How to turn off without missing a beat
There is no doubt about it, my life is exponentially better because I can order a car, Ethiopian food or even a plumber from my phone. But once in a while I miss the old days, when phones were not such an appendage; they were something you would leave at home and hope your crush would call while you were out.
In my previous life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon, going weeks without internet access was a reality. And if the electricity was out (which happened frequently in rainy season) it meant that I would shift to a sleep schedule that meant I was asleep a couple of hours after sunset and awake around the time of the call to prayer. During this time I would read giant books, take long walks into the hills and spend time with my neighbors. Most importantly, I was present. My life centered around my community, ideas were born, there wasn’t a whole lot of FOMO because there wasn’t a whole lot of Facebook. This time in my life was filled with a lot of involuntary digital detox which I’ve brought with me to my new life in New York.
How do you know if you should impose your own digital detox?
Symptoms can vary but these tend to be pretty consistent indicators for me: I can feel it coming when the laptop sleeps next to me, when I have trouble sleeping at night, or if I’ve had dreams about being on Facebook—I don’t want to be that person!
What does a digital detox look like?
This obviously varies but a full detox would include putting your phone in a drawer with the laptop and the remote to your TV. No screentime. For somebody with friends scattered across the globe this means no WhatsApp or Skype sessions. Set up some autoresponders, buy some books in advance. For people with children this might take some planning with your spouse to manage phone calls from activities and parents etc.
For those with circumstances that simply do not allow this, trying disconnecting from social media or your work email for a few days to reduce stress. There are also plugins you can download (my favorite is called StayFocusd) to block websites for days or specific time increments.
How long should it be?
Start with a weekend off. Building up to a week or ten days would be ideal.
What if I get bored?!
- Better sleep
- Deeper conversations
- Finishing that book that’s been on your nightstand for weeks
- Increased creativity
Even taking a long run in Central Park and dozing on a blanket in the sun with a magazine and taking the time to just let everything drift away can make the blues dry up. In a hyperconnected take the time to be fully present even if it means doing nothing.
By: Elise Omaits