Disclaimer: Yes, I realize the irony of talking about unplugging oneself from the internet via a medium fueled by the internet, but bear with me here.
The majority of my waking hours involve staring at a screen of some kind. At work, I stare my computer. During breaks, I read books on my phone through the Libby app. At home, I’m normally doing some mix of working on the computer for this business, watching TV, reading or just messing around on my phone. Most of the day is spent just staring at some back lit screen consuming content and I’m not alone. According to the results of a Q1 2018 Nielsen study, Americans spend on average 11 hours/day interacting with media devices.
While I find it absolutely amazing that we all carry around computers that are 100x faster than the first computer my family all had to share 20 years ago, sometimes our brains need a break from the back lit screens and ever flowing content.
This past weekend, my wife and I went away to celebrate our anniversary. We decided shortly after our wedding that we did not need another reason to get gifts and would always take a weekend trip to remove ourselves from daily life and take intentional time for us.
This idea is the best gift we’ve ever given ourselves. All in all, there’s nothing too exciting about these trips. We pick somewhere within a day’s drive, stay in an air bnb and spend our time reading, playing cards, talking, hiking and eating great food (it’s the one part we splurge on). I love these trips more than anything. They let us hit the pause button to reset our minds and our relationship as a couple.
Even more importantly, this has helped me to see multiple benefits from taking a break from technology.
Being More Present
How often have you been speaking with someone and all of a sudden, they pick up their phone? Most, if not all of us are guilty of doing this, as well as being on the receiving end. I know that I am. Being in an area with no service means that using your phone or computer just isn’t an option.
What I’ve found time and again is that when we remove these distractions, we become more present in the moment. The conversation with a friend or spouse becomes the only thing that’s happening and we actually pay attention to it. Taking in every word and actually engaging with just that person.
It may not sound like much, but real connection happens in this way. It becomes intentional and not just incidental.
Ideas Are Everywhere
When I’m not consuming content, I find that my mind quiets in order to actually create content. A few weeks ago, we went camping and I took a walk in the morning before anyone else had woken up. During that walk, I wrote down more ideas for posts, marketing and my coaching programs than I had in weeks.
When the distractions are removed, we give ourselves room to actually think. I never really believed this concept until I experienced it for myself. I figured that I needed to be a consumer of content in order to become inspired. While that may be true in part, I never allowed myself the mental space to build on the content I was consuming.
Almost everything on social media these days shows someone else’s highlights reel. Looking at this stream of amazing trips, achievements and good news from others can make anyone feel that their day to day life is nothing compared to someone else’s. Removing this constant barrage of staged happiness can provide perspective and allow for the positive aspects in our own lives to shine through.
Wrap It Up!
As you go into the long weekend, take the time to put the phone and laptop away to give yourself a mental break and reconnect with the ones you love. Who knows? You might just create space to have your next best idea.
Happy Labor Day weekend All!
When is the last time you put the phone away? What did you find out about yourself when you did? Let me know in the comments below!