It was cold last night. The kind of bitter inclemency where the frigid arctic air seeps through the cracks, condensing and freezing in geometric patterns on the inside of windows, embellishing them with the appearance of shattered glass.

This morning, as the January sun stretched over the horizon, the white-cold hoar frost on naked branches and stiff prairie grasses turned golden, glittering like frozen topaz teardrops on their winter-weary countenance.

I heard an expression recently, and though I can’t recall the exact wording, it carried the idea that there is a vast difference between being busy and being productive. You’ve heard it before, I’m sure, but whittling away our days with administrative and unending tasks – like email, social media, phone calls and text messages, reading news and blogs  –  is not leading us in any way towards meaningful and productive actions.  And while this is easy to recognize, it is not so easy to counter.  I believe there are people in this world who are not bogged down by these things.  They don’t find them interesting or important and so they dictate by their actions (or inactions) how they should be approached.  For example – I don’t text my Mom because I know she won’t respond.  I either text my Dad, or I phone her directly.

I am a very busy Mom. I have 4 boys who need things like food and rides and reminders to bathe, a profession, a small part-time business, a commuting husband – but it’s not necessarily these things and people that eat up my time and cause me to be unproductive.

Last January, our family committed to removing screen entertainment from our lives for one month. Obviously we can’t eliminate completely and still be functioning members of society, hockey teams, and jobs, but we made the decision to say ‘no’ to TV, movies, video games, and social media.  It was a really fantastic experience and a good way to “re-set” our screen-driven mind-set.

This year we are repeating the same experiment. In 4 days I’ve read 2 books, (thank-you, hockey practice), cleaned up the Christmas trees and decorations, nearly finished editing a wedding, cooked good meals, worked at my “real job”, and hosted an overnight guest. And all the other “regular” stuff like unending laundry, chauffeuring, counselling, and tucking in.  I feel inspired – a good book will do that, you know – and I’m looking forward to a little more writing (even if only a sentence or two at a time) and even possibly exploring something new…

If you are even a little like me, and can’t even begin to deny that you have a problem with screen addiction, then I challenge you to consider a little break, a deliberate one, and see where it takes you.