unplugIn the movie “Field of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner, Archie “Moonlight” Graham says, “We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening.” That is so true if we’re not paying attention and focused on what is happening in front of us. 

At her wedding, my daughter Nicole insisted that we all put our phones away and “be in the moment”. That way we didn’t miss the important moments while trying to get the perfect picture of the bride and groom. When we teach our staff during staff development week, we talk about being present in each moment. 

Do you ever feel addicted to your phone or find that your whole day is spent staring at a screen? I certainly do! And my wife would agree, even if sometimes it’s my laptop. I was once “caught” on TV attending a Blue Jays game and they showed me looking at my phone. OOPS. 

I have heard that this “addiction” to technology is not necessarily bad nor should we feel guilty about it. We should simply find time to “disconnect to reconnect.” Here are several strategies that offer us an opportunity to reclaim our “me time” and “people time” offering us more time to connect with others. 

  • Eat at least 1 meal a day without a device: Use this time for yourself or to be fully present with others.
  • Use the phone first to contact people: There is a more personal connection when speaking with someone on the phone instead of texting or e-mailing. 
  • Schedule mini breaks throughout the day or mini “digital detoxes” where you are not connected to your phone, laptop, tablet, TV, radio, etc.
  • Give your eyes a break and follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes look at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Also, walk around from time to time. 
  • Set a technology curfew: Turn off your phone and television 60 – 90 minutes before bed. You will likely get better sleep as a result. Personally, I struggle with this one. 
  • Avoid multi-tasking: No one is as good at multi-tasking as they think. Instead of multi-tasking, create a schedule for yourself each day. I do this a LOT!!
  • Disable push notifications on your phone that are not critical: This will help eliminate unneeded digital distractions.
  • Create tech-free walls/areas in your home: There should be certain places in your home where technology is not used (like the bathroom, for example). I do this too often to be sure.

One of the things I enjoy most about camp is that I can digitally detox. I can be fully present in each moment of camp because I am not distracted by the many different forms of technology. At Widji, there is a mostly no cell phone policy and we do not have any activities that involve video games or computers. No one is walking around camp bumping into each other because they are staring at their cell phones. Everyone is fully present in the moment.

I admit that separating from my phone during the day is always a bit of a challenge. I can be completely plugged into all the wonderful things that are happening… and then it is always fun looking at my phone at the end of the day (absence does make the heart grow fonder after all).

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