Over the last three weeks, I found myself taking an unintentional, but much-needed digital detox. Spurred by a week of being sick, which led into a week of vacation, which was followed by a week of house and first-birthday preparations, my detox from the Internet wasn’t planned nor was it 100% unplugged. It was just something that naturally happened as I shifted to in-the-moment needs and stepped away from online activities like blogging, emailing, and overconsumption of Internet information (ahem, aimless scrolling on Instagram and a collection of way too many open browser tabs). It reminded me of a year ago after having a baby — when I was so consumed with my own life that I had to shut off any extra noise around me. It’s a cyclical pattern for most of us I bet.
Don’t get me wrong, I love high-tech devices as much as the next person. I love the amount of information at our fingertips and the ability to connect to others, both those we know in real life and even those we don’t — technology is such a powerful tool in our lives today. But sometimes it feels like we are too connected, you know? When we’re online so much, we easily lose track of offline time and more importantly, ourselves. We keep tabs on world news and take peeks into others’ lives, all informative and entertaining but things that take time away from our own experiences. Taking a step back for a few weeks was surprisingly calming…
What I found in disconnecting was there’s actually joy to be found in missing out (or JOMO as it’s even been coined). Yes, letting go of a need to be “in the know,” a fear of missing out on “something,” a desire to stay plugged into emails and social networks is quite refreshing. The Internet can be exhausting! The world goes on, but we realize we still have a place in it. Things left undone still need doing. Spaces left quiet still have interested audiences. I may have missed some things, didn’t read some things, didn’t see some things, but who cares? The trade off for unplugging even just a little was greater for it gave me mental space, renewed creativity, peace of mind and a better sense of how to manage living in an offline-online generation. And it made me pause and be more grateful for my own little world.
A few things I’m doing to be more mindful about my own technology use and set some boundaries going forward:
- Set a “no media” day at least once a week, if not more.
- Put my phone away when I’m working and in the evenings, instead of having it always within arm’s reach.
- Set defined time limits for checking social media.
- Unsubscribe from unwanted emails.
- Prioritize blogs and websites I enjoy reading; clear out the rest from my news feeds.
- Delete apps I don’t use.
- Limit browser tabs to 5 open at a time!
- Check emails a maximum of twice a day. Set aside a defined time to send responses.
Have you ever taken a technology break or detox? What boundaries do you use to establish a good balance? I’d love to hear!