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What I Learned From A Week Of Limiting My Tech Use

For a week, I totally changed my habits and followed a daily routine in hopes of becoming more productive. Here's how it went.

What I Learned From A Week Of Limiting My Tech Use
[Photo: Flickr user Zepfanman.com]

True story: I love productivity and life-improvement hacks. I love them so much that I’ve tried them all, from the Pomodoro Technique to the Eisenhower Method.

So, when The Muse recently published an article about fitness coach Craig Ballantyne’s 10-3-2-1-0 rule, I knew I had to give it a shot. And for science’s sake, I recorded my results for you.

No, really. I lived by the rule for seven days, stuck to it religiously, and ended up with some good conclusions that I think might inspire you to check it out.

What Is The 10-3-2-1-0 Rule?

Before I dive into my experiment and what ended up happening, I should probably start by explaining what these numbers are all about.

  • 10 hours before bed: no more caffeine
  • 3 hours before bed: no more food or alcohol
  • 2 hours before bed: no more work
  • 1 hour before bed: no more screen time
  • 0: the number of times you hit the snooze button in the morning

Basically, the idea here is to give yourself a daily routine that makes you more productive by allowing you to fall sleep quickly, stay asleep, and wake up feeling ready to tackle your day. If this is done "correctly," you shouldn’t feel the need to slam your hand on the snooze button or toss and turn throughout the night. Sounds amazing, right?

My Grand Hypothesis

I’ll admit, I went into this one with a little anxiety—you know, over the whole "not being able to do things when I wanted to" part of it. I’m always a little skeptical of productivity hacks that require you to put limitations on how you live your life. What if I got hungry right before bed? What if a big work emergency came up but I didn’t have my phone out? What if news broke and I couldn’t watch it live because no screens? How would I survive?

I predicted I wouldn’t. Well, I mean, obviously I’d survive—but I wouldn’t survive in one piece. Naturally, I assumed I’d end the week feeling exhausted from keeping up with the timing of everything and that it’d be unsustainable. Plus, would I really learn anything all that insightful about my work habits? I wasn’t convinced.

The Results

Twist: I actually really liked the 10-3-2-1-0 rule! Interestingly, the part of the experiment I thought would give me the most trouble gave me the least. Plus, it brought a few other issues to light.

The Anxiety
For one, I actually didn’t have that much anxiety about stopping work two hours before bed. I’m a huge TV junkie, so getting excited about shows throughout the day and powering down my laptop to turn on Survivor or The Voice became a fun daily ritual. And on other days, when my shows weren’t on, I hung out with friends or read. The rule reminded me that it’s important to treat yourself every single day, which can definitely be a challenge for some people (ahem me).

The Addiction
In contrast, what I didn’t originally anticipate being a problem is how truly attached I am to screens. In fact, I believe the word may be addicted. On the first night, I shut down my laptop and vowed to read a book before bed to keep up with the "no screen time an hour before shut-eye" rule—but then I subconsciously picked up my phone almost immediately. I wasn’t even trying to answer emails or do any work; my fingers mindlessly went straight to Instagram, where I scrolled with no purpose.

After dealing with this two nights in a row, I decided to charge it at an outlet across my bedroom. Yes, I experienced a bad case of phantom phone hands for the next couple of nights, but after a week, I finally started to recover. I’m even thinking of just buying an old-fashioned alarm clock so I don’t even have to keep my phone in my room for that reason.

The Pointless Popcorn
Finally, the other possibly life-changing observation I noticed is how much I enjoy late-night snacking, even if I’m not that hungry. Just like my phone, I’d immediately grab a bowl of popcorn or chips to relax. Well, it turns out that I really am able to fall asleep faster on an emptier stomach. Who knew?

Overall, while I probably won’t follow the exact 10-3-2-1-0 rule to a T from here on out (hey, stuff comes up), I definitely want to avoid drinking caffeine in the afternoon, eating late-night snacks when I’m not hungry, working right up until lights out, and having my phone within reach at all times.

These aren’t groundbreaking conclusions, but they are game changers for me, so I’d definitely recommend you try this out. Trust me, you’ll learn something.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Muse and is reprinted with permission.

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