Fix your life with smartphone-free Sundays

Summary:Reduce your device-induced anxiety by leaving your phone home at least one day a week. And cook up some ribs and have a few margaritas while you're at it.

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Early May is probably the best time of year in South Florida. It's very warm, but it isn't too hot in the daytime.

It's warm enough that you can use your pool and not to have to heat it, and it retains enough heat from sun exposure during the day to use during the evenings.

Firing up the hot tub only takes an hour or two, and you can stay in it longer because the ambient temperature outside isn't that hot.

You can stay outside for extended periods during the evening, feeling the cool tropical breeze.

The insects haven't started to go crazy yet either. Early May is a great time to just relax on the patio with friends. To have a few margaritas. To eat guacamole and chips. To talk.

To socialize, in the purely human, face-to-face sense of the word.

This weekend my wife and I decided we were going to take advantage of the weather, put our devices away and focus on our face-to-face relationships.

I spent all Saturday afternoon barbecuing up some ribs and chicken for some friends I had invited over for that evening, which concluded in watching "Frozen" and sitting in the hot tub.

Barbecue, by the way, is an excellent way of ensuring you spend more time with friends and family than you do with your mobile device.

Unlike grilling, it's a low and slow cooking method that at its speediest, takes several hours to do properly.

Chickens take about an hour and a half. Ribs take four to six hours at sustained temperatures of around 225 to 260 degrees depending on what cut you're smoking and more ambitious BBQ projects such as pork shoulders or briskets can take 10-14 hours or even longer depending on the weight of what you're cooking.

There's not a lot of room for messing around with your smartphone, twitter and social networks when serious BBQ is concerned

Paying attention to thermal management is key to get best results with BBQ. And ideally, it's best to have friends around to help you keep an eye on things, if not just to shoot the breeze and to knock out a few dead soldiers while accomplishing the task.  

There's not a lot of room for messing around with your smartphone, Twitter and social networks when serious BBQ is concerned. Sure, we have some cool tech tools at our disposal to enhance the experience and to improve consistency, but ultimately this is a low-tech, highly social activity.

On Sunday afternoon, my wife and I went out and had dim sum with a dozen people. I didn't look at my phone the whole time. Hell, I didn't even bother to Instagram a single thing we ate, which is a big deal for me being a food blogger.

Then we spent a very leisurely evening at our friends' house, where we drank watermelon margaritas, ate fresh guacamole, and had lovely vegetarian Mexican dinner, in honor of the greatest American booze consumption holiday in the world, Cinco de Mayo. 

We sat around for hours on the patio just talking. We did bring out a tablet to play a funny video my friend brought up in conversation, but nobody was staring at phones like a bunch of antisocial teens or dare I say it, a gaggle of milennials out on a couples date.

Both days I left my smartphone at home. Initially, there was some anxiety involved, but if someone in the immediate family needed to reach us over the weekend, they would have phoned us.

My wife also keeps her phone in her purse. So at least one of us had that critical communications device with us if we really needed it.

Let me suggest this experimentally: During the weekends, leave the phone plugged in to charge when you are at home and only use it for calls. Keep off the tablets and the PCs as much as possible.

And when you leave the house, only have one adult carry a phone. If you have kids, and they are accompanying you out for dinner or another family or group event, make them leave the devices at home.

And if you are going out on a group date, do what my wife and her girlfriends do on Girls Night Out. Put the smartphones in a pile at the center of the table, and the first one to pick their device up picks up the check for the whole table.

I know for many of you this is a lot harder than it sounds. The results of a recently released study conducted by the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and Bovitz, Inc. show that going a day without a smartphone — let alone spending an evening with friends without their precious device — is something many American adults find incredibly challenging.

Nearly one-third of all respondents said that if they left home without their mobile device, they would go home for it. And only twelve percent of millenials surveyed said that under any conditions and distance from their home would they not return to pick up the device. 

I'm the first to admit that I need my smartphone. My job at Microsoft pretty much requires I carry one to be able to respond to partners and other people I work with in a timely fashion with if I'm away from my desk, even if it's simply to acknowledge a meeting request or to say "I'll get back to this as soon as I'm back at the office."

But on the weekends? On a Sunday? Not so much. If I'm responding to work emails on the weekend (yes, I do this) then it's my fault and nobody else's. 

I realize not everyone lives in a tropical climate like I do. However, no matter where you live, try to pretend that every weekend this summer is like going on vacation to some remote island in the Caribbean with no practical internet access.

It will do wonders for your social life, as well as any device-induced anxiety that you almost certainly are plagued with.

Have you tried leaving your smartphone at home on the weekends?

Topics: Smartphones, Mobility

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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