Think back to the last time you left home without your phone. Did you go back to get it or were you able to carry on without it?
I can’t remember the last time I left home without my phone. Smartphones are incredible tools that allow us to carry our entire lives in the palm of our hands. I can’t imagine going back to a life without priceless apps like Google Maps, Evernote, Weather, and countless others.
As life changing as this technology is, we can’t deny that there’s a downside. The availability of information can be addicting. If we’re not careful, we can lose large portions of our day to screens. Not only are these screens stealing our time, but they have the potential to rob us of our most important connections.Not only are screens stealing our time, but they rob us of our most important connections. Click To Tweet
In her talk, How Social Media Makes Us Unsocial, Allison Graham shares statistics from a 2001 Gallup Poll in which the average American reported having ten really close friends. In 2014, the results from that same poll dropped to two. She suggests that the reason is that when we’re physically together, we continue to bury our faces in our screens. This inadvertently sends the message that the people on the other end of our screen are more important than the people we are with.
I’m not saying that technology and social media aren’t powerful tools. I’ve made a lot of great connections online. I’ve also enjoyed reconnecting with long-lost classmates and family.
But these are tools. They’re not substitutes for connecting in real life. Now more than ever, we need to take time away from them so that we can reconnect.Technology is a tool, not a substitute for connecting in real life. Click To Tweet
My husband, Jer, and I learned this early in our careers after he was written up for not answering his cell phone and coming into work while out of town on vacation. We learned that we needed to get off the grid if we wanted time to reset and connect. This meant leaving the country or heading to remote areas of wilderness where there was no cell phone reception.
A lot has changed over the years, but we still look forward the opportunity to disconnect.
Earlier this year, Jer and I enjoyed a mini-vacation at our favorite winter retreat to celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary. Upon arriving, we agreed to put our phones in airplane mode. The only exceptions were to check the weather and watch YouTube while working out.
If you’re used to always being connected, turning everything off might seem scary. What if something happens?
Throughout the fifteen years that we’ve been disconnecting, there was yet to be an emergency. But I understand how that can be a concern. Don’t hesitate to leave the name and number of where you’ll be staying.
If you’re new to this, you don’t have to disconnect all at once. You can start with one day or every day after a certain time. Once you begin to feel more comfortable, you’ll enjoy the following benefits.You don’t have to do it all at once. Start with one day or try every day after a certain time. Click To Tweet
More Free Time
It never ceases to amaze me how much more time we have when we disconnect.
During our anniversary trip, we got up each morning before sunrise to enjoy fresh ground coffee and light reading before our AM yoga class. Then we hit the gym and relaxed in the outdoor pool and hot tub. After that, we still had a full day to hike, read, cook, play games, and connect.
Enjoy New Experiences
What would you do with this extra free time? We have enjoyed so many new experiences while being disconnected. We’ve gone agate and sea glass hunting, become expert canoeists, tried cross-country skiing, and played a lot of board games. I can’t wait to see what we’ll discover next.
Deepen Your Connections
Our best conversations and our most hilarious inside jokes all seem to happen when we disconnect. It’s amazing what can happen when there’s nothing to distract us from real conversation.
When you disconnect, there’s no rush to respond so you can truly listen to what the other is saying. We dream, plan, and get silly. We cherish these opportunities to deeply connect with one another.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Toward the end of my corporate career, I dreaded checking emails and messages on my phone. It was so bad that when we did disconnect, it took days before I was able to let go of the anxiety. Theses opportunities to disconnect helped me stay sane.
Over the past several years, we’ve created lives that are a better fit. But like everyone else, we still encounter stress. Turning it all off melts the stress away.
Recharge for Improved Performance
Our culture is all about getting more done. We’ve all heard executives brag about how little sleep they need. Don’t fall for these lies.
I’m no stranger to seven-day work weeks and pulling all-nighters. Believe me when I say that once I began living a balanced and rested life, my productivity and performance increased dramatically. When you take the time to disconnect you’ll return with a renewed body, mind and spirit. And it is in this state that you can create your best work.
Once I began living a balanced and rested life, my performance increased dramatically. Click To Tweet
You don’t have to spend two weeks in the wilderness to enjoy the benefits of disconnecting. You can choose to do it anytime and anywhere. Start small to make it less overwhelming. You’ll come to love your new-found free time, adventures, and connections.
What’s the longest period of time you’ve disconnected?
What was the best part about it?
Share in the comments below.
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