Screen Free Bedroom Experiment Results

It’s been thirty days since I embarked upon the Screen Free Bedroom experiment and took my computer, iPad, and iPhone out of my bedroom. There have been several times when I’ve regretted not having my phone, namely when I’ve gotten text message at night after I went to bed or early in the morning before I’ve gotten out of bed.  Generally, I’ve let the late night texts go without getting up to check my phone, even though I’ve been very curious about what they might be.  When I’ve received early morning texts, I’ve gotten out of my nice warm bed, stuck my feet in my slippers and tiptoed shivering to the living room to see what’s what.  There’s no logical reason for the library to text me at 6:30 AM to let me know my books have arrived, but yet that’s when they let me know.  Other times it’s been family members and I’ve been happy to endure the chilly January weather.

Speaking of the weather, it bothered me at first that I didn’t know the temperature or the windchill before I headed outside to see what the chickens were up to and to take Hannah for a walkabout.  Then I realized it didn’t really matter – it’s January in Michigan and it’s cold.  Knowing the actual temperature or windchill is irrelevant – I am still going to wear all the clothes I can.  If I go out and the weather is warmish – what a delightful surprise!

The main reason I decided to do this experiment was to see if my sleeping pattern and quality of sleep would improve, and while I would like to say there’s been no difference, sadly, that’s not the case.  For many, many years I’ve been able to fall asleep within a few moments of deciding I want to go to sleep. Many people have told me that they are jealous of this ability, but it’s one that I had to cultivate over time.  Going to bed used to consist of worrying about things that had occurred during the day, things I needed to do, things that I feared, things that I wanted, things I was planning to say to people, really lots and lots of things.  Somewhere I heard or read that instead of worrying about the same things over and over non-stop, I should determine to worry for just ten minutes.  This seemed logical since, after all, I did worry about the same things day after day and the same thoughts swirled constantly through my mind.  After some practice, I was able to limit my worrying to ten minutes and over a time, it seemed silly to even worry for ten minutes, because as Matthew says in his gospel, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” The answer is no, so why do it?

Where I struggle, however, is with staying asleep. If I wake up really early, it’s difficult to fall back asleep, which is why I typically reach for my iPad and start the daily ritual of checking my email, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn if I’m wondering what my former colleagues are up to, the news, playing a game of Scrabble or Free Cell, or reading an eBook. Flitting from app to app would fill the hour or two (or sometimes three) of time before it was time to officially start the day.

Without that slim device within my reach, I’ve been able to sleep longer and even when I woke up early, was able to fall back asleep about fifty percent of the time.  My normal six hours of sleep has increased to seven, and that’s after just one month. The other weird thing I noticed once I borrowed my Mom’s old wind up clock was that I’m now able to sense what time it is rather than just using the digital display on my iPad.  Initially I had no idea how long I had been reading and would get out of bed multiple times to see what time it was.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that I feel calmer.  While flitting from app to app was very entertaining, I think it had a detrimental affect on my brain.  I’d get out of bed with a million things on my mind, feeling like I had tons of stuff to do and that there wasn’t going to be time to do it all. It’s as if I willingly gave control of my day to someone else and now I’ve decided to take it back. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have read so many books this month, about twenty-six so far.  Since I’ve been wanting to have more time to read, this has been a huge bonus.  It also seems like I’m able to remember more of what I’ve read, likely because I’m not trying to get through it so I can move on to something else on my iPad.

So where have I landed with this experiment?  It seems that the benefits have outweighed the inconveniences so I’m going to keep going, at least for another sixty days.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to get to the elusive eight hours of sleep that we are said to require. Hopefully the library will be okay with me checking out eight books a week for the next couple of months . . .

How about you? Do you keep your phone, tablet, computer, or TV in your room?  Do you think it affects how well you sleep?  Do you think it impacts any other area in your life?  If you’ve done a similar experiment, please share in the comments or on Facebook.

January Spending Fast

In January of 2015 I embarked on my first spending fast, based on the book 21 Days To Financial Freedom by Michelle Singletary.  It was my first experiment with deliberately not spending money on anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary.  It challenged me to be very creative in meal planning as well figure out what free entertainment was available in my area.  Errands were postponed to save on gas and I walked to the library for books and free movies. You can read more about that journey here.  In January 2016, I didn’t do a formal fast because I was working on some aggressive savings goals so that I could retire later that year.  Every month that year was a thirty day spending fast and I was able to reach my goal and retired in November.  

