Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Simple Living Challenge - Days 2, 3 & 4

I'm still following Kindspring's Simple Living challenge. I'm not keeping up with the challenges on a daily basis - a long weekend away with no internet access has put me out of sync slightly. (Although the weekend was a meditation retreat so dovetailed very well with the Simple Living theme.)

Day 2 of the challenge was good preparation for someone heading for a device free meditation weekend. The challenge was to 'Make time to unplug and enjoy some screen free time.' I'm always banging on about this to my kids so this was right up my street.  I even blogged about this very topic a couple of years ago. I was really keen to get the whole family on board for the Day 2 challenge, boldly declaring it to be a Screen-free Sunday. Mid-morning arrived and I was the only one still on board...*sighs*

Apart from two minor transgressions, for me - the solo challengee, the whole day passed with no smartphone, no TV, no PC. Despite being a blogger, I would consider myself a low level 'device' user. I'm a notoriously sporadic blogger, not very active Facebook user and practically non-existent Twitterer. I anticipated that the day would be a breeze and the no TV and no PC part was. However I was really surprised, even shocked, by how many times I had to 'surf the urge' to check my phone. There were some useful revelations from the day - nothing earth shattering but notable none the less:

1) My phone makes me lazy - for example, I reached for (but resisted) it straight away when I awoke, to check the time...I don't need a phone for this...

2) The day seemed waaay longer than a usual Sunday and I got loads of real world jobs done; most notably a pile of mending that had been demanding my attention for several weeks, and I guzzled a good chunk of my book. It's easy to get distracted once interacting with a screen - if I check my phone to see if there are any text messages, then it's all too easy to pick up my emails as well, and if there's an interesting link to a web page in the email then I'm gone, and what was a 30 second job has turned into twenty five minutes reading stuff that I didn't mean to. With none of that going on during my screen free day, it's easy to see how I apparently gained time!

3) Technology engenders a false sense of urgency and immediacy. Maybe I lead a less exciting life than many but most of the messages I would have sent or responded to came to no harm by being actioned the following day. 

To conclude, I really enjoyed this challenge and would like to aim for a screen-free day every weekend.

As for my minor transgressions? I had a really quick look at my text message inbox last thing on Sunday night, just to check there was nothing urgent relating to the week ahead. There was not. I clearly have delusions of being important.

The other transgression was using my Insight Timer app, which leads me nicely to Day 3 'Spend ten minutes in silence'. I've been trying to be a meditator for a long, long time now, so Day 3's challenge was no stranger. Although the brief did not stipulate that you had to spend ten minutes meditating, I decided that my daily 'sit' would fit the bill. Now that mindfulness and meditation are trendy, there are many websites and apps to support a home practice; since acquiring a basic smart phone last year, I use an app called Insight Timer. 

It allows you to choose a singing bowl type bell to sound when your time is up, or set it to ring at various intervals during your 'sit'. There are guided meditations to listen to and you can see how many other Insight Timer people are meditating around the world and buddy up if you want to. I have a few meditating friends in my online Insight Timer community, ranging from real people I know locally, to people in Australia, Germany, Italy, the US and Canada. I've overcome my initial scepticism and it's probably my favourite app of the few I use; I allowed it through the net on my screen-free day. The irony in using a digital app to help develop a steady mind with the potential to be less distracted by, amongst other things, the digital world, does not escape me...

Day 4's challenge was to clear out your Inbox. Having a very full email inbox does not bother me at all, so I focused on my real inbox and spent 15 minutes de-cluttering papers that were no longer needed. This was a challenge I could use more often.

That's probably as much simple living as you can take in one blog post, so I shall leave it there for now.


  1. Sara(h) I am trying to remember if you have an 'h' in your name. I am leaning towards not... anyways, isn't it funny how no screen time increases the amount of time in the day? I don't have a smart phone, facebook, twitter, or anything bar a basic blog for this very reason. I don't have the self-discipline to say away from them. Also, I like reading too much, and find I miss it when I spend too much time on-line. Also, I find it impossible to fall asleep after I have been on-line, while reading lets me drift straight off. I have no explanation for this, other than that the screen itself may be overstimulating to the brain? Who knows? I am enjoying popping in and seeing what your challenge throws up next, reading about how you do at it, then merely commenting on it myself:) Vicarious self-improvement!

    1. Yes, I find it difficult to fall asleep if I've been on a screen too near bedtime - I think that's a recognised thing. Good for you for resisting all the online stuff. You're not missing much...!

  2. Your blog was well put and I really enjoyed reading it. One thing it did make me think about is that I feel we do much more nowadays (and expect to do more) than we did say 30 years ago. For some people a lot of their free time was taken up solely by watching TV and being v insular - nowadays at least the social media is forcing us to be more global and usually in a good way like your app.. Therefore it is not all bad - just a matter of balance (which is the hardest thing!)

  3. After you mentioned that your were doing this challenge, I went over and signed up. I am mostly doing okay although am a little off with the timing like you. I should blog my update also.

    1. I need to check out your blog and see how you are doing!