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You Must Schedule "Unplugged Time" for Your Family

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Living unplugged. Pre-broadband I used to do it all the time. In fact, it’s how we all lived. Post-broadband, it’s been exceptionally rare. Post-cell phone, iPhone especially, no way! For the better part of the past 2 weeks, though, that’s exactly what I’ve managed to do…and it’s been wonderful!

Here’s the synopsis of my “experiment”:

During Turn Off Week, we reinforced the notion that a busy family is a family who doesn’t gravitate towards screens of any kind. We didn’t need to consciously think about what we were missing on TV or surfing the net because we were too busy doing other things. Being on vacation, that’s easy to accomplish. The goal now is to molt that vacation mentality to the every day down time of our daily lives. Adopting more of a “get up and go” mentality during those times is what we hope to do in order to minimize screen time at times we could be doing other things as a family together. I’ll keep you posted on our quest to accomplish that!

During the second week, last week, I was speaking at a conference in Las Vegas and realized I didn’t need my laptop with me. I was online briefly early in the week to “clean my plate” and then was offline completely for 5 days, Wednesday to Sunday. Other than a couple quick calls home to the kids and some brief texts with them to say “hi” we had zero use of technology.

Here’s what I learned during that second week:

1. I didn’t miss it at all…and found there was nothing online that I “missed” or that couldn’t wait until I returned. That is a HUGE revelation to recognize. For many of us, our biggest worry is that “OMG, I have to be online…I’ll miss that email, call, text, post…” In truth, little happens in the few days, or week or couple weeks, any of us are offline that can’t wait. The world will keep spinning while we are taking some much needed R&R and the others we’ve entrusted our lives to while we are gone are fully capable of keeping things moving forward for us while we are regrouping.

2. Nothing much occurs on social media sites these days that we can’t catch up on in a quick click when we return. Most of Twitter has become noise and Facebook glorified feeds that are republished from other venues.

3. Of the 300+ emails that came in while I was gone, 10%, at best, were important.  The remaining 90% were SPAM/SPAM-like.

4. I feel more refreshed today and more “tuned in” to the world than I have in a long, long time!

Lesson learned: unplugged time is as essential as eating, breathing and exercising. In fact, it’s likely the most important part of our digital existence to not forget. It’s something we all need regularly…I’d argue at least weekly but perhaps daily. I’m planning on scheduling it into my day and finding a way for my family to do the same.

Give the unplugged experiment a whirl for your family.  Once you tune-in to the unplugged world, you won’t want to tune out again!


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