Tech Free Survival Guide

Chris Hornung '18

In Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, Ned shares tips and tricks he learns throughout middle school to survive what can only be described as the most awkward years of most people’s lives. With the 2nd annual Tommies Unplugged Technology Mindfulness Week coming up later this month, you will have the opportunity to put yourself in another awkward position! The hallmark event of the week is the No Tech Challenge on February 17th, essentially a Tech Sabbath where you are challenged to go without your electronic devices from sun up until sun down. Sound scary? I promise it doesn’t even come close to middle school! With Ned’s advice in mind, I thought it might be helpful to put together a survival guide of my own to help you make the most out of your day unplugged.

Plan out your day

This is important for a couple of reasons. First, if you’ve got studying or schoolwork to do, you need to remember that you will not be able to use a laptop, tablet, or phone to assist you. While it is possible to work around this in most cases, it is probably your best bet to complete all of your tasks and assignments the day before. This has the added benefit of freeing up your schedule to do something fun on Saturday!

Second, without technology, you won’t be able to call or text your friends to try to set up plans. If you’re like me, this is a big change from the usual last-minute flurry of frantic texts trying to coordinate schedules. As such, you are probably going to need to make plans before Saturday if you want to do anything fun with other people during the day. Also, if you plan on going somewhere, you won’t have a digital map or location hours to reference. Make sure you take this into consideration.

Lastly, it might be helpful to let people know that you are going to be off the grid for a while. If the people you communicate with are used to getting a rapid response from you, they might get a little concerned when you don’t reply for 8 or so hours. I’ll leave that up to you though. 

All this free time, what to do?

Chances are that most of the things you like to do on your weekend involve some sort of electronic device. If you’re stuck trying to figure out how to spend your time, here are some ideas.

Schedule a debate with your friends

A function of Google and social media sits in their ability to learn your preferences over time. As such, they tend to show you news, info, updates, etc. that you like and agree with. This might make your experience more enjoyable, but it also prevents you from seeing information from a different viewpoint. Social media also tends to be a horrible place to talk about controversial topics. Take the time to grab a group of friends (hopefully you have some apposing worldviews) and discuss current important issues. If you set up guidelines to keep the atmosphere cordial and respectful, I think you will really enjoy it! You can find some great ideas for topics here

Read a book 

When is the last time you read a book for fun? Reading is a great way to relax, gain knowledge, and see the world through a different lens. Unfortunately, most of us feel like we can’t carve out enough time to curl up with a good book. I think we miss out when we don’t read. Did you know that a common theme among the most successful individuals in the world is their reading habits? Correlation does not equal causation but your day unplugged might be a great time to get in the groove of making reading a part of your daily routine. Check out the Tommies Unplugged reading list for some book ideas. 

Make a 5-year plan 

College is a busy period of our lives. Unfortunately, we can get so caught up in the day to day that we lose track of our long-term goals. Without any external gadgets to distract you, you could use this time to envision what your future might look like and get it on paper. A 5-year plan can help you start to think more broadly about your career and life goals while holding you accountable for completing them! They also make it pretty cool to see what you accomplish in a given timeframe. Here is a 5-year plan template to get you started. You can get it to fit on one sheet by tweaking the print settings. 

Get Outside

We pride ourselves on being hearty Minnesotans who live for the chill of winter. Take your time unplugged to enjoy mother nature! There are a bunch of places to go and sights to see near campus! I will probably be here

I hope that the No Tech Challenge is a fun and insightful experience to those that participate. If it still sounds scary, just remember that this is only eight hours, middle school was two years! The No Tech Challenge should help you reframe your idea of time and focus. It will also likely give you a greater appreciation for the modern tools we use on a daily basis, maybe even a better understanding of why we feel stressed when we don’t have them. Good luck and be thankful you’re no longer a pre-teen!

For more information and tips on how to improve your relationship with technology visit the Tommies Unplugged webpage at