Several weeks ago I talked about how turning off your monitor/TV/ tablet/smartphone at least an hour before bed can dramatically improve the quality of your sleep. If just one hour can make that big of a difference for your sleep cycles, imagine what an entire screen-free day could do. Imagine getting back not only the mini-breaks that we so often fill with checking our phones, but long breaks as well. Imagine the sound of silence, unfettered by soundtracks, special effects, videos. Imagine looking around or talking to people while you wait in line.
I have to admit, the first time I tried it, I pretty much failed. I missed the noise, the constant connection. I missed the habit of it. I made it until about 9:30 am before flipping on the computer for 30 minutes of emergency email checking. When I turned it off, I hardly knew what to do with myself. Suddenly I had a lot more time on my hands that was usually filled with Hulu and YouTube and Facebook and all the randomness that Facebook spawns. I did the dishes and the laundry. I reorganized my overflowing bookshelves. I worked on a quilt.
The best part was that the longer it went, the calmer I felt. There was no urgency to keep on top of every post or email, no inundation by endless irrelevant information, no buzzing of screens. By the end of the day, I could hardly stand the idea of having to turn the computer on the next morning for work.
And while this may not be the case for everyone–it will probably be easier for people who log less daily screen time and harder for those who log more–an increased sense of calm and better night’s sleep isn’t the only reason to give this exercise a try. It’s also great conditioning for times when networks go down or power goes out. Imagine the cold-turkey misery of a days-long power failure. Practice filling screen-free time means that when the outage occurs, you won’t find yourself staring blankly at a black screen trying to will the power back on. Or at least not for quite as long.