I decided to put my money where my mouth is.
I left my smartphone behind while I went out of town for the weekend. On purpose.
We had been planning this trip for some time. My wife’s father had recently passed away and the last two months (as well as the last two years leading up to it) had been pretty draining. We needed a chance to rest, refresh, reconnect and recharge.
That wasn’t going to happen if I brought my smartphone along.
I’m like everybody else right now. Checking it constantly, hearing the notifications or feeling the vibrations when an email, text or social media alert came through. This needed to be a special time where I could unplug.
I did cheat by having my wife bring her phone just in case there was an emergency. But here’s what happened…
We had a wonderful time. We stayed at a beautiful home in Joshua Tree, CA. We read, we talked, we connected, we went for walks, drove into town for mass and a meal. Kate even surprised me with art supplies she purchased so we could draw and paint on our trip. Truly a special time.
Here are some things that I learned and felt. Hopefully you can use some of this in your own life and try leaving your smartphone at home.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through it, but I knew I wanted to try it.
I set vacation reminders and autoresponders for my phone and email and let people know in advance that I was not available that weekend.
I turned off all notification software on my tablet for email and social media apps.
I did use the internet, but only briefly. I looked up a biography on a local artist, what time mass was at the local church, and (to satisfy my curiosity) information to find out how satellite internet works in remote areas.
On my first day I discovered, there’s a bit of withdrawal from not having your smartphone. You’re still hanging on to the busy world you’ve walked away from and that bled into some of my conversation. A relative didn’t fully observe the “call in case of emergency rule” but it was a serious enough event that they felt it warranted it. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do to help, and there was not a call for us to return home. I had to make the decision to put the information to the side.
Some of the busyness of the world and the phone call bled over into my dreams that first night. It also spilled over into part of the next morning’s writing and prayer. However, by mid morning of that second day..I was all in. Relaxing, napping, drawing, bonding with my wife.
You don’t want to fall into the trap of “well I’ll just check this email real quick.” You are setting yourself up for trouble. If a work problem arises that is communicated via email, you’re not going to be available to fix the situation.
You won’t be able to get that problem out of your mind during your trip. Or worse, you could start dabbling into work and steal time away from your vacation. It’s not worth it.
Years ago, Kate and I learned that intrusions will try to mess up your vacation time. We made the mistake of turning on the television to discover that a celebrity’s son had died at a young age. The news pulled us right out of our good time and just put a damper on the rest of the trip.
Try to do a “news fast” if you can. If the news is that big and important, someone around you will let you know. Other than that, it can wait.
The other challenge I discovered was having a bit of anxiety as I was traveling home. Had the experiment worked? Would I discover that my phone had blown up with angry voice mails and texts wondering where I was or informing me that I had missed incredible business opportunities?
None of that was the case.
I had missed a few calls, but fortunately, my outgoing message had done the trick. No voice mails and nothing that I couldn’t clean up rather quickly.
I am now looking at how I deal with my phone. Unless you are a doctor, no one is going to die if you don’t pick up the phone. It’s important to set boundaries in your life so that you can focus on the more important aspects of life, your family, friends, your health and well being.
I’m now experimenting with setting hard boundaries each night and once a week on the weekends.
The freedom of not being chained to a phone is pretty exhilarating and I highly recommend you give it a try.
What are you thoughts? Have you ever tried this? If so what were the results? Or if you haven’t what are your fears?
Join the conversation on my Facebook Page and share you feelings about going phone free for a day or weekend.