We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.
Everything we do is to better our lives. And like most of us, I can't imagine a world where we don't have the modern conveniences that grace our everyday lives. Can you image a life without electricity? Or the ability to take a meal from refrigerator to oven to table in 30 minutes of time?
Or how about the ability to know what's happening every minute of the day, no matter where in the world you are?
I just finished a book set in World War II. The husband, a journalist, heads up into wild Alaska to get the real story on the fight between the Japanese and America. His plane goes down. Nobody is sure where he is. But his wife never gives up. She sets out on a journey that takes weeks of her time, moving deeper into Alaska in a time of war, looking for any trace of information to shed light on his condition.
Agonizing months went by, with little trace of his existence.
Imagine that same scenario today. We track everything we do by Facebook, Tweets and Instagram. Not only do we know where you are, we know where you're doing it and how you got there in the first place. We can watch decisions being made in real time.
We feel this innate need to share our lives every second of the day. I'm guilty; who can resist with an iPhone in your pocket and access to the Internet 24 hours of the day.
Yet I also know the benefits of stepping away from it all and putting a little balance into my life. I took to heart Arianna Huffington's advice in her book Thrive. I've read numerous books and reports on the benefits of digital detoxing. And now more than ever, I put it into action all the time.
I've learned a lot from detoxing for the past couple of years.
Be More Peaceful
If your phone or tablet isn't buzzing, beeping or vibrating in your hand or pocket every few seconds, you begin breathing deeper and being less on edge. You relax. You slow down.
Checking texts, Facebook, or whatever you app you choose takes your mind away from the now. Try taking a walk without your phone. You look at what surrounds you instead of a screen. You find solutions to the problems you thought you had. You begin brainstorming your next adventures. You even find new friends, as I did when I found a few walking buddies on my normal daily path.
Connect More With Those Around You
If you're not staring at a screen, you have to stare at the person sitting next to you. You might strike up a conversation and learn something new. You might share your feelings. You might laugh. You might improve your relationship.
Step Away From Multitasking
A phone in hand usually means you'll try to do two (or three or four) things at once. Without the phone, you automatically put more of your focus on the task at hand. You find yourself accomplishing more in less time, and in most cases your results are a whole lot better and more satisfying than what you every tried while multitasking.
Create Your Schedule Your Way
If you answer a text or an email or a call at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning, you teach that person you're available all the time. If you only answer in a time that works for your schedule, that person will learn to connect with you on your schedule.
You Crave It
If you digitally detox once, you're going to like the results so much you'll want to do it again. I now close my computer for the night on Friday afternoon and rarely pick up a gadget before Monday morning. I may have my phone in my purse for emergencies, but it rarely comes out on the weekends. It's my time to relax and recharge. It's my time to read a good book and think about new things. It's my time for planning, growing and sharing.
It Makes You More Productive
After a weekend away from technology, my Mondays are more energetic than ever. I have ideas I want to implement, connections that need to be made, and things I want to do. I compartmentalize things, and have bursts of productivity that have increased my work levels tenfold.
Have you tried a digital detox? What was the biggest benefit for you?