got it and I’ve been using it for the past few weeks, and it’s not a bad phone. The cameras really good and it’s got a nice bright screen. The performance is soso, but I’m comparing it to my iPhone 14 Pro, so most phones are going to seem slow compared to it.

What about service?

Whether you need cellphone service or not depends on a few different factors. One is the availability of WiFi. If your district allows your phone on your network then that removes one reason for service. You can set up your phone using Google Voice for calls and texts and use WiFi for connectivity. This does mean that if you’re not on WiFi your phone will be kind of worthless.

One reason to buy service is that you will get a phone number that you can use for texting or calling that is separate from your personal number. Although I do have cellphone service on my phone, I use Google Voice for calls and texting. Google Voice also has the advantage of being able to use it from your computer.

My service is cheap enough that it’s worth it to me to be able to use my work phone in places where I don’t have wifi.

Using The Phone

If you are a Google school, you can sign into the phone with your school Google account but I would not do that. Not only does this opens up the phone to full access from your Google administrator at your school district it may limit what applications you can install. The first isn’t that big of a deal because we’re only using this for school, but the second could be a deal breaker. For those reasons I would recommend you create a private Google account to use to set up the phone and install apps and sign in as a secondary Google account to your school account. If your school district isn’t a Google school district, then this is a moot point and you’ll have to use a personal Google account anyway.

Throughout this article I’ve been talking as if you’re going to have an android phone as your second phone, but that might not be the case. If you do buy an iPhone, then I would recommend you setting up a different Apple ID for the phone instead of using your personal Apple ID. This way all of your text messages from your personal account are not going to be intermingled on your work device. This also separates the backups of the device from your personal Apple ID.

If you bought service or not, I would still recommend setting up a Google voice account that you would use for work purposes. Google Voice gives you an easier way of printing out text messages, just in case you are in a situation where your text messages are being requested. It also allows you to make calls or text from your computer.

Closing thoughts

I have really enjoyed having a separate phone for the past few years. At the end of the day I can just shut off my work phone and not have to worry about getting dragged into things that are not time sensitive. It’s also nice that all of the pictures I take it to school or work that I do at school is separate from my personal stuff. All of my messaging is now separate too, so those dad jokes can go to my daughter now and not been seen at work.

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