Firstly, know that human beings are not designed to be continuously stimulated.
Secondly, know that you may not admit to it, but you are addicted to your device(s).
How do I know? Because I know basic human psychology, and I know that picking up your phone, bringing it to your eyes, and opening the same 3 applications to fill gaps throughout your day is the result of mind-muscle memory.
Coined by Tiffany Schlain, the 24/6 Method is a healthy lifestyle change that encourages taking one day a week to unplug from technology in order to create more time and space for productivity, and — most importantly — more peace of mind.
Her book goes into deeper detail about why this practice is the key to breaking your addiction and enhancing your physical and mental wellbeing. Inspired by my reading, here are 4 realizations that motivated me to implement a weekly tech-free day in my life.
1. When the first thing you check in the morning is on your smartphone, you willingly start your day by absorbing other people’s (often monetized) content.
Would you rather start your day visualizing what you are going to do, or looking at Amber’s swimsuit haul?
Regardless of whether you’re planning an important sales pitch at work or simply spending time with the kids, starting the day with a clear mind is the best way to go.
Just like you know you need to stop all four wheels at the stop sign, make it a rule not to check social media or emails within the first hour of waking. Rules will save you time and mental storage space, making room for more important things (and better habits upon waking up, like downing a glass of water or meditating).
And remember that it’s ok to break rules, but only on occasion.
2. Studies show that having a phone in the room while we are working decreases productivity, even if the phone is off or on silent.
Don’t shoot your productivity in the foot. Put the damn phone elsewhere!
Also, please keep in mind that if you are permitting other people to reach you at any time of the day, you’re communicating to them that you can be bothered at all times and that what you are doing isn’t truly all that important.
(If the important work you are doing requires a laptop, turn off either the wifi or all possible notifications to minimize productivity interruptions).
3. Inspiration can come from many online sources, but the best creative ideas are brewed in the quiet and stillness of our minds.
Being ‘still’ doesn’t necessarily mean sitting cross-legged on a meditation pillow. Stillness and gifting silence to our minds implies giving ourselves time to think freely and without constraints or distractions. When engaging in a flow-type activity or hobby that doesn’t involve our screens (jogging, driving, shooting hoops, baking muffins, building a bookshelf, cleaning the closet, etc.), our brains kick into a stream of consciousness that generates our most creative and insightful thoughts.
Take your mind out to wander — you will find yourself making connections between ideas you weren’t able to perceive beforehand.
“Stillness isn’t empty; it’s full of answers.”
— 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week
4. There is no better feeling…
…than coming towards the end of the day and noticing that your phone is still at nearly full charge. As I like to say, time spent away from your phone is the best kind of time spent, either alone or with a loved one — implying that you’ve spent the day getting your hands dirty in the yard, making magic in the kitchen, or cultivating a hobby.
Another one of my favorite sayings goes: a common way to spell love is T-I-M-E. Giving someone time and your undivided attention is one of the most loving things you can do, and the time best spent is time with those that you love.
Love, empathy, gratitude, friendships, and creativity are infinite resources. The more of them you share and cultivate, the more of them come back to you.
However, they are only as infinite as you are finite. Meaning that after you’ve lived the 82 years today’s average human being ends up living, there is no more time to cultivate them.
Don’t be the person who alienates themselves full-time behind a screen. Are you really too important to take away only one day from the online world?
Call a friend and make plans. Then put the phone down, look outside the window, and go live it.
“Life itself is a privilege, but to live life to the fullest — well, that is a choice.”
— Andy Andrews
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