For four of the past five days, I’ve stayed off email and text after 12:00 p.m.
On Friday, I tried an experiment. After dinner, I got online and browsed entertainment sites for an hour: Pinterest, Buzzfeed, et cetera. After watching a few episodes of Ripper Street, I went to bed at the normal time, and guess what? My mind was ping-ponging on all sorts of subjects without my consent. I tried to quiet it down but couldn’t. Sleep was fitful.
Last night, I stayed off the Internet entirely after 11:00 a.m. I worked on an editing project until 2:00 p.m., but the only reason I got online was to look up a definition on Merriam-Webster or to fact-check abbreviations. I stayed away from email, and I didn’t surf. After watching a movie, I went to bed and was pretty shocked to realize that there were no thoughts buzzing around other than the soft lyrics of a Mumford & Sons song I’d listened to on a hike earlier in the afternoon. Sleep came quickly and was restful.
The difference between the two experiences was startling and made me see very clearly how browsing for browsing’s sake affects my thought processes: namely, my ability (or really, non-ability) to focus.
The lesson is simple:
Stay offline, and stay centered.
And the best part? As my kid watches me learn these lessons, he’s learning them too.