Do you need a digital detox? Switching off all devices, laptops, computers, trackers and internal networks can be mind-boggling as a thought. Our world today is built on connectivity, and to voluntarily unplug goes against the grain. Those that have tried a digital detox reveal how ‘i-ddiction’ is very real, and how switching off makes you see what you’re missing out on. The off-line time needed is short, yet gives you an increase in productivity at work, and rediscovery of ‘life’. Are you constantly checking your messages, social media updates and track every move you make? Does a shaky WiFi connection make your day hell? Read on to understand what digital addiction is. Take the test to see how to become mindfully mobile. A digital detox will allow you to really reconnect again with yourself, those who matter, and mindfully appreciate what you have of real value.
Digital Detox: The World Out There
I am looking for a non-WiFi connected hotel for my next vacation. A place where you can walk, talk, exercise, eat nutritious and tasty food in the comfort of a non-pinging serene atmosphere. Somewhere far enough to avoid hoards of package tourists with their unwanted personal information vocally splattered in elevators, restaurants and fitness centres. I don’t need any comments about the speed of the internet. I want to talk to my husband, and not see his finally relaxed face turn back into wrinkle mania because of a message that just came in. I don’t want to hear from relatives (unless there is a real emergency), and I am certainly not interested in what they ate for dinner courtesy of Facebook. I want to connect with the real world around me, listen to a wind chime in a slow breeze, and just exist for a while. Where can we find such a place?
Digital tools are great. They help us to stay in touch with loved ones, and connect across borders and tribes. Social media inspire, motivate, agitate and excite us. We can find any information we want at the touch of our fingertips, and we don’t ever have to handle real paper. A book, a magazine or the news – all is on-line. We shop, meet and greet people – known and un-known – all day long.
Going digital is the way forward, right? However, these devices have become more than the tools they were intended to be. Digital mania sets in as we have no boundaries with our technology. Have these well-intended gadgets become the scourge of this century?
We’re addicted to getting out of the moment. You’re distracting yourself from where you are. – N.Collier, thefix.com
Many confess to being ‘there’ and never ‘here’. You miss out on moments, conversations and real connections. You don’t look, sense or smell. You tap on your digital device and find it there. Not here. Not in this moment. Not with the person in front of you…..
Digital Detox: What Is It?
A digital detox is the active choice to switch off all devices (mobile phones, lap tops, computers, trackers etc). You do this to reconnect with what really matters. Unplugging will highlight how addicted you are as stress levels push through the roof.
Information overload is when you get more information than you are able to process to make any sense of if. This impacts your decision-making ability, which can lead to wrong ones. Have you ever felt overloaded by what your screen throws at you?
We flick though sites, social media and emails as if our lives depended on it, while not realising that real life is passing us by. Many have no boundaries with their technology. We watch TV, listen to the radio, and check updates and call this ‘relaxing’. Do you ever switch off?
At work we multi-task, project manage, and solve issues at same time as we deal with hundreds of emails. We attend meetings, and check our social media while ‘listening’. The interaction continues through the commute, dinner and evening. 9 – 5 is a forgotten era, and responding at all hours is considered the sign of a good employee. How productive are we? Read: Your Late-Night Emails Are Hurting Your Team – Harvard Business Review
At a time when you are supposed to unwind – family dinner, vacation, evening with friends, or just me-time – your sense of zen can get destroyed by a ping in seconds. A message, status update, or email sends your heart racing. If you don’t react immediately your world will fall apart. The problem is that many of those we interact with are wired the same way, and expect instant attention. Can we avoid it?
Research into digital addiction shows that stress is acute for the worst cases, and fascinatingly the sufferers can be professional high flyers, or stay-at-home Facebook fans.
Most never turn their devices off, and sleep with the mobile next to them. Anxiety sets in if the person enters a non-WiFi zone or the phone network goes down. Leaving home without the device is cause for divorce, threat of bodily harm or worse. At the very least you will confess to rating a luxury hotel down if the WiFi isn’t up to par. What about you?
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10 Reasons To Digitally Detox
Do you recognise two or more of the bullet points below? Rate yourself from 1 – 10 and see if the score is higher than 50.
- Socially Over There: You go for a date, dinner with friends or family event and post pictures of the food, take selfies, and share it all. You switch in and out of the conversation to check for updates, and emails. You say you’re having a great time on-line – but are you actually here or out there?
- Work, Work, Work: Nothing is more important than messages from work. You interrupt precious together-time to communicate with work. It doesn’t matter if it is 2 a.m, or 5 p.m. — you work, work and work. How productive are you, and are you jeopardising your relationships?
You wake up and say hello to your handheld, and constantly check every ping, beep or vibration until you go to sleep. You have your smart phone strapped to your hand, and cannot imagine leaving it aside even for a minute. Are you i-ddicted?
- Instant Gratification: You feel sad if your updates don’t get ‘liked’, and delirious if you see comments on your social media. You act like a bitch on heat if no-one acknowledges your posts, which then leads to a classic case of narcissism. Me, myself and I is more important than who you’re with.
- Sound of Silence: You cannot live without man-made sound. You have the radio, TV and computer on and switch from one device to another. You multi-task without finishing anything, and cannot concentrate. A walk in the woods is completely alien, as the forest is ‘silent’. You have lost your connection with the ‘real’ world.
- Touch Down: If you’re on a flight you feel jittery, and a non-WiFi zone makes you most uncomfortable. The feeling of being our of touch makes you totally unsettled. Your massive sense of relief when you touch down and see your network blink is an indication of digital stress.
