Last Friday I decided to try a little experiment. I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed with work and my to-do list never seemed to be getting done, which made me feel frustrated and disappointed at the end of the day. When I sat back and looked at what I was doing throughout the day I realized I was constantly distracted.
Why was I distracted? I was distracted because I was constantly on my iPhone answering phone calls and emails. Whenever my phone would ring or I would get an email alert I would drop everything and pick up my phone. I realized my phone was a constant interruption so I decided to do the unthinkable...I turned off my phone.
Then, to take it one step further I shut down my iPad and turned off my computer.
I was officially UNPLUGGED for the first time in years.
At first I was only going to unplug for one day, but after the first 24 hours I realized I needed a little more time away from everything electronic. I went three whole days without looking at a screen of some sort.
Here’s what happened when I completely unplugged for three whole days…
Friday, Day One: After unplugging I felt the constant urge to look things up that I don’t know the answer to. I have the habit of being able to Google any possible question I have immediately when it pops into my head. I’m used to being able to find out when the store opens, what the stock market is doing, or any other random question I think of in seconds. Not being able to look up information in seconds made me feel uncomfortable and a little anxious. I hate to admit it, but a few times I even reached into my pocket looking for my iPhone just out of habit even though I put my phone, iPad and computer in the basement. I continued to feel awkward not having instant access to information through the day, but I was able to get more paperwork done and get more organized.
At the end of the day I spent time with my wife and son and wasn’t distracted at all. The only time I wish I had my iPhone was when I wanted to take a photo of my son smiling. Tara was able to take a few photos instead, so it didn’t bother me too much. I have a bad habit of being on my phone when Tara and I watch TV or movies. That night we watched a movie all the way through and it felt great to spend quality time with her and not be distracted by my phone. Ironically, the movie we watched was called, Disconnected, which is about how technology and social media has negative impacts on our lives…weird, huh?
Saturday, Day Two: When I wake up I’m used to checking emails and social media for a few minutes. It felt awkward and uncomfortable not to have my phone on my bedside table. Again, I felt uncomfortable throughout the morning not being able to go on random Google sprees at my free will. However, by the end of the afternoon I stopped worrying about random things and I stopped seeking answers to random things that popped into my mind. Tara and I went to grocery store in and then Church at night. By then I had completely stopped thinking about my cell phone.
Sunday, Day Three: I woke up and didn’t think twice about my iPhone. I wasn’t worried about what was going on in the outside world. Finally no anxiety of not being able to check my email, phone calls, or social media. I went to jiu jitsu for a few hours. On my way home I normally call Tara to let her know I’m on my way, so that seemed a bit weird not being able to call her, but I got over it. Later we went by my in-law’s and I wasn’t distracted at all. It was the first time in years that I felt comfortable not having my iPhone with me at all times. Sunday night we spent some uninterrupted family time together and it felt amazing.
After the three days were up I felt refreshed and rejuvenated Monday morning. When I turned my phone back on I had a ton of emails and phone calls to return, but it only took a half hour to get back up to speed. Not bad for being away for 72 hours.
After my little experiment I realized just how distracted and disruptive my iPhone is. Because of this I did some research about smart phone usage and how important it is to turn off your phone and I found some pretty shocking stuff. Here’s what I found…
- Your smartphone severely impacts your ability to focus.
- A Kent State University study showed that higher cell phone usage correlates to lower GPAs and higher anxiety levels.
- In a Forbes survey, 3 out of 5 people admitted they spend more time on their computer than with their significant others.
- In that same Forbes study, 61% of respondents reported feeling jealous, depressed or annoyed after checking their smart phone updates
- In a 2009 study, 97% of college students thought it was rude to take a call in a movie theater, but 24% of them did it anyway.
- One in four people check their phones every thirty minutes, while one in five check every ten.
- 84% of people surveyed in a new TIME Mobility Poll said they couldn’t go a single day without their mobile device in hand.
- Professor Paul Dolan, of the London School of Economics, says people would be more content if they turned off their mobile phones and spent time concentrating on their friends and family rather than checking their emails or text messages.
After my little three-day experiment I’m going to make a conscious effort to unplug from time to time. What about you?
Do you have a difficult time disconnecting from your smart phone? When was the last time you turned everything off and spent quality time with your loved ones?