A couple of years ago, I decided to go bare ass screenless for one day a week in efforts to get away from social media, emails, text message and visual noise pollution.

I thought about my decision and its impact recently as I was listening to Nicole Abboud’s podcast episode about her 30-day detox (as she calls it) from social media. I’m a big fan of Abboud’s Gen Y Lawyer Podcast even though I’m a bit removed from Gen Y at least chronologically. Abboud’s podcasts are always thought-provoking and stimulating no matter your age or status in life.

Like many of us, Abboud uses her social media accounts as a business development tool as well as a purely social one. Those of us who aspire to be thought leaders often feel compelled to be always “on” our social media accounts staying abreast of events, getting ahead of developments and offering (we hope) enlightened comments to draw an audience and get business.

Before you know it, we start to value and spend more time on social media than on real personal interactions, reading, and just plain reflecting.

But as Abboud points out, this effort has a dark side as well as we get more and more consumed by social media and try to do and say more. And as lawyers (or ex-lawyers), we remain highly competitive, driven A-personalities’ which fuels us even more. Before you know it, we start to value and spend more time on social media than on real personal interactions, reading, and just plain reflecting.

So Abboud detoxed for 30 days and, in her podcast, talks about what she discovered: more creativity. Less distraction. Less affected by what was going on in the outside world. Improved self-esteem as she quit comparing herself to others and began thinking more about her own self-worth.

But she also notes that there was an impact on her business from this experiment: lost opportunities that presented themselves during her social media rehab.

Abboud talks about what she learned and has now vowed to spend a maximum of 1 hour per day on social media to maintain better balance in her life.

All good ideas and I agree with her to a point. Like Abboud, I felt some time ago that I was also spending too much time on social media and looking at screens. That I was always “occupied” with something on a screen and ignoring what was going on around me.

My solution though was a little different. Instead of detoxing completely, I decided to take one day a week-Sunday-and spend as much time as I could that day without looking at a screen. I reasoned that not as much happens on Sunday business wise and I wouldn’t miss much other than perhaps some new cat pics. It was also a day that historically at least was more of a family day, so it was easier to fall into.

So, I’ve been holding my personal Screenless Day off and on now for a couple of years. When I say screenless, I mean screenless.

So, I’ve been holding my personal Screenless Day off and on now for a couple of years. When I say screenless, I mean screenless. If I want to read a book, it’s a paper one. If I want to catch up on the news, it’s a paper newspaper (yes, they still make such things). I don’t read Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. I don’t read emails or anything else online. I listen to music on CDs instead of on my iPhone. If I watch a movie, I go to the movies or watch TV.

If I make any notes, I use a fountain pen and a paper notebook. I do keep my phone with me in case of emergency calls or texts from family, but it typically stays in my pocket.

Yes, I do go to some extremes, and I could likely accomplish the same thing by just signing off Twitter et al. for a day. But I feel like a cleaner break gives me and forces me to take more time to reflect and think. I want to experience, the best I can for, at least for a whole day what it’s like to go analog and screenless.

And it’s a slippery slope for me: if I text a colleague, it’s pretty easy to then take a peek at Twitter, and then it’s pretty easy to slide back into old habits. (This is enhanced by the sad fact I don’t do anything if it’s not to an extreme).

So, is it worth it? I think so. Sundays have become my day to relax. To be contemplative. Like Abboud, I found a source of creativity that grows out of just sittin and thinkin. And there is something about reading a paper book. It’s more methodical and seems like there is more time for it to sink in. As I have written before, I don’t know if this is because this is really the case or if it’s the case because we think it’s the case. Doesn’t really matter.

I’ve noticed by the way that they sell all kinds of stuff at Starbucks).

I also spend time during this reflective period following James Altucher’s recommendation of coming up and writing down big ideas for me to think about doing. I call them my personal moon shots and these range from learning to speak Chinese to be an intern at a tech company to going back to school and a bunch of other crazy shit I won’t tell you about. The point is, as Abboud put it, a hiatus from social media and, for me, screens in general-gives you time to do some dreaming. (Although I admit, it did take me a little time to figure out what to do in Starbucks when I wasn’t looking at my phone. I’ve noticed by the way that they sell all kinds of stuff at Starbucks).

I do part company with Abboud a little bit though on her suggestion to limit social media interactions to one hour per day to achieve the same benefits. Some days that may not be possible for me especially if there is a hot topic for discussion or I want to say something complicated on Twitter and still meet the character limits. As a result, at least for me, taking a whole day off on Sunday seems to work a bit better. But it doesn’t really matter: I’m convinced it’s essential to have a small break; to get away from all the noise and spend some time reflecting and thinking. Daydreaming. Relaxing.

Wasting time and daydreaming: Who knew they would be such refreshing and beneficial ways to spend time.

I look forward to my Screenless Day. I wake up more relaxed and the day just seems more peaceful. I’ve even quit feeling guilty for not pushing myself one day a week and “wasting” time.

Wasting time and daydreaming: Who knew they would be such refreshing and beneficial ways to spend time.

Photo Attribution:

@campaign_creaters via Unsplash

@joannkosinska via Unsplash