Happy August, folks! I’m kicking off this month with a quick recap of the 30 Days of Less Screens challenge I completed from June 17th-July 18th.
Of all the self-imposed challenges I have completed, this was, by far, the most difficult. To recap, I challenged myself to complete the following during the 30 day period:
- no social media
- limited TV
- limited cell phone
- limited computer
- more blogging
I honestly feel pretty satisfied with the results in regards to no social media, less cell phone, and less computer usage. But in the areas of limited TV and more blogging, I flat-out failed. These were the areas I was most confident about going into the challenge so it makes sense that I struggled the most here. I just was not prepared for difficulty so I easily found myself collapsing in front of the TV after a particularly tough morning with the babies or even just turning on Netflix as soon as I came home from barre. I watched more television during this challenge than I have in probably the past 2 years.
By the end of the 30 days, I was not feeling anywhere near the satisfaction that I expected. I had not experienced a lot of productivity and that left me feeling pretty frustrated. But I have learned some things that I should have done from the beginning if I really wanted to be successful. So here is my advice to you if you are going to try a social media ban or similar challenge.
1. Have a Partner
Have someone who is either completing the challenge with you at the same time or someone who is willing to support you and check in on your progress. Accountability is a huge part of starting a new habit. Choose someone who you will see or talk to a regular basis. A roommate or family member you with works perfectly as this person sees you frequently. If you have someone who is comfortable calling you out when you are breaking the rules of the challenge, even better.
2. Make Access Difficult
Putting blocks to access in place automatically sets you up for more success. Delete social media apps off your mobile device and remove bookmarks from your computer. Or suspend your account all together. Streaming services can be avoided by having someone you trust change the password. You could even go all out and have someone change your wireless password. Or change your mobile device data plan to a very small amount (like less than 1 GB, if possible).
3. Develop Beneficial Pacifiers
In the case of my less screens challenge, the point was to stay away from baser entertainment, not all entertainment entirely. Finding books, podcasts, radio programs, and films that really captivated me and allowed me to think about things beyond myself was a great way to fill the time that could have been spend scrolling through my Instagram feeds. Have a short list of approved entertainment depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Maybe some non-fiction books to help you learn more about home repairs. Or a podcast that motivates you to finish a DIY project instead of sitting on the couch.
4. Reward Yourself
Completely removing screens all together can be a bit of challenge. When you’re struggling to make it through the day, knowing a reward could be waiting for you can make it a lot easier to put down your phone and get back to work. This could be allowing yourself to watch a new episode of Game of Thrones (with the help of your challenge partner who will sign into HBO for you) or setting a timer for 25 minutes to allow buzzfeed.com to suck you in to its vortex. The point is when you do finally reunite with your TV, cell phone, or computer you can enjoy the entertainment they provide more than when your eyes are glued to the screen for most of the day.
I’m not quite ready to embark on another 30 day challenge yet, but now I feel a bit more prepared when I do. And I know to not go into the experience thinking any part of it will be easy.
Thanks for reading!