Anyone who know me, knows I’m a technophile. I’m an instructional technology coach, a constant Twitter user, and podcaster. I Snapchat most of my life, text friends, have multiple active Voxer groups, and take tons of pictures of my son. My phone is in my hand constantly.
Last week, I popped into my friend’s office and started playing with these fortune card things. You shuffle the deck of cards and pick on that speaks to you. They’re really silly and sarcastic. I got this one:
Now, I hate baths, so all that stuff is garbage. But the idea of going somewhere and getting “unplugged” for a bit sounded like fun, especially since I already had plans to go to the beach for the weekend with my fiance and a couple friends of ours. I reached out to them and suggested that we make Saturday a Disconnected Day, turning our phones off when we woke up in the morning and not touching them until the next day when we wake up.
I thought it would be a struggle, that I would go through withdraw symptoms of sorts, but I didn’t. Sure, for the first hour or so I kept instinctively reaching for my pocket as if I would find my phone there, but after that it was wonderful.
I found that without my phone, I was more present in the day. We had to talk to each other, and actually pay attention. We talked about topics without immediately jumping to our phones to find the exact details and “prove” things. We played card games instead of video games. We read physical books instead of Reddit posts. We sat on the beach and enjoyed the waves and sand instead of framing the perfect picture.
Those were all the things I expected. What I didn’t expect was how clear it made my mind. Normally, my mind runs a thousand miles a minute in 4 or 5 directions. I’m always thinking about the next thing, or some project I need to finish. Rarely do I find that my mind is quiet. That’s productive for me, it works. I thought that given a day without the outside distractions of my phone, I would solve problems that had been plaguing me or have creative inspirations and new ideas.
Throughout the day on Saturday though, I regularly found myself not thinking. I was just experiencing the moment, enjoying the company, and being content.
I highly recommend the experience to everyone. We are so constantly bombarded by signals and information, and while I advocate for that level of connection the majority of the time, the value of getting away from it from time-to-time shouldn’t be dismissed.
I, for one, am going to start doing disconnected days once a month. I will be announcing it on twitter the day before each time and encouraging people to join me. Or, pick your own disconnected day.
To help, I’ve made a quick document to give you the rules and agreement. You can use it with a group of friends and spend the day enjoying each other’s company and the world around you.