Back in the day ‘unplugged’ was a term used exclusively by musicians to refer to performing without electrical instruments. Now? Well, times have certainly changed! Among its many references now ‘unplugged’ frequently refers to taking a break from our technology and those instruments, which we find ourselves checking constantly, not making lovely music with. If the idea of turning off your phone, powering down your computer and being out of range of a wi-fi connection is leaving you nervous read on!
As you have seen from the piece on our attention span while all this new technology and social media has certainly brought good to our lives it has not necessarily been without a cost. Reading longer articles and books is happening less frequently, we’re no longer as used to discussing a long news piece we heard because we assume the 30 second blurb we heard is the entire story and we’ve gained what? The ability to know instantly when a celebrity has filed for divorce? Give me the thoughtful news story or long book any day!
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty here on how to do this and still be Thriving, engaged and focused on your goals. First off we’re not talking about unplugging all the time or that we have to pitch our electronics in the trash. We’re talking about being mindful and thoughtful about how, when and why we’re using them.
In an ideal world you’ll have the ability to take long breaks from your cell phone and e-mail so let’s stay in that world for a moment and really look at it. This would mean if you had to be reached someone would have to call the fantastic bed and breakfast you’re staying at to leave a message or reach you on a landline at your shore cabin. In turn this means that any interruption would be completely planned or within your control; landlines for phones only ring to tell you someone’s on the other end, they don’t chirp to tell you a headline has been posted or you have a new text message. Such a time away will afford you the luxury of reading a book without being disturbed or spending quality time kneading the bread you’re making for dinner.
Aren’t up for a weekend at a B&B or feel that you need to stay in touch because you’ve got kids and obligations? Fair enough. Here are some additional suggestions you might find helpful:
Declutter. Clutter has the effect of distracting us and making it appear as if checking our e-mail yet again is just a part of that clutter.
Turn your cell phone either all the way off or move it into ‘airplane’ mode so you can listen to your music and perhaps check the time but not get text message alerts, new e-mail alerts or calls.
Set up designated times to check your e-mail so you have blocks of time to focus on the task at hand without feeling obligated to “just quickly” shoot a reply back to someone.
Turn your monitor off at your desk if you are trying to focus on a written document or problem. If possible move to another location so you can remind your brain you are working, not focusing on the monitor.
Have confidence that if there’s a real, honest to goodness crisis where you’re needed or someone has to get in touch with you you’ll know about it. The age-old adage of “bad news travels fast” is still accurate.
I suspect you’ll find that in unplugging, even if for only a few hours, enough benefits to keep going back to it. Daydreaming, having quiet to focus on a thought all the way through, reading a book and getting lost in it are only a few comments I’ve heard from Thrivers who have managed to disconnect for a bit. What will your benefits be? Happy unplugging!