I am attempting to incorporate a few more healthy habits into my life. Tired of feeling sluggish and spending hours on the couch, last week I heard someone talk about going screen-free for a day, and I thought, YES. This is the perfect habit to introduce into my life. Spend a whole day with no computer, iPad, iPhone, tv or Kindle. Good for my eyes, my brain, and for my ability to procrastinate like there’s no tomorrow. So Sunday, I went screen-free for the first time. It was sort of tough, but sort of not. Here’s why.
the tough bits
I have been known to sit on the couch watching tv, laptop going, and phone in hand, completely unable to just focus on doing one thing at a time. So throughout the day I kept reaching for my phone with almost every thought that popped into my head. Wonder what the weather will be tomorrow? I need to book into that gym session. What’s on tv tonight … wait, I can’t watch tv tonight …
I feel like I am a pretty impatient person. And I’m definitely not the only one. Part of the problem, I think, is we rarely have to wait for things anymore. There’s 24/7 instant gratification to be accessed on every smartphone. I don’t have to wait for the 6pm news because everything is right there on my phone. Banking can be done on the go and appointments can be booked. I can be in touch with everyone I know at the touch of a button. So suddenly not having access to those things was hard. At least for a while.
Luckily I spent part of my first screen-free day out shopping (had I been home all day I might have gone crazy). Once I got home I was faced with a very quiet house and an afternoon where I couldn’t waste away the weekend watching reruns of whatever I can find. And lo and behold, I found myself being productive in order to pass the time. I went grocery shopping and made sure I leisurely strolled through the aisles making considered purchases. When I got home I cooked a few meals for the week. After making myself a healthy smoothie, I relaxed on the couch for a little while reading a book. I did my Spanish homework and used my head rather than the dictionary app I usually rely on. Then, I took the time to make a healthy dinner and flicked through this month’s marieclaire. My night ended with a facial and some meditation. I got so much done! And best of all, when I went to bed, I felt super chilled out.
I thought I would be more even more productive to be honest. The night before I was thinking about how much I could get done – like cooking, and reading and also extra Spanish studying, and pulling out a few craft projects that have sat idle for months. I also thought at the same time that I would be bored and actually not achieve anything. And the reason I thought that was because I often say I will do these sorts of things on the weekend and then don’t because the lure of surfing the web and watching tv sucks me in every time. So maybe because I had completely committed to being screen-free meant I was able to accept that I would need to fill in my day with other activities.
I also thought that my day would be really “mindful” in that I would be able to enjoy one thing at a time and really focus on the task at hand. But instead I realised that the habit of looking at social media while watching tv and eating dinner meant that I tried to find other things to compensate. For example, if you look carefully at my list of things above, most are pairs.
Most surprising of all was I thought I would feel really cut off being away from social media. I have serious FOMO and check my accounts several times an hour at times. But I actually felt strangely good knowing I didn’t have to reply to any messages or check if anyone liked my Instagram photo. It was really peaceful!
It’s a keeper. I want to try and schedule screen-free time every week – ideally for a full day over the weekend and even after work for at least one night a week. While it clearly didn’t cure my need to do two things at once, I am hoping that will slowly change. Trying to be more mindful and practicing that every day should help me to focus on what I am doing in the moment, one thing at a time, rather than trying to distract myself with lots of other things.
I would love to know if anyone else out there is going screen-free for a day (or longer!). How do you find it? Leave me a comment below!