Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The 7-Day Media Fast

Last Week, I suddenly challenged myself and my family to a 7-Day Media Fast. I was in the middle of assessing my life goals and completing Step 3 of the "I Dare You to Change Challenge" (if you do not already own a copy of I Dare You to Change by Bil Cornelius, I highly recommend you buy a copy. Click here.) I had written down as one of my challenges to begin eliminating from my life the things that get in the way of living a changed life. Time needed to be freed up in order to be a better husband, father, author, and more.

Time, where the heck am I going to find more time? 

Ironically, I was logged into Facebook, Twitter, and answering e-mails (even though I set specific times to return emails). My rear end had not left my desk chair for hours. What had I really accomplished in that time? Other than evaluating some goals, most of that time had been wasted on videos and video games as well as responding to a lot of posts on Facebook and Twitter. This would take away from family time as I had to work to catch up later. At that point in time, I truly felt more plugged into the world than with God, my own family, and with my own goals in life.

So, I proposed the following to Olivia, and she agreed to go for it. For 7 days as a family, we would cut ourselves off from the following:
  • watching television
  • surfing the Web
  • playing video games (computer and hand held devices included), 
  • movies
  • social media .  No Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, or blogging (on computer or on the phone), 
  • e-mail except for work or ministry business
  • text messaging except for work or ministry business (certain family members were allowed)
  • music was allowed but only as a community enjoyment, no headsets were allowed
  • phone calls were allowed for work between 9am and 5pm. Calls went to voicemail on Saturday and Sunday, later all calls went to voicemail then I set a couple of times to return calls after listening to voicemails and determining priority. Most calls could be handled without a call back. Personal calls, Liv and I would confer. We had to have flexibility here because Liv's grandmother, Noelia Morales, had passed away, and we had also agreed to be references for some friends who are adopting a child. Think this can't work? I managed to make all my appointments, schedule a real estate closing and write up two offers during this time. I did not miss anything.
The family goal was to stay connected with each other rather than connected to our electronic devices.

There was no punishment if we broke this. The challenge was to fill that void with quality time spent with the people we lived with. If we weren't willing to do this on our own free will, it wasn't worth doing at all. Our kids definitely groaned on the first day and referred to the experience as "torture", more accurately, "Dad's torturing us," was what they called it. Yeah, somehow, Liv didn't get blamed for agreeing to do this. This sucked, so it must have been Dad's idea. Not fair, but oh well.

Here were some of our expected results which we saw:
  • I was able to work on my book for at least 1 hour each day.
  • I had time to go walking through my neighborhood (fitness) and get some stuff done around the house like mowing my yard.
  • Instead of lounging around on a Saturday, we had a family day at the museum, lunch, shopping, and more.
  • I finished work quickly. In fact, I was able to take Wednesday off from working and spent the entire day with Liv! In fact, Wednesday's goal was to ask Liv to go on a post-lunch walk with me, and it turned into a full day with her. I'm not trading that for anything.
  • I was actually achieving my goals for each day.
There were even some unexpected results that were well worth the effort.  Our kids did not fight like they usually do. After a quick bicker, they agreed on a solution and resolved whatever they were about to fight over. They resolved issues on their own! We went to bed at an earlier hour, had a fuller day, and enjoyed time together as a family. We played games instead of watching tv. Our kids played with their toys, and even shared on occasion. Emma took up teaching Origami classes to us . I learned that Jacob is an A&M Aggies fan. I did not know that, but I do now. He REALLY likes them, and tried all week to bring Emma and I on board with him.

I also learned that Jacob and I have interests in doing archery, fishing, and shooting. He's not into camping, unless we get to hunt down some wildlife and shoot something at it whether it's bait, arrows, or bullets. With the tv off, we spent more time with Jacob on his homework to iron out some kinks he has had with school With no hope of watching tv, he also didn't try to rush through like usual. There was no tv to go to afterwards. I really got to spend time with my kids, playing games, reading books, riding bicycles, and I got to spend time with Liv talking and getting to know her a little better, too.

Even though this was a 7-Day personal challenge, we are talking about implementing something permanently since we had such great results with our kids that we did not expect. We are talking about no tv allowed Monday through Friday with limited computer time during the week. On the weekends, we'll allow limited tv time, limited computer time, and make time to do a family outing of some kind. I may have to keep this going just for myself as well. I was able to get stuff done! I loved it!

I will stay connected, of course, however, I do put value in taking a week or so to simply "unplug" as if it were a vacation. I would even venture to find a way to make staying unplugged a lifestyle (or limiting how often and how much I am plugged into the world through social media and television). Tim Ferriss has found a way and shares it in his book, The 4-Hour Work Week. I definitely recommend you read that.

The end result, I can enjoy life without tv.

1 comment:

  1. For some folks, TV & Social Media aren't the things taking away from time with family. Fishing, hunting, watching sports at the local sports bar with the buddies, the book-of-the-month club, maybe you're overwhelmed with being just a chauffeur for the kids because you just have to have them in all those activities. When I die, I know I won't be wishing I worked one more day at the office, or caught one more fish. I will want more time with my loved ones.


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