- Travel Quirks: You visit friends, and ask for access to their home network before handing over the flowers you brought. You check in to a hotel and ask for the WiFi code as a response to welcoming words. Nothing will stop you from being on-line, and common courtesy goes out the window where connection is concerned.
- Concentration: You cannot concentrate. You lack focus and seem to flip from one thing to the other. You don’t see the connection between the endless flicking between social media pages, messages, news headlines and weather and your inability to make decisions, follow-through or have a non-digital conversation. Information overload is the source and it has become a sensory stopper.
- The New Normal: You think it’s absolutely normal to have a family dinner when no-one talks; That christmas greetings come digitally; That conversations stop in favour of a selfie for Facebook; That you say more than you mean to on-line while realising that you haven’t talked to your kids all day long……
- Anger issues: You hit the roof, and lose your calm if the network goes down. You threaten to throw the computer out the window. You rant and rave and go on until your partner’s patience, smile and composure disappears. All logic and constructive thinking goes away in favour of a WiFi induced tantrum worthy of a five-year old.
Digital Detox: 5 Ways to Do It
Now that you have your score you can consider a digital detox. This does not have to mean a total shut-down for days. Get inspired and choose what works for you.
- The 24 Hour Shut-Down: Plan an excursion, family dinner or event to enjoy a day together with close ones without devices. Switch off all notifications, and social media. Keep the emails coming in but, VIP mark names that matter (Mom, Dad, Partner, Boss etc) and challenge yourself to only look once during a 24 hour cycle. Read this for inspiration: Digital Detox – Frances Booth, Forbes.com
- The 72 Hour Digital Distraction Detox: Too many emails, site notifications and Facebook pings distract us from being productive. Commit to looking at your social media once a day for 1/2 hour, and unsubscribe to all those internet sites that keep sending you stuff you end up deleting anyway. Plan this by cleaning up your email accounts, setting up pings only from those that matter, and then set a 72 hour detox in motion. Read: How To Do a Digital Detox The Right Way – Jessica Butcher, Entrepreneur.com
- The Digitally Broadcasted Approach: Challenge your friends to a digital detox. Tell the world that you’re going off-line for a period of time. Make this coincide with a long weekend, R & R or holiday in order to safely put your out-of-office message on. Get yourself ready by making meal times off-limits for all devices, and a mandatory shut-off time at night. On D-Day get up, have fun and enjoy the liberty of all that time you thought you didn’t have. Read: The Realistic Digital Detox – Stephanie Vozza, Entrepreneur.com
- The Guided Digital Detox: Severe cases of burn-out, stress and net addicts can sign up for digital detox camps and retreats. You leave all your devices behind and join a group of equal minded adults for a time of fun, reconnection and guided digital detox. Read: Turn Off, Shut Down, Log Out – Rob Walker, The Guardian
Digital Detox or Mindfully Mobile?
The reality is of course that we cannot totally disconnect from digitals. The challenge is to find a way to responsibly limit your digital influences. The aim to become mindfully mobile.
A digital detox will reveal the level of your real connectivity needs. Maybe you will feel liberated by coming face-to-face with what stresses you out the most? This then allows you to take practical steps — even with the help of devices and apps — towards mobile mindfulness.
You reframe your approach to your electronic gadgets, and use them as the tools they were intended to be. Check what it is your biggest stressor: Network connectivity, social media, email notifications and fix it. Get apps and wearables to help you monitor your time on-line, set limits and notifications when a special person needs to contact you.
6 Tips For The Mindfully Mobile
- Check out your time on-line and set limits with the app RescueTime.
- Set device free times for all meals ( Tip: get a basket for all smartphones and have fun at your guests absolute horror! )
- Limit your social media flipping to given times of the day, and make me and we-time precious again.
- Alternatively, invest in a wearable or smart connected jewellery. The Ringly is a really stylish ring that allows you to have your phone tucked away, yet still be able to get important messages.
- If a slow network, or iffy WiFi is the issue get a WiFi extender for home, or Mobile WiFi Wireless Router for work or travel away from home.
- One way to get away and zoom out from what clouds up your day is an app called Buddhify, which gives you over 11 hours of custom meditations for 15 different parts of your day including traveling, being online, taking a work break and going to sleep — buddhify will help you de-stress, sleep better and bring more awareness and compassion to all parts of your life.
Digital Detox: A Promise that Delivers
A digital detox is to devote time to find yourself again. To identify why electronic devices have become stressors rather than helpers. We see how to become a bit more realistic when it comes to the tools that our gadgets are supposed to be. By unplugging for a limited time, we reconnect and enhance the ways we can set up our future connectivity.
The digital detox experience gives you time to think through how to deal with your gadgets from now on. Turning off notifications, device free meals, off-limits for all handhelds during family time and so on. You will feel the benefit of the time off-line by seeing, hearing and connecting with the very simple things you forgot. A bird song, a child telling you a story, a moment of silence — and togetherness in that silence. Digital detox, anyone?
Recommended and Related:
- The Neurological Basis for Digital Addiction – The Fix
- Digital Natives and Information Overload – Net Addiction
- Work Emails and Productivity – Harvard Business Review
- Turn Off, Shut Down, Log Out – Rob Walker, The Guardian
- How To Cure Tech Addiction and Stay in Touch – Emma Sexton, The Guardian
Are You Digitally Stressed? COMMENTS, please 🙂
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