I love technology and the ability to stay connected and share ideas with others. What
frustrates me is that sometimes I find myself obsessing and even losing track of time as I’m staring at a device almost oblivious to the world around me.
It took me several days enjoying the silence of a sunny beach this summer to lead me back to wondering why we wait until we have a physical break in our schedule to take some time away to reflect and focus on reprioritizing our life. There are countless stories of successful CEOs of major corporations who not only find the time but are preaching the benefits of intentional unplugging, so why is it many educators feel we must wait for a major event to shut down and recharge?
We don’t all have unlimited travel accounts so I say why not create a mini digital detox opportunity each week! Here are some ideas to get started:
Disconnect Professional Emails
Some of my friends have disconnected their professional email from their phones. I have not been able to take this plunge as I rely on my phone being in my hands regardless of the building I’m working as a means to stay connected without always relying on having laptop access. Those who have taken their email from their phones have found they no longer feel the need to check their email right before bed or as they wake up in the morning. I am guilty of being a compulsive email checker and am working on it, but not ready to commit to deleting this connection just yet. Maybe soon?
At some point you need to ask yourself if you really need to be reached 24/7. There is no harm in shutting off notifications on your applications. I had to do this with Voxer as I was continually pinged and not only was it a detriment to my device battery life, but it also kept me constantly wondering what I was missing. The trick is to develop a workflow to check it regularly… on YOUR time. If you aren’t ready for this commitment, try putting your phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode for a period of time each day and quiet the pings.
One Day a Week Off
Choose one day a for your digital detox. Several years ago I attended a session with a very active online teacher and her words still are in my head. She turns off her devices all day Saturday and turns them back on Sunday to answer any lingering student questions for the week. Digital Detoxing even one day a week allows you to relax and take back your life.
There is no shortage of research out there that says multi-tasking is NOT productive. You can waste a serious amount of time jumping between accounts. Find a time to sit down and focus on managing your social media and email accounts. Set a timer and stick to it! Almost every business book I have read lately has talked about how successful people get more sleep and reduce the urge to multi-task.
Embrace Voice Mail
I’ve been thinking about what I want my own kids (10 and 12) to remember about their childhood and realize I have a critical responsibility to model the importance of balancing face-to-face and screen time. We maintain a no cell phone at the table rule, which is shockingly easier said than done. We live by the rule if you call once, you go to voice mail but if you call back 2-3 times back-to-back, something must require immediate attention. We learned this rule early on as my husband often travels for work and we needed a 911 to signal regardless of the timezone or activity, this is a family emergency.
This Year I Will (TYIW)
My goal for this coming year is to reduce the amount of time I spend talking on the phone when my kids are in the car. This is a time where the urge to continue productivity is offset by missing the opportunity to build relationships and talk with my kids. This is the fundamental point of the digital detox, to keep the important aspects of our lives at the forefront and let some of the noise just fade away.
What is your TYIW commitment and tips to living a balanced life?