Progress So Far

Hey everyone,

This week’s post is going to be a little bit different. Instead of telling you how I’ve spent an hour away from my technology this week, I’m going to do an overview of my progress so far. It’s about halfway through the semester so I think it’s a good time to really reflect on how this blog has affected me.

The most progress I’ve made has definitely been with my cellphone. For instance, the last three days my phone has been dead and I haven’t felt the need to charge it, although that may have been some laziness too. I think the largest indication of my progress is that I no longer feel the need to check my phone when waiting. I don’t pull it out in the five minutes I have before class, I don’t check it in line at the grocery store, and I keep it in my purse when I’m out and about with friends. In general, my phone just stays away a lot more often than it used to. This is pretty awesome considering the fact that last year, a study was done that found people check their phones 150 times a day. That’s insane.

I found a nifty little article with a list on ways to tell if you’re addicted to your phone. And I think it’s actually a pretty good one, so I’m gonna break it down here:

  1. Do you panic when you’ve misplaced your phone? I can’t tell you how often I used to freak out after misplacing my phone for just a minute. There have been times when I freaked out thinking I lost my phone only to remember it was in my hand. Now, I don’t really have a problem with not knowing where my phone is. I usually just tell myself that it’s upstairs in my room or still in my backpack from school. And I don’t feel the need to go find it unless I actually need it to make a call or text someone.
  2. Are you on your phone during social situation or in the presence of your family? I’ve done a post on both of these situations already: one about friends and one (a little bit) about family. I cannot stress how important it is to be present in these situations. Put down the phone and actually interact with your loved ones! It makes a big impact and sends the message that you really care about them and want to give them all of your attention. Things are going to get real for a second: You never know when the last time you’ll be with someone is, don’t waste it Instagramming your food instead of interacting with them.
  3. Do you carry your phone everywhere, even to the bathroom? There have been times when I’ve gotten up to go the bathroom and just instinctively grabbed my phone to take with me. That’s weird. Why do you need a phone in the bathroom? I’ll say it again–it’s weird. We’ve all experienced someone talking on the phone while using a public bathroom, that’s weird. Why is texting any different. The person won’t notice if you’re text is two minutes later than normal.
  4. Do you go to sleep and wake up looking at your phone? I used to do this all the time. It’s really bad for your sleep and your health. I think this also says a lot about our priorities and obsessions. We’re so focused on not missing anything on social media that we have to check as soon as we wake up and we’re hesitant to put our phones down at night. It’s ridiculous. Nothing that important is going to happen in the 5-7 hours you’re in bed.

I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made and hope that you guys are at least more conscious of your technology use. Let me know in the comments what kind of progress you guys have made and if you have any suggestions for next weeks post!

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Weekend Roundup

Hey everyone,

First off, I want to apologize for not posting last week. I was in the middle of midterms and traveling home for the weekend to spend time with family and it just completely got lost in the sea of things I had to do.

With that being said, this week’s post is going to be a roundup of all the things I did this weekend without technology. I’ve noticed that since I started this blog, it’s a lot easier for me to just leave my phone at home or in my purse even without the intention of blogging about it.

  1. I sat in not one, but two waiting rooms without checking my phone. Of course, I was the only one (besides a little old lady) who wasn’t checking Facebook or texting away. I don’t know when exactly it became so uncomfortable to just sit in a room with other people while waiting, but now it seems like any time there is a slight pause in someone’s day their phone is out. I’ve even heard people tell stories of fake texting to avoid conversation. Well, I waited a total of almost an hour and nothing terrible happened. I skimmed some of the magazine’s sitting out, eavesdropped a little bit on some conversations, and people watched. I found that not having my phone out and constantly checking to see that only 3 minutes have passed made the time seem to go by faster. Next time you’re in a waiting, try just a little time with you’re phone staying safely in your pocket. Notice the things around you, people watch, skim a magazine. It won’t be the end of the world.
  2. The next thing I did should be common sense and common practice, but I’m sure a lot of us are guilty of it–texting while in the car. Now, I’m not one to text while my car is in motion, but I am guilty of picking up my phone at stop lights and stop signs to check for new texts or shoot a quick reply back. I shouldn’t even have to tell you guys why you shouldn’t be texting and driving, but picking up that phone at stop signs and lights can be just as dangerous. Maybe you don’t see the light change, maybe you don’t see someone who is about to run the light. There’s a lot of reasons to put away the phone while in a car, it’s just common sense. But this drive I didn’t check it once. Really it’s not necessary to, and I realize that now. It’s just habit to grab it.
  3. The last thing I did was watch some movies with my mom and dad. When at the theatre it’s a lot easier to keep the phone put away, but when sitting in the living room it’s hard not to grab my laptop or start texting friends. I’m not gonna lie, there were some times when all three of us had our laptops out. However, we did put them away (eventually) and really just focus on the movies. It was nice to not to be multitasking for a little while. It seems like I always have one hundred things going on in my life and allowing myself to get lost in a movie was just great. Spending time with my mom and dad without having distractions was really nice. (I even got my mom to stay up until midnight with me!)

