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Why it’s good to get off the grid

A few days without your phone can free the mind.

If you’re like me, your smart phone is the last item you put down before bed and the first thing you pick up in the morning. How would you feel if you were asked to turn if off for 72 hours? Anxious, unproductive, disconnected?

That’s how I felt in the days leading to my church retreat. It was recommended that retreat participants turn off phones for the weekend. We were told our phones would distract us from understanding the fullness of the retreat. I surprisingly didn’t succumb to the temptation of turning on my phone, and emerged after 72 hours off the grid with more focus. Here’s what I learned:

It gets easier.
On night one, I kept thinking about all of the important texts and business I was missing. You see, I usually put myself to sleep by checking the overnight market trades and refreshing social media feeds.

By night two, a weight was lifted and I didn’t feel obligated to check my phone. I see now that checking markets before bed doesn't create a good sleeping environment. No matter what direction the markets are headed at 10 p.m., whether up, down, or sideways, the simple act of checking them creates some stress that should wait until morning.

We check the markets too often.
Back in my grain elevator days, I had a customer call three times a day to check the markets. I got annoyed trying to explain to him why corn was up or down a penny and thinking that a one penny move didn’t matter much. Today, I check the markets way more than that customer who used to annoy me. Being off the grid made me realize that I spend too much time looking at daily movement. I figuratively can’t see the forest from the trees when I'm sucked into analyzing daily movements. Knowing if soybeans were up a penny a week ago Tuesday isn’t as important as knowing where soybeans need to be to make profitable sales.

It’s OK to not think about the farm.
Every person I know says he/she couldn’t survive without a phone. I'm also guilty of thinking I’m super important and need to be accessible at all times. The farm survived the 72 hours without me. I planned hay deliveries ahead of time and advised people to call my dad during that period if they needed anything. I made arrangements to get the cows fed. To-do lists combined with responsible and self-starting employees makes a weekend away not difficult.

No, I’m not going to get rid of my smartphone. But, I do plan to be more intentional with my time spent on that phone. A few days off the grid, whether it be for a vacation or maybe you accidentally run over your phone with the tractor tire, can free the mind. Clearing our minds of social media clutter helps us focus on what’s important.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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