This year, like last year, despite being on my normal tight budget, I’m doing the fast again.  It never ceases to surprise me how many times I think of something I would like to buy and have to remind myself that it will have to wait until February.  The curious thing is that most of the time I completely forget about whatever it was that I wanted to buy in that moment. In fact, I distinctly remember telling myself that I could buy something in February, but I no longer recall what it was!

Online retailers have made buying things so easy that it takes very little effort to click a button and have something delivered straight to my door. This is why I keep all my disposable monthly income in the form of cash. It hurts to spend cash, especially when there is a finite amount of it. It makes the decision of whether to make a purchase very deliberate. If I’ve budgeted a hundred and fifty dollars for groceries, it’s the 25th of the month, and I’m down to my last five dollars, it’s very easy to decide that I don’t need that delicious bar of organic free trade chocolate or Lay’s Lightly Salted Potato Chips (you can read about my undying affection for these chips here) and should probably opt for some fresh veggies instead. 

If you’ve ever wanted to find out where your money goes, get your debt under control, or try to figure out how to save for something big, I recommend the following resources:

  • Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Hands down the best book I’ve ever read for getting out of debt – so good, in fact, that I’ve used it twice to get my debt under control (some life lessons are much harder to learn than others)!  Dave designed a curriculum called Financial Peace, which I’ve not only gone through, but facilitated – it’s that good!  If you ever have the opportunity to see Dave live, I promise – you will be inspired to make changes.
  • How to Get Out Of Debt, Stay Out Of Debt, And Live Prosperously by Jerrold Mundis.  There are great tips in this book and I still use a modified version of the Spending Plan to track where my money goes every month.
  • 21 Days to Financial Freedom by Michelle Singletary.  Michelle’s book is a great resource for understanding your relationship with money and learning a better way to do things.
  • Living Well & Spending Less by Ruth Soukup.  Ruth also has an online course, Living Well Spending Zero, which walks you through a 31 Day spending fast.  It’s great for looking at what you already own and determining what to do with it, whether it’s finally eating the beets in the pantry because you’re not buying groceries until you use what you already have or decluttering to make more space in your life for the things that matter more.

Have you ever completed a spending fast?  Please tell about your journey using the comments button or by leaving a reply on Facebook. If money or debt is something that is causing you a lot of pain right now and you’d prefer that the world not know, but want to talk, please feel free to send me a private message.

Impromptu Experiment

This week I’m trying a new experiment – one to which I hadn’t given any previous thought.  Life is like that sometimes – at least it is for me!  Earlier in the week, I had the joy of being able to spend time with my youngest grandson.  After a couple of days of seeing his little face all the time, it’s really hard to leave and go home.

See why it’s so hard to leave this guy?

Since he’s still at the age where he takes three naps a day, I take my computer along with me so I can do some email or write or do research or, let’s be honest, waste some time on the Internet.  In addition to my backpack for staying overnight, a cooler (for snacks I brought along), a bag of groceries I’d picked up on the way there, and my purse, I had an enormous bag of books I picked up at the library on the way there (I’m going through A LOT of books now that I’m doing the screen free bedroom!) Somehow I left behind my laptop and didn’t realize it until later that night when I went to use it.

After briefly considering driving back the next day to retrieve it (and my sweet daughter-in-law even offered to bring it halfway), I decided it was a good opportunity to do an experiment to see how it would feel to be without it for a week.  Fortunately, I’m able to use my aunt’s dinosaur of a computer for some things.  Except that it took me a long time to remember how to get to the backend of the blog so I could actually write and post something.  Unfortunately the document with all my notes and blog posts I’ve started is on my laptop so I’ve had to wing it.

Flying by the seat of my pants isn’t normally how I like to do things, but I didn’t want to go for another week without posting.  The screen free bedroom experiment is going well, especially now that Baby Ben is hanging out in my room with me.  As long as I remember to wind him every day, I can tell what time it is without having to get out of bed.  With temperatures and wind chills hovering in the teens and single digits for days and days, this has been a godsend.

Thanks for letting me borrow Baby Ben, Mom!

Once I have my computer back, I’ll post an update about this year’s Spending Fast.  If you’ve never done a Spending Fast, I highly recommend it!  If you’d like to read some of my insights about previous years, please feel free to go here to check it out.

It’s taken a lot of time to get even this little post written and ready to go so I’m not sure how many more I will do before I get my computer back.  How do you handle the unexpected?  Are you able to go with the flow or does it ruin your day?  Please leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook!