Contrary to the doubters and the nonbelievers out there, including myself, I actually was able to keep my cellphone powered off, and stayed away from my iPad and computers for 24 hours.
Was it earth shattering? Life-changing? Eye-opening? Not really.
It's true that I was anxious, concerned about what I was missing and worried that I was not reachable in an emergency. I was also bored. As a multitasker since childhood, not being able to read e-mails, check Facebook or play Words With Friends while in line or waiting for a meal made me fidgety! Just take a look at my diary for the first night (transcribed from scribbled notes):
Friday 5:50 pm - After finishing my last-minute e-mails and phone calls, I turn off my phone and leave it in my bedroom. The sun is setting. dddddd
5:55 pm - In our dining room, I join my husband and uncle for dinner. We share pleasant conversation and tasty food. So far, so good.
6:45 pm - It's Friday night and we have no plans. My husband and uncle have been complaining that tax season has kept me unavailable and they'd like to spend time with me. So, I sat on the couch waiting for their company ... and waited ... and waited. I turned on the TV, noticing that my uncle was sitting at the counter on his laptop while my husband was watching YouTube videos on his phone.
7:15 pm - It is so hard to just sit and watch TV. I'm bored. I want to play on my phone. I want to catch up on a few work items while my show is on. But, I can't. I ask the guys if they want to sit down with me. They claim they are too tired. I grab last Sunday's New York Times and read while the TV drones on.
8:00 pm - I give up. I don my jammies, turn on the TV in my bedroom and open a book. I actually read a third of the novel (written by a client) before turning off the TV and shutting the lights. Because I committed to not using my phone, I set my alarm clock to wake me in the morning.
Starting my Saturday without checking e-mails, texts, Facebook, or phone messages felt strange and disorienting. I had a full day planned including a kid's birthday party followed by dinner I was putting on for my uncle's birthday. What if a guest needed to get hold of me? What if I need to look something up? How do I keep tabs on the world?!
I'll admit it; it was hard to do without my electronic lifelines. Yet, I'm not convinced that I'm better off without them for 24 hours in a row. Not having access to my phone made me distractingly focus on that — instead of creating space for me to more fully enjoy the people, places and things around me.
But the experience was not devoid of lessons. What did I learn? For one, I learned that it's a good idea to ignore my phone sometimes so I can read. I learned that I can be reachable without checking my phone constantly. And I learned that nobody noticed the difference. Not one person said, "Hey, you haven't been on your phone." The only comment I got was from my husband and uncle who complained that I was on my phone and iPad all night instead of talking to them. Go figure.
At 5:50 pm Saturday, when I finally turned my phone back on, I had 105 e-mails and five texts.
Did you try unplugging? Comment below and then let us know how you did.