I know what you are thinking, how could I possibly unplug for an entire week from my phone, emails, text and social media? Each year for the past three years I set a week at the  beginning of the summer to completely disconnect. It falls on the week of our family cruise. During this time, I turn my phone off as I enter the boat and do not turn it back on until we return to port.

I challenge each of you to pick a week each year and shut it down. If you can’t remember what life is like without your phone, it is time to unplug. Put your phone in a drawer and don’t take it out. You will be amazed at all that comes to life in that week for you. If I could encourage you to do one thing, it is to set healthy boundaries. Your family deserves the same attention you give your work and business.

This year was incredible. After a day of going through detox, I quickly saw that I was filling my time with hanging with the kids, talking to Ryan, reading, and I even made it to the gym on the ship every day! I was amazed at how much time I felt I had since I wasn’t interacting with my phone. I actually finished two books which is a huge deal from someone like myself who never has the time to read. If you are looking for some book recommendations this summer, I suggest Dare to Lead by Brené Brown and Not Forsaken by Louie Giglio. 

It was amazing how present I was to those around me. It felt like I was truly experiencing the world in real time.  I am like many other Americans who use their phone for business and pleasure, be it reading articles, responding to texts, calls and emails, my to do list is never-ending. While it serves to be convenient, it steals so much time and joy from life. My phone has the ability to dictate my mood, both good and bad, based on what is happening in the moment. Solving problems that are constantly being thrown my way via text or email instantaneously steals my joy and being able to disconnect was the healthy break I needed. That week allowed me to hit the reset button and set some healthy boundaries around my relationship with my phone so that I could come back to the real world and still prioritize myself and my family.

Since returning, I have put into place the 8 to 8 rule. I don’t interact on my phone before 8am or after 8pm. Sharing your boundaries with your partner and the people in your life is key to managing expectations. We all need some healthy boundaries around technology. I encourage you to set some for yourself and your family. Once people know what that looks like, they will know not to expect a response during that time. Even when it feels impossible, stick to the boundaries you set for yourself, no matter how difficult it might be. Respect that time away and truly stay present to those around you. You will notice what a positive, eye-opening impact it will have for you, your work and your relationships.

-Amber Duncan, Founder & CEO

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