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24h screen-free: 6 tips to get the most out of the day

By the PAUSE team

PAUSE 6 tips to get the most out of your 24h screen-free

Whether it’s to break the habit or simply to test yourself, you’ve made the choice to set your screens aside (completely or partially) during the 24h of PAUSE event. Since its first edition in 2019, over 24,000 young Quebecers have taken up this unplugging challenge! Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your experience as well as testimonials from past participants.

1. Prepare mentally and define your goals

Before you start the 24h, take a moment to think about why you want to do this challenge. What would you like to gain from it? Here are a few reasons that other participants have shared:

  • “So I could do a reset. The 24h was a key moment that encouraged me to delete harmful applications and reduce my screen time in the long term.”
  • “To get into a healthier routine; if I can do it for 24 hours, I can keep integrating healthy screen-free habits in my everyday life.”

Then set some clear, realistic goals to help you achieve what you want during the 24h offline and afterwards.

2. Plan out your unplugged day and organize your devices

To get ready to go offline, check your schedule for the day in advance and put away any devices you won’t be needing. Consider turning off your ringer and notifications to minimize distractions. Don’t forget to let your friends and family know you’ll be unplugging. You’ll obviously still be able to use some more practical functions like listening to music or using GPS to get around. Here are a few tips that other participants used to prepare:

  • “I planned a full day of activities with my partner.”
  • “I moved my social media apps to a hidden folder to avoid opening them out of habit.”

The aim is simply to reduce the call of your devices. Also remember to keep your phone out of sight to avoid temptation.

3. Explore new activities and take care of yourself

Take this opportunity to dive into passions and activities that you’d like to discover, or that you may have put aside. Whether it’s reading a book, playing a musical instrument, drawing, cooking or playing sports, let your curiosity and creativity run wild. The 24h challenge can also be an opportunity to slow down and relax a little, so it’s okay if you don’t want to throw yourself into any activities. But whatever your unplugging style, use this occasion to reconnect with friends, family or yourself away from screens. Here’s what others did while offline:

  • “I focused on creative activities.”
  • “I did what I didn’t give myself time to do.”

Don’t hesitate to invite your friends or family members to go offline with you. This can improve your motivation and boost your chances of success!

4. Face challenges and temptations

During the 24h challenge, you might feel the urge to check social media or play video games. That’s totally normal! Other participants also faced these situations:

  • “I live alone. The TV is always on in my house so I don’t feel so lonely. The silence and lack of visual stimulation in my living room was confusing and I almost gave up (but in the end I didn’t).”
  • “I was consumed with curiosity to see if I had any messages from people I really like.”

Find strategies to overcome the temptation to go online. Try practicing mindfulness, immersing yourself in exciting activities, or asking for support from others who have already done the challenge. Keep your personal goals in mind, and remember that there are many thousands of you doing this challenge at the same time!

5. Give yourself time to reflect

Take advantage of this day offline to reflect on the impact of this experience on your life and well-being. How does it make you feel? What positive aspects have you noticed? Do you see your relationship with screens and technology differently? Here’s what other participants have learned about themselves:

  • That they use their screens automatically (67%)
  • That they use their screens when they’re bored (56%)

If you want to go further, write down your observations, discoveries, and emotions. This will help you better understand your relationship with technology, and how screens influence your daily life.

6. Reconnect more mindfully after the 24h challenge

Think about what you’ve learned about yourself during this unplugging experience. How can these insights help you achieve a better balance between screens and other important aspects of your life, such as interpersonal relationships and your overall well-being? Here are a few habits that other participants wanted to maintain following the 24h challenge:

  • “I realized that responding immediately to my messages, especially when I didn’t feel like it, was causing me a lot of anxiety. Now I force myself to respond less to my non-urgent messages.”
  • “I don’t want to look at my cell phone before bed anymore. I’d really like to change my behaviour and prioritize reading.”

After your offline break, you may be worried about going back to using screens intensively. Or that the speed of 5G and the noise of incessant notifications may cause you anxiety. That’s a good sign, because it means that the 24h challenge has changed your relationship with tech! Try to embrace these feelings and don’t hesitate to take your time to gradually reconnect in a more mindful and deliberate way. Give yourself the right to not be reachable all the time in the future (whenever possible). This way, you’ll be able to slow down more easily and cultivate the calm that unplugging has allowed you to appreciate.