Today concludes my digital detox. What was supposed to be 7 days without internet turned in to 10, and it was absolutely glorious. Here’s what I learned…
1. I love mono-tasking.
Multi-tasking is over-rated. I experience far more enjoyment and am way more productive when I focus on one thing at a time. We think we’re being more productive when we’re juggling a variety of tasks but we’re really just fragmenting our attention and no one thing is getting our best effort.
2. Checking the weather is my gateway drug to the internet.
It’s so weird but true. I look at the weather forecast multiple times a day. It’s a compulsive behavior that I never thought much about. It was what I had the hardest time not doing for the last 10 days. I asked myself multiple times what the harm would be if I did. That’s when I realized that after I look at the weather I somewhat robotically think of another thing I’d like to check on or look up, then another, then another, then another. Checking the weather seems to kick off a pattern of compulsive behavior and apparently I need to be far more intentional about ANYTHING I pick up my phone for, no matter how harmless it seems.
3. I need to change my relationship with texting.
I remember years ago realizing that I needed to set boundaries around e-mail. It consumed me and distracted me, constantly. That all changed when I turned off all e-mail notifications and decided to only check it twice a day. I’m now in the same place with texting. I am sick of text notifications lighting up my phone and getting my attention when I’m not ready to give it. I believe it to be one of the major contributing factors to my inability to focus on a project or develop a new idea for my business. Text notifications are now turned off on my phone, my messages app has been moved to the third page so that I don’t see it right away, and I plan to only look and respond to texts once a day. If you want to talk, call me.
4. The internet is like food. We need it but it’s not all good for us.
I need to be far more intentional about how and why I use it. If I don’t engage with a purpose, much like eating junk food, I am simply giving away my time with nothing to show for it in return.
5. Connectivity cripples my creativity.
The constant input and noise and comparison completely stifles my ability to think creatively and have original, organic thought. The antithesis to consumption is creation. I want to create more and consume less. This is only possible with healthy doses of disconnection.
6. I do less of the things I love when the internet is always there to distract me .
I love to read. I love to cook. I love to exercise and write and daydream. But often times I’ll get to the end of the day and think that there’s no time for these things. And yet, so much time gets wasted on trivial screen time. The magnetic draw to my phone, weakens my ability to think of all the other more meaningful things I can do with my time. It’s like grabbing the bag of chips over making a salad. The chips don’t require any effort and offer instant gratification but the salad has far more benefits in the long run. I put more time in to reading books these last 10 days than I have in a long time, which feels so much better than knowing what’s going on in my Instagram feed.
At first, a digital detox felt impossible or irresponsible. But now I’m hoping to make it an annual, if not semi-annual ritual. It’s an opportunity to hit the reset button, to step back and really evaluate how I spend my time, as well as to form new healthy habits. I’m currently working on refining those habits and figuring out how to set healthy but realistic boundaries with the online world.