Why Not . . . Unplug?
Wednesday March 7, 2012

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As a blogger, it may sound odd that I am offering up the idea of unplugging from technology, but even someone like me who is constantly looking at a computer screen, checking my smart phone for email and reading newspaper articles on my iPad knows that I function best when I put it down every once in awhile.

The benefits of our hyper-connected society are numerous, and I certainly am not complaining as it allows us all the option of working from home or wherever we prefer to be, remain in contact no matter where our lives may take us and have access to endless amounts of information with the simple touch of a button. However, I would like to suggest to you today to find time weekly or at least monthly to unplug. Carve out time to distance yourself from technology and remind yourself that somehow we did survive not too long ago with landline phones and snail mail to communicate.

While I have a feeling some of you are already on board with this suggestion, more of you may agree, but believe it isn’t possible. Let me share with you the benefits, some obvious and some not so obvious, that I’d like you to consider before you dismiss the idea altogether.

1. An opportunity to recharge. We are not machines, therefore, we cannot function like machines. Our minds, our eyes, our bodies need to take a break.  Just as our bodies need sleep every night to rejuvenate, so too do our minds.

2. High quality work vs. mediocre output. Upon turning off your many devices and leaving them out of your reach, your creativity will start to flow, you will give yourself an opportunity to be in different situations where technology would be a hindrance or unhelpful and ideas will start to percolate, fabulous discussions will begin to occur and you will more likely than not be filled with fantastic ideas to take back to you work.  By limiting how long you are connected, you force yourself to be productive and not waste time, and in your down time away from technology, you are free to let your mind wander.

3. Reduction in anxiety. If you are clear to those you work with and for that you will not be available 24-hours a day and you stick to your guns, you will be amazed how eventually they will learn to only contact you if they want an immediate response during your desired hours. As long as you communicate clearly and follow through, you will eliminate the anxiety you may feel when you choose to power off, knowing that they know you will return at a specific time.

4. Peace and quiet. The balance that I so often speak about is hard to attain when your devices are constantly “dinging”, “singing”, or “ringing”. Perhaps the better solution is to turn off your alerts and only check your email and calendars once or twice a day, but regardless, get away from the sound and the device all together and let your mind relax in a tranquil environment.

5. Strengthen your focus. While convenient, our high-tech world has shortened our attention span which ultimately reduces opportunities for quality experiences.  If we don’t allow our minds time to think analytically and digest all that we are observing one experience at at time, we are robbing ourselves of the ability to reach our full potential.

6. Strengthen relationships. I mentioned last week in the newsletter that for my birthday we rendezvoused out of town to a resort in the country leaving behind our laptops and knowingly staying in a room without television.  It was fabulous! Time was forgotten about and long bouts of reading and conversing occurred. Needless to say, we focused on what was important and chose to control the technology that we appreciate instead of letting it control us.

Now initially, you may have tech-withdrawals. This is normal and to be expected, but what I believe you will find is that the more you unplug and the longer the time is that you remain unplugged you will actually come to covet your time, space and privacy.  In fact, an errant cell phone ring may feel very annoying. This is good.  This is very good.

Choose to use technology to maintain relationships, not build them, and instead choose to build relationship with face to face communication or experiences shared together. Understand that virtual isn’t reality, but it can aid the reality that you wish to create. Once you learn what technology can do for you, make sure that it doesn’t have control over you. The key is to be its master and not the other way around.

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