Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Rachel Jonat at The Minimalist Mom
It seemed like a ridiculous idea to a lot of my friends and family.
For a week I was going to avoid screens, both televisions and computers, and not use a cell phone.
The reason: I wanted some space from technology and constant electronic communication. I wanted to reset my need to check my email, my dependance on technology for entertainment and a chance to step away from the white noise of television and the Internet.
It was an eye-opening experience and I’ve learned some valuable lessons from disconnecting.
Great Sleep is Free
My week offline was filled with early bed times and restful sleep. I put my son to bed between seven and eight o’clock and then read for an hour or two. I fell asleep much faster than I usually do as my body and mind were ready for bed.
I’ve known for years that watching a screen in the evening, be it a television or computer, interrupts the natural rhythm of my body readying itself for sleep. This experiment just reinforced to me that I need to make screen free evenings a daily habit rather than an occasional one.
Great and plentiful sleep is not only vital to my health but greatly affects my mood. I’m a happier mother and wife, a more prolific writer and the best version of myself when I get good sleep. I also have a young child so when I get the opportunity for uninterrupted sleep I need to take it – not give it away for an evening of Mad Men episodes.
A Lot of “Urgent” Information is White Noise
My husband was traveling while I was on my digital sabbatical. Normally I would check his flight status and look for email updates from his layovers. Worrying about his travels, if he made a connection, if his flight landed safely, would occupy my thoughts for the day.
Without access to all of this supposedly urgent information, I went about my day as normal. I was engaged in my activities and the people around me instead of having my thoughts filled with flight times, time zone math and checking for updates.
Ironically, my husband had a difficult journey and got food poisoning on a trans-Atlantic flight. I was filled with sympathy for him when he landed safely and told me his tale of woe. But I was also thankful I hadn’t heard about it ten hours earlier via email or Skype. I would have spent my time worrying and fretting about his illness when there was nothing that I could about it.
So much of what we now concern ourselves with is what-ifs. With so much information and ways to communicate at our fingertips we are free to let our time and energy be consumed with thoughts about a lot of things we can’t control. Things that have no bearing on our day-to-day activities or long-term happiness.
After a week offline I feel a renewed commitment to limiting the white noise in my life and taking a step back from social media and constant electronic communication.
24 Hours Are Enough
So often I hear the phrase, the day is just too short. If only the day was 30 hours, instead of 24, we would do all of those things we say are really important to us but that we don’t have time for.
As soon as I went offline I found the time and motivation to get up early and go for a run. I’ve been inconsistent with my exercise in the last few months but during my week of being offline I ran or lifted weights most mornings before breakfast.
It wasn’t that challenging. I was well rested and woke up early ready to start my day. I wasn’t distracted by checking my email or a website first thing in the morning.
I also took better care of myself. My legs were shaved, I flossed and I did all those personal care items that a parent of a young child often skips because they don’t have a lot of time to themselves.
There is enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do. I just have to put the things that really matter, the things that give back to me and others, ahead of mindless internet surfing, television and text messaging.
My week offline was nourishing and a wonderful way to reset.
I’m now taking at least one day completely offline every week, checking email less frequently and doing more of the things that I love but struggle to find the time for: reading, writing and working out.
Rachel Jonat writes about a rich life with less stuff at The Minimalist Mom. She is a Canadian currently living in the Isle of Man, a rocky windswept island in the middle of the Irish Sea.
If you need with a big unplug, consider Make Time, a lovely course starting on May 7th.