I’m in the middle of a weeklong digital detox. That means no watching TV or movies, no Facebook or Instagram, no reading the news, and no checking my personal email, and even keeping my Kindle closed (if you know me personally, you know how serious that is). The only allowances I’ve made myself are work-related (including writing this blog!), and music. But other than that, I’m keeping my eyes away from all screens this week.

PREPPING FOR MY DIGITAL-FREE WEEK

I’m embarrassed how much I had to mentally prepare for this week. I planned to start on Saturday, and the whole week beforehand, I went back and forth between mentally psyching myself up and talking myself out of it. I was sure I’d cave at some point. I even told myself I could just do this for the weekend and let it be at that. By Friday night, I still wasn’t sure if I could make it, but I figured I’d at least try. I spent that evening speeding through the book I was reading, knowing I wouldn’t be able to pick it up for a week. Then I did one last email check, one last scroll through Facebook and Instagram, and one last look at the headlines. Then I blocked all my media apps on my phone, and went to bed.

WHAT HAPPENED

Saturday morning, I spent more time journaling than normal since I wasn’t interrupting myself to check my phone every five minutes. I got a workout in. I listened to music. I visited with friends. I even took a three-hour nap. Not once did I check my email or feel the need to post on social media.

Sunday was more of the same. I woke up clear headed and motivated. My husband and I took a hike. We visited with his mother. I worked in the yard for a few hours, and then deep cleaned our kitchen. I also got plenty of downtime—real downtime. I was fully present for my family. I noticed the actual world around me. And by Sunday night, I was amazed at how relaxed my shoulders were, how rested I felt, and how uncluttered my mind was. Just two days in, and I knew I’d make it the rest of the week.

DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS ARE NOT RELAXING

In this digital age, we have so much coming at us from all different directions. News stories vying for our attention. Polarizing posts on Facebook. Envy-inducing photos on Instagram. A new email every five minutes. Phone notifications. Constant advertisements.

Are you tired yet? I am.

The thing is, I know I’m not being my best when I’m digitally distracted. My family has to compete for my attention. I never feel rested. My attention span is reduced. And I know I’m not alone. The next time you’re anywhere you need to wait in line, count how many people are on their phones. I’m willing to bet it’s close to 100%. We can’t even wait five minutes without some sort of entertainment, even if we can also admit that it’s really not all that entertaining.

DO YOU NEED A BREAK TOO?

I challenge you to join me. Make it a day, or a weekend, or see if you can make it a whole week. Maybe even consider just a weekly tech-free day. Keep the TV off. Refuse to look at your phone. Lock your social media accounts and let go of email. And then see how it changes your life. Are you more present? Do you have more energy? Do you get more done? Or do you find more time to actually have fun?

I can’t wait to hear what happens. Be sure to come back here after your digital detox and let me know how it worked!

TECH-FREE THINGS TO DO

If you take the challenge, but aren’t sure what you can do with your time, here’s a list of a few screen-free things to enjoy. Be sure to print this out before you sign off!

  1. Start your day with thirty minutes of absolute silence while you enjoy your coffee.
  2. Take the family on a bike ride around your neighborhood.
  3. Visit the ducks at the Sonoma Plaza.
  4. Take a walk around Spring Lake.
  5. Go fishing.
  6. Have a family game night (or a night out at Wine or Lose in Petaluma)
  7. Write letters to friends and snail mail them.
  8. Be a tourist in your own town by visiting places you’ve never been before.
  9. Watch the sunset at the beach.
  10. Go roller skating at Cal Skate.
  11. Create a fairy garden in your yard.
  12. Color in a coloring book.
  13. Take a nap (they’re seriously underrated)
  14. Cook a gourmet meal.
  15. Have a round robin storytelling night, where each person tells a portion of the story, and the next person continues it, etc.
  16. Study the night sky.
  17. Have a friend teach you how to do something new.
  18. Make sock puppets and put on a show with the kids.
  19. Write a poem.
  20. Take time to notice the things around you without relying on digital distractions for entertainment. Pay attention to how new things will seem!


What other non-digital things are there to do? Let me know in the comments.

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Crissi Langwell is a Petaluma local, blended family mom to three young adults, and author of books with genres that include romance, women’s fiction, young adult, and magical realism. Visit Crissi’s author website at crissilangwell.com.

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