How often do you unplug? I mean really unplug? I’ve been without internet service while on vacation, but that’s about the extent of it. It’s never been a true “digital detox”. Navigating this world of internet, social media, texts, email, Pinterest, Instagram and the constant influx of information, photos, updates and pings can be an exhausting and addictive thing.
I am as guilty as the next person with the constant “need to know” or merely find a distraction when given the opportunity. I think back on my endless hours sitting in the car when my boys were younger going from one carpool line to another. Back then I could sit and read. I always had a devotional book in the car or whatever book I was reading. Sometimes I would just sit and think and appreciate the quiet in the car. These days when I am waiting in a car I find myself automatically going to my phone – checking Facebook, texting, checking Instagram or email. Sometimes I might read, but if I’m honest, not as often as I am using my phone as a time filler. When at home working on the computer I find myself checking emails and then becoming distracted by some blurb or instant message or a text on my phone so that my original focus is completely gone. I might spend twice as long doing a little research because I can’t stay on one platform without being coaxed to another. Often I might be working on this blog, creating a class playlist, writing or researching a topic, and I justify my time on the internet as trying to improve this site and attempting to keep up with those who are much better at this technology thing than I am. I spend a lot of time spinning my wheels because the world we live in is geared to keep us from focusing on one task at a time.
Outside Magazine this month features an article, “Reboot or Die Trying” by David Roberts who wrote about taking a total year off from technology. This was a guy who tweeted so much that he reached his tweeting limit. I didn’t even knew there was such a thing! He was completely hooked to his computer, phone and devices. He spent his entire day attached to his computer and addicted to the constant update of information. He described it as follows:
All my in-between moments, the interstitial transitions and pauses that fill the cracks of a day, were crowded with pings. My mind was perpetually in the state that researcher and technology writer Linda Stone termed continuous partial attention. I was never completely where I was, never entirely doing what I ws doing. I always had one eye on the virtual world. Every bit of concentration was a potential tweet, every sunset a potential Instagram. . . .What had begun as blogging had become ‘life casting’, a manic, full-time performance of Internet David Roberts.
Roberts began a sabbatical from technology on September 1, 2013 and followed his own rules of no work, work-related e-mail, reading, social media, blogging, tweeting, pinning or sharing anything on the Internet.
Roberts describes how he came to mindfulness through Yoga and walking. It was while walking that ideas began bubbling up. His time with his friends, family and son became focused. He shares his seven steps for managing our relationship with technology. He makes the point, and I have recently learned this when talking with other moms about raising our children with all this new stuff, we have to live in the culture we have and learn to navigate it.
In preparation for re-entry back to the real world of work and technology, here are Robert’s Screen Savior Tips:
1. Take regular breaks from screens during the day (10-15 minutes)
2. Don’t forget to move. Stand up and walk around every 90 minutes and get outside for fresh air, if possible. (Great Advice!)
3. Set aside two longer periods each do to avoid screens entirely and destress.
4. Minimize screen time starting 2 hours before you go to sleep. Read a book, listen to music or hang with family and friends in person.
5. Seek out yoga, mediation or other routines that draw your attention to core physical functions. Research indicated that these can help us gain control of our habits – and stop reaching for our phones every few minutes.
6. Keep your phone out of your hands and off the table during social engagements and family dinners. (YES! THIS IS MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE, HINT TO THE HUSBAND!)
7. If you use fitness gadgets during exercise, pick at least one training session a week to leave them at home. staying plugged in when you’re on a run or ride blunts the restorative effects of being in parks and green spaces. (Love this!)
Check out Outside Magazine, October 2014, p. 87, for the full article.
His experience made me think about how I spend my time and how I am productive. Personally, I can come up with some great ideas while in the shower. While walking outside I can think up wonderful projects, writing topics, even book ideas. Those few times I just sit outside without a laptop, phone or IPad my mind can be still to wander and create. Why don’t I – why don’t WE do that more often? What are we afraid of missing?
How often do you check your phone? How often do you just sit and be? When are you most creative? Have you ever completely unplugged? Just let yourself daydream? How would you do on a year digital detox?
Let Go and Go Have Some Fun!