I recently finished a complete 7-day digital detox. No phone, computer, laptop, tablet, TV. NOTHING! While most people say it’s just the younger generations that need to detox, after this intense experience, I would say ALL generations could unplug (pun intended) and have a shut down.
I sure learned a lot of things, but here would be my top 5.
Habits can be broken: For the first two days, I would reach in my pocket to grab my phone. Of course, there was the immediate panic of, “where did I put my phone” – but then quickly remembered, “Oh yeah. Digital Detox.” By the end of day two, I never reached for my phone.
I hadn’t realized how often I just grab my phone to check it with no specific agenda in mind which only forces myself to work on something that can likely wait a little longer.
More productive than you think: Going into the detox, I did wonder what I would do. I assumed the last thing I would be calling myself is “productive.” However, without all my gadgets, a couple of things happened. For one, the world just seemed to slow down a little. Like a huge exhale. But then, I found my ability to focus was incredible. Granted, ideas or thoughts were written down with an actual pen/paper, but there is no denying they were clearer.
I hadn’t realized that I always thought I was being productive by jamming on my phone. However this approach might be a true distraction from being even more intensely productive.
Nature really is all around us: I’m sure this one might get a few eye rolls, but when your head is not looking down at a screen, you really do pay more attention to the world around you. Throw in the fact that you are now less distracted, and you actually do notice the simpler things. From the colors of trees to the feel of the wind to the intensity of smells, the digital detox put nature front and center.
I hadn’t realized just how much my senses could be awoken.
Reboot vs Redesign: When I got closer to the detox coming to an end, I had to come to terms that as much of a needed break it had been, the reality is that my life requires me to be on my devices. Whether it’s to schedule a meeting, take a call, text my family or play a game, I was not about to become the Unabomber. The goal of the digital detox wasn’t to redesign all the ways I use technology. Sure I might check my phone less or wait to return an email, but if I don’t, it’s not as though the detox failed me.
I hadn’t realized just how much my brain needed a real break.
No one is that important: Probably the best lesson of all was that as much as I fretted over all the things that I would miss checking in on or responding to while being off the grid, it didn’t take me long to get back at it and on top of it. It definitely helps to put an out of office message on or ask someone to keep an eye on something, but the reality is that people understand that lives are busy and that sometimes things take just a little more time.
I hadn’t realized how many extreme deadlines are put on me by no one else but myself.