Digital detox: Fast ways to unplug your addiction to technology
Leave it to a technology magazine to have a whole section on its website devoted to getting rid of technology.
Fast Company's "unplug" page on its website explores in depth the various reasons, tactics, triumphs and failures of attempts at digital detoxification.
Drake Baer says many successful people talk about how they begin their day in "unplugged space." They get up early and keep their phones on "do-not-disturb time."
Baer has another story saying people need to unplug every 90 minutes. "We're actually organisms, which move cyclically. And to do our most creative, productive work, we need to step to that rhythm," he writes.
That cycle is about 90 minutes, a "basic rest-activity cycle": 90 minutes work, 20 minutes unplugged rest.
Baer also wants people to unplug their weekend. "Not separating your weekend from your week can unravel your relationships, stymie your stress recovery and ultimately ruin your productivity, research suggests," he writes.
But these articles are not the meat-and-potatoes of unplugging. Jessica Hullinger describes the feeling that an unplug is needed: "You're feeling overwhelmed by your gadgets — connected to your email list but not to your personal life. It's time to take a break."
Fast Company has a printable guide on how to unplug.
Hullinger reported on how author and comedian Baratunde Thurston went 25 days without digital distractions. Thurston told Fast Company he felt "less stressed about not knowing new things; I felt that I still existed despite not having shared documentary evidence of said existence on the Internet. I was reading long books, engaging in meaningful conversations, and allowing my mind to wander and make passive connections I had previously short-circuited with social queries, responses, interruptions and steady documenting and sharing of unripened experiences."
Some of the things unpluggers discovered, according to Hullinger, were:
- We are addicted to information
- We share too much
- We are addicted to ourselves
- We need more downtime
Hullinger says to come back, (especially to her employer's magazine, Fast Company, of course) but when you come back, "cut the digital fat."
For example, turn off notifications from Facebook, Twitter and email on your phone. Instead, choose when you want to check your messages.
Set boundaries, such as how long you can surf the Internet. Make lists of activities to avoid, and make lists of non-digital things you want to do.
As Thurston says, "Unoccupied moments are beautiful, so I have taken to scheduling them."
One Millennial, Miles Korhman, wrote on Fast Company about his reluctance about even getting plugged in:
"We grew up in a world of boredom. As children, we couldn't stare at an iPad for hours of entertainment, but instead used our own imaginations as an antidote. If we wanted something, we did it ourselves, not with the computer. We made plans with friends that we had to keep, sometimes weeks down the line, where we would engage in real social interaction. There was no texting, Facebook and certainly no tweeting. I'll realize that I've spent all day at work staring at a screen, only to rush home and to do the exact same thing."
Faisal Hoque describes unplugging as "to give up craving, to live mindfully, to move toward nirvana (Sanskrit for 'complete liberation')."
But what is unplugging a liberation from?
As Commenter Tim McMahon shared on Thurstson's unplugging experience, "Your lengthy post about the benefits of 'unplugging' was just too much to take. To me, unplugging means unplugging from that nagging need to prove you are relevant."
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