Have you ever just “unplugged” for a day, or even for a few hours? You know…put your phone away, turned off the TV, walked away from the computer…and just…lived in the present moment for awhile? Are you curious to know what might happen?
I like being connected to others…remotely…from my couch…via my phone.
I like always having something do turn to in case the slightest hint of boredom sets in.
I like looking like I have something REALLY important to read while I’m waiting for someone or something.
But I also know I’m not fooling anyone…myself included. I know that there is no substitute for being fully present–for removing all of the distractions and focusing on–and investing in–the people who are right in front of me.
So…I recently challenged myself and my coworkers from Bridges of Hope to spend some unplugged time with their families and friends over the course of an evening. Here’s what happened:
1. We did things we don’t usually do. Some of us spent time doing needlecraft and sewing; some of us played board games; and some of us read or spent time in face-to-face conversations. We missed phone calls and text messages…but none so urgent they couldn’t be answered later.
2. We experienced time differently. Some of us were really excited for the challenge…and others not so much. The evening seemed to fly by for some of us, and others of us marveled at how much more time they felt like they had. And a few of us honestly thought the time dragged a little. Some of our kids (or parents…or spouses…) complained at first…but most of them were eventually won over.
4. We connected…IRL! “I talked with my sister for an hour about her work and some of the challenges she’s been having. It was so nice to have a conversation without texts interrupting us!” It was also our anniversary that evening, so we shared some of our memories with our kids.” “If you do not make time to intentionally discuss the events and experiences in the daily lives of your family, you can miss out on so much.”
5. We thought about our priorities. “It was eye opening to me to realize how many times I thought about using my phone.” “I would like to do this more often–it’s a nice change.” “I would like to have a monthly or weekly media-free time with our family that is longer and pre-planned, with family activities and outings.” “We decided to have TV nights and non-TV nights in our family.” “It made me think about what kind of example I’m setting for my kids, if I can’t put my phone down for a couple hours to play with them and really give them my full attention.”
And do you want to know what else? We discovered that it was really, really simple. There was no added expense, no hidden fees, no contract to sign…but it was likely the start of an important investment with the potential for big returns.
So what about you? Want to take the challenge too? Here are a few resources that might help (and yes, the irony is that all of these are online/media resources):
A quick read on being present.
Tips on unplugging (from the people who came up with the National Day of Unplugging).
A two-minute video on how screens affect your brain at bedtime.
Track your smartphone usage with this app.
If you spend an evening (or more!) unplugged, let us know about your experience in the comments section!
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