If someone asked me a year ago, “Could you go device free for a couple of days?” I would have said, “No way.” But that is exactly what I did last year for two weeks during the winter holidays.
My husband’s family lives abroad, and we decided it would be great to have a family reunion so the kids could meet their grandmother — it has been awhile since we last saw them all. While I was packing my kids’ things, a thought popped in my head: What if we were to leave their iPads behind?
I remembered the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017), where Susan, the mother, took everyone’s devices so they could have fun together during their road trip. I thought, What if we were to do the same?
That meant I couldn’t use my devices either, though — yikes! Could I really do that?
I debated with myself for a couple of days and thought about the pros and cons. I finally decided: Let’s do this. When I mentioned it to my family, my husband was excited and on board right away. My kids, on the other hand, were extremely upset! They told me they would get bored. I told them the whole purpose of this trip was to connect with our family in person and be in the moment together.
We had such a wonderful time. It was great to visit with everyone, see different places, and simply enjoy life. Now thinking back, I am so grateful for this trip — shortly after, the pandemic started and changed our lives forever.
My kids did pretty well without their devices for two weeks; however, I did catch them a handful of times sneaking away to play with their aunt’s tablet. For me, something amazing happened: for the first time in a long time, I got to just sit around — doing nothing — and let my mind wander. I reflected on my life over the past couple of years, working a crazy number of hours, constantly feeling rushed, and longing for deeper fulfillment. I asked myself what would I do more of the next year if I had more time.
- I would spend more time with my kids and my family.
- I would exercise more and take care of my health.
- I would find more time to read and write.
- I would take on new challenges that will help me grow.
- I would find excuses to celebrate more.
When I returned home from my vacation, I started researching time management — there are a ton of resources out there! As I was researching, I came to the conclusion that I needed to be more intentional with my time. Instead of hoping I would get to it eventually, I needed to carve out time each day and make it happen. Also, what works for one person may not work for someone else.
I chose a couple of lofty goals for the whole year and one or two for each month — both strategic work initiatives and personal growth initiatives — giving myself target timeframes so I could measure myself. I also started creating daily achievable goals based on impact and priority. When I accomplished them, I wrapped up for the day and called it a win. Then, I enjoyed the remaining time with my kids and focused on myself. Although I had some hiccups along the way, this framework worked pretty well for me.
I am thankful I started this year in a positive frame of mind because 2020 has been so rough on all of us as we have had to take on and balance additional responsibilities we did not have the year before.
The winter holidays are coming up. I have decided to go device free again and encourage my family to do the same. We will spend time with each other, be present and grateful, and anticipate a new year filled with new possibilities!
About the Author
Reshma turns ideas into reality by connecting strategy with execution and helping teams consistently deliver high-quality products and business outcomes. She is a Principal Program Manager at Sophos. You can find her on her website rshahabuddin.com.