Have you ever found yourself saying, “Man, I need to do that someday.” And then it feels like too big of a project to take on, so you never do it? Like weaning yourself from your phone, or exercising every day, or taking up a hobby, or forming a new habit. I’d know for a while that I wanted to learn to unplug, to quit wasting time zoned out on screens and to explore old or new hobbies. But it felt too big to tackle. So I decided to start doing monthly challenges. I figure I could do something for 30 days! So the ML Monthly Challenge series began over on Instagram!
For the month of July I wanted to learn to unplug more. I wasted so much time on my phone, watching Amazon Prime shows at night, and zoning out on my computer rather than being present. I knew if I could break away from the screens I’d have more time for my family and for hobbies that had gone dormant with starting up a business.
This wasn’t an unplug in the sense that I dropped all technology or screens. I knew that wasn’t realistic, especially when trying to run a business from home. But I did want to quit relying on them when I was bored or trying to escape.
And this has been an interesting month! I’ve had successes and I’ve had moments where I gave in.
First, some tools and tricks I used:
- I deleted every non-essential app on my phone. Goodbye Facebook, Pinterest, games, etc. Instagram stayed because I have to have it on the phone to post. But everything else was health, calculator, or finance related. My phone went back to being a tool, not a vortex that sucked my brain out.
- I did download one new app that I had gotten rid of before. The Moment app! This is only on iOS right now, but it is an amazing app that tracks your screen usage. It’s crazy how much time I was spending on the phone. One day it was up over 6 hours. Yikes!!! With that helping me be more intentional and aware I was able to keep my usage below two and a half hours, many days below an hour.
- I decided to give up evening show binging. We got rid of Netflix in December, but still have our Amazon Prime account…so it ended up replacing Netflix in the time waster category.
- Set up a morning routine with the kids. It was too easy to just get on the computer when I didn’t know what to do, so instead of being clueless, we set up a morning routine that helped the kids and me.
- I was bored the first few days and found myself reaching for my phone or walking to the computer. It was crazy how often I did that. It was eye opening. I didn’t know what to do with myself and with my time. All the options felt like so much work (which sounds so dumb, but really screens have made me lazy).
- I started to read again. I hadn’t read an entire book front to back since Ione was born nearly 2 1/2 years ago. I’d listened to some podcasts, and two audio books in the car, and half a book at a Girls Camp, but I’d not finished an actual book. I picked an easy favorite from the shelf (“Dealing with Dragons” by Patricia C Wrede), and started in. And I couldn’t stop! I’d read the entire 4 book series within 5 days. And then we went to the library and got two more books. I actually read books. Real books! And it felt so good! 6 books in the month, with one more partially read.
- I only watched two tv episodes and no movies all month! Both episodes were at a social gathering, so I didn’t worry about it to much. I was quite proud of keeping with that! But…
- Before you think it was all roses and success…I did find that after a hard day I’d sit down and play Mario Kart because I just didn’t want to do anything that took thought, but I didn’t want to binge on shows. Now, I’m not saying this is bad at all! It just didn’t really stay in keeping with the challenge. I was just replacing binging on shows to playing a video game. But, I did unlock all but two characters and all but two cars, so yea? (Totally kidding). I’m not saying binging on shows or playing Mario Kart is bad in moderation, but I don’t want that to be my every day life and suck up all my evening time.
- One afternoon the lightning was popping off close, so I had my computer unplugged. I literally couldn’t do the business work I had lined out for the day. This was about a week and a half into the month and the boredom had started to wear off. I looked around, saw my sewing machine and thought, “Hey! I have two projects that need to be done, I can get those done during quiet time!”
So I pulled the stuff out and got Ione’s kitty hooded towel put together and the curtains for her bed fixed. Nothing fancy, but it was so fun to create something tactile again! I hadn’t sat down to sew in a LONG time! The desire and oomph to go to the trouble to pull everything out was buried. I don’t know that I’m ready to pull the quilts out again, but it was neat to see progress of wanting to do something with a little more physical effort.
- There were some low days where I threw it all out the window, turned on Daniel Tiger for the kids and just worked online. I escaped. Not what I wanted…BUT, those days were far fewer than in past months. I can’t be supermom, nor do I want to be. That is a fictional character, and I’m trying to just be a better and real me.
I still have more I want to improve on this, but doing this challenge this month was eye opening! I hadn’t realized just how screen dependent I was, and how I’d trained myself to chase the easy entertainment rather than putting work in for the progress I wanted. It was humbling and a little embarrassing.
Next month (tomorrow!!) I have an exciting challenge lined out. I don’t know yet what it will bring, but I’m sure interested to see. You can follow along on the ML Monthly Challenge journey over on Instagram (or stick around here for the end of month update each month…or both!).