6 Unexpected Outcomes From Our Phone-Free Experiment
Our experiment was to make one change for one week. There were 5 options to choose from. I chose the “fun one” because it was the easiest: Add something fun to your week that requires no technology. Leave the phone at home for this activity…Do this fun thing 3 times this week for 10 minutes.
So I decided to swing.
Four times this week I walked out to the back yard and sat down in an old-fashioned wooden swing hanging from a real tree. I pushed off with my legs and pumped just like I used to at recess in 1964, ponytail flying. Once I got going I could lean back and marvel at the kaleidoscope of fall colors in the canopy overhead.
My only rule was to enjoy myself – no phone, no figuring, no fretting for ten whole minutes. Just be a kid again.
As the week unfolded there were some interesting outcomes I hadn’t anticipated.
Unexpected positive benefits:
- High ROI – The carefree goodness of ten minutes of swinging came back to mind at random times all week. When the thought returned it brought the vibrant joy of freedom all over again.
- Sleep – While trying to get to sleep (which often takes longer than it should) the soothing sensation of swinging came back to me. It was like meditation without an app! I felt the slow easy arc of motion up to the sky and back again. It was remarkably relaxing and I fell asleep more easily than usual.
- Relief & Playfulness – When I waffled about taking time to swing I would re-commit myself to the experiment: The next 10 minutes are set aside to play. Period. Once I got firm on that, I felt a surprising sense of relief and playfulness.
- Rekindled Memories – As I made a little space to swing this week other similar memories have surfaced. I remembered how my beagle, Stranger, and I used to dig for field mice in the sagebrush fields around our house and then nap in the warm sun, hidden by the tall sweet-smelling grass.
- Resistance – Sometimes while swinging I felt the pull to go get my phone to make a video and send it to my granddaughter…to turn this experience into a production of sorts. At times it was difficult to stay present – to just enjoy myself and not document it.
- Need for Validation – It isn’t easy to admit this but my mind grappled with crazy questions like: If I don’t share this with anyone, is it still valuable? If no one knows about this moment, is it still significant? Yes and yes and more yes.
This experiment has seriously troubled some waters for me. It’s awakened a deep longing to protect unstructured, unhurried chunks of time, and an urgency to understand how deeply our phones are changing how we operate in our world and with each other. I believe there are workable solutions – and together we can find them.
I hope you’ll share what you’re learning with us in the comments below. Our on-going shared conversation is certainly part of our awareness and solution.
Note: If you haven’t seen Adam Alter’s TED Talk yet, take 9 minutes to listen.