So this week I want to challenge you all to just stop using your technology in little ways. Leave it in your pocket when you find yourself waiting, whether it be at a stop light, before class, or during a lull in conversations. Take a day and try to track how much time you use your phone. Seeing how much time you’re actually spending in front of a screen can be a real wake up call.

Let me know how you’re using your phone and laptop less this week. And if you have any suggestions for next week, let me know! I’d love to hear what you guys want me to see me do next!

Rachel

Bonding over Burritos

This week I got a lovely surprise when one of my good friends came up to visit from Kansas City. So she, my sister, and I decided to go out to get some Mexican food and catch up on things. I took the opportunity to turn it into a disconnected experience. We all agreed to put away our phones (after some convincing) for the hour and a half(ish) of dinner. We were never bored, there was never an awkward silence, and none of us missed any life-changing text messages or phone calls. We all got to catch up on each other’s lives and had a really good time.

Thinking about it now, I can’t remember the last time I sat down for dinner without someone checking their phone. How often do we sit at a table filled with loved ones and friends and completely ignore them to text someone back or check what’s new on Facebook? It’s actually kind of rude. Trust me, I’m guilty of it too. But what’s the worst that could happen if we make whoever just text us wait an hour for a response? It probably won’t be the end of the world. Do yourself and your friends a favor and the next time you go out to dinner, turn off your phone! You guys could even make a game out of it. But please, be present when you’re with loved ones. Especially when you don’t know when the next time you’ll see them is. Nothing says ” I care about you” and “you’re important to me” like listening.

I’m going to leave you guys with a spoken word film called “Look Up.” It really does a good job of showing us what we miss when we fail to look up from our phones every once in a while.

Disconnect from the need to be heard and defined. Go out into the world, leave distractions behind.” – Gary Turk

Becoming One with Nature

Success! I actually made it out to the park this week. The weather was beautiful and sunny and the entire trip was so relaxing. I spent my hour disconnecting by taking a short hike and then sitting down by the lake to do some meditating.

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Overlooking Forest Lake at Thousand Hills State Park

The first thing I did when I got to the park was took a little hike. I went alone, and if you do the same I suggest doing these things before you head out (because safety first):

  1. Decide on your trail. Pick something within your skill level and give yourself a little more time than you think it will take you to finish. You don’t want to be stuck hiking in the dark or rushing to beat sundown.
  2. Tell someone where you’re going and how long you think you’ll be before you get back.
  3. Bring along some water and a little snack just in case.
  4. Have your phone on you (but turned off) in case of emergency.
My hiking trail

My hiking trail

This was the first time I had been hiking in about a year, so I chose a fairly easy trail and only spent about 45 minutes actually hiking. Not once did I even think about checking my phone or wish I was back at home on my laptop. I found out that being out in nature can seriously help improve your mood. And some studies show that hiking can help make you happier and healthier. I was tired when I got done but it was so rewarding. I can’t tell you the last time it was just me and the natural world. No cars, no phones, no concrete–just nature.

The next thing I did while out at the park was meditating, which I think is highly underrated in today’s society. I’m no meditation expert and I admit, I don’t get to do it often but being out by the lake seemed like almost too perfect of a setting. I could’t pass up that opportunity.

Meditation does’t always have to mean sitting with your legs crossed and repeating mantras to yourself. It can be done anywhere and at anytime as formally or informally as you want. For me, I followed this simple little guide and just focused on getting my stresses out. I didn’t think about texts I may be getting or emails that I possibly missed  I simply focused on being right there in that moment.

I do not have the attention span to sit and focus on breathing for very long so I only meditated for about 10 minutes. None the less, it was such a good experience. If you’ve never meditated (even if you can’t get out in nature to do it) I highly recommend it.

For the rest of my time out there I just kind of hung out and relaxed. I snapped some pictures, laid down and sunned for a little bit, and explored a little around the area. All together, I ended up spending about an hour and a half out at the park and I’m so glad it worked out this week.

So now it’s your turn. Make sure you don’t keep putting this one off until “next weekend”. Get out and do this while the weather is still nice! You can use this handy site to find all National parks in your area and this one to find hiking trails. Don’t make any excuses–get out there and connect with nature. You won’t regret it.