Recently, I decided to challenge myself this year before Halloween. I kept my challenge private, not wanting to share what I thought was going to happen until my challenge was over.
In the middle of October, there was a lot going on at my work. I was really tired, really stressed and ready to do more that work, come home, go over emails and go to bed.
I challenged myself to not touch the computer again until after Thanksgiving. For work emails, I would use my phone for email access or a work computer. For personal emails, I set up a system where I would get a notification if I got an email from family members.
I will admit that the first few days were weird. I was used to getting up, booting up the laptop and eating breakfast over the desk while I tried to "catch up" with the world before I went to work.
Now, I had a little bit of free time. I was able to sleep in if I wanted, or style my hair differently or do any of a number of small tasks before I went to work.
I still set out my clothes and work items before I went to bed each night. I still did all of my morning things such as take vitamins and an allergy tablet. Now, that I had this extra time, I was not running around our small apartment, making sure that I had everything in order. I knew that I had time.
The next thing I noticed is that I was leaving earlier every morning and not rushing in traffic. Two times, I got into work early enough to get a very nice parking space.
Coming home in the afternoon was strange for the first week. No longer did I turn the computer on and simply sit there, scrolling through Facebook. Now, I was able to use the Amazon Prime feature and read some books that I have been meaning to read. I was able to have long conversations with friends because I was not tired and exhausted. I was able to catch up with friends by talking to them, not reading about them. It was refreshing and I enjoyed it.
After the second week of my laptop not even being turned on, I did not even look at the laptop with interest. I was no longer interested in social media as I had been. I was informed about friends and family. I was caught up on the news. I was happy and more relaxed.
A trip to New York City in the past would have necessitated my laptop coming along. I did not even think about packing it or a small tablet when I was making plans for the day trip. It did not even occur to me until I got home that I could have taken it with me. My son asked the hotel for the wifi password so that he could play a video game on his phone. We used apps to navigate our way around the city, but other than that and a few photos, we did not do any extreme use of technology.
It was interesting to see people with their heads down in their phones, so to speak when we were very in tune with the world around us and our surroundings. Although we had an app to let us know when the next stop was coming up, it was far more interesting to look out the window at the different neighborhoods and pay attention to the names of the stops. It made me think back to my childhood with my sister, when we were responsible for our commute, including getting off at the correct stop.
When my son and I saw the city, we had so much fun. We spoke to my husband that night, telling him of all of the things that we were seeing, and of all of the fun that we were having. When we got off the phone, we went to bed and slept so well, it was awesome how all of the walking we did made us sleep so well! The next morning was very leisurely for both of us. I was able to sleep until after 6 am, and we were able to have a great breakfast at a donut place because we waited until after the rush. The best part, though, was the time that we spent together, talking and interacting because we were not "in our phones", but connected with one another.
Week 3 of the challenge was a little strange. I had to send a personal email to someone that would normally have been a long email. Instead, I sent a brief email, answering all of their questions and signed off. I did not look at any of the emails that were waiting for me. It was not even anything that occurred to me. A phone call from a different friend noted that they had not seen me online in a long while. I explained that I had been really busy with work, but that all was fine. We caught up and I got to hear about their newest grandchild.
My final 2 weeks were really a blur as it was very hectic at work for Thanksgiving. All I could think about was work and sleep, even with no computer in place. My car died and I had to focus on replacing it. The internet was not even a thought as I navigated getting down to see family and driving back up.
I knew yesterday that it was my last day away from the computer. I did not feel sad or happy, I just knew that I needed to do some training at home and that I needed to have a look at the emails still waiting for me.
I turned the computer on this morning and it took longer than usual to boot up. There were several updates and a scan that needed to happen. It took about 10 minutes. I loaded my email and I saw that I had nearly 5,000 emails waiting for me. It was mind boggling to see so many emails.
Looking at all of those untouched emails helped me to make some decisions. When you see emails every day that you are not interested in, it is very easy to simply delete them one at a time, never realizing how long it takes to delete them every single day. I subscribe to a lot of like minded lists, and I was able to create folders to filter those into as well as unsubscribe from a bunch of emails that are no longer relevant to me. Additionally, I was able to update a lot of email contacts with the best email for them to reach me at, making my valuable time used much wiser.
The final thing that being unplugged for so long did is give me a distaste for spending a lot of time on social media. Before, I was content to sit there and scroll through the endless streams of posts and ads and news. Now, I find myself itching to be back in the real world and not in the virtual one.
As Christmas and other winter holidays draw closer, I find myself becoming better at things I always wanted to do. Better at sales and couponing, better at creating budget plans and following them and better at being an active member of my family. I will be posting reviews, genealogy information and DNA information here, and I will be updating much more regularly as I have come up with many more ways to better manage my time. I look forward to all of your input and comments!
I write a lot about genetic genealogy, family trees, DNA, and home life as well as the occasional product review. Comments? Email me at CocktailsAndSwagger@Hotmail.com