Hope you’re off to a great start to the week. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my habits. Specifically, my digital habits or screen-time. It’s been a love/hate relationship for me recently. I’m a Paralegal by profession and I work at a law firm downtown. So, my day already consists of sitting in front of a computer for eight hours. Then, there’s the smartphone that I carry with me, factor in that I’ve always been a gamer, and while we’re at it, we may as well throw this laptop that I’m using in the mix. That quickly puts me at four devices. By the look of things, my screen-time seems to be already pushing some sort of red zone.
Look, I understand that technology is a necessary evil, I get it, and this entry is not meant to debate the good and the bad. Everybody’s different, and I bet each one of you right now can riddle off your own set of pros and cons when it comes to the internet. This is just something I’ve personally noticed about myself. It’s made me purposely pull back a bit and take a much closer look at how often I’m actually plugged in. This all started a few Mondays ago when I had a moment of digital overload.
I run a lot, I work out just as much, and of course, there’s the biking. When I do those all those things, I’m connected. Realizing just how much, well, that came to me in the form of an inconvenience. Three Mondays ago, it was gorgeous outside, and the evening was looking just as beautiful. So, right there on the spot, I decided that as soon as I got home, I would jump on the bike and head out. As I pulled into the driveway, I was already starting to do inventory of where I would find all my gear. It was a matter of slowly walking back where I had left it all before. I’m a very habitual person when it comes to my specific spots for leaving things around the house. First, it was my wireless headphones. They need to be fully charged and ready to go. I have a Google watch, same drill with the charging. My phone, dido. Oh, and if I intend to keep track of where I go and for how long, it needs to be connected to my data plan. My phone does double as my music player and camera. Although, I do at times take along my GoPro. Finally, there’s my ATM card, in case I need it or want to stop for a snack, but again, technology. So, I guess the phone triples as a wallet. Anyone starting to see where I am going with this? It’s official people, I’ve become a cyborg. I’ve deemed all these gadgets necessary in order for me to go out in the world to enjoy myself. For fresh air. For fun. Really Ash…really?
What lead to the electronic breakdown? Wait for it! It was because of the fact that one of my much needed devices, being my watch, had zero battery left. My life you would have thought at the time was over. I must have forgotten to plug them in the last time around. Doh! Yeah, that one was on me. So, I say with a great amount of embarrassment, I got upset. No, more like mad. Like a kid who receives an alarm clock on their birthday, I was pretty sour and the end result was me sulking and wanting to bail on the bike ride all together. Though, it was also at that very moment that I realized I had allowed myself to be spoiled by convenience and modern technology. I immediately asked myself. What in the world did I ever do before all of these things existed? Oh right, still do it. And…that’s exactly what I did.
Yup, right then and there, I went offline. I came to my senses, took off all the gadgets and doodads and left the house on the bike. And, you know what? It was probably one of best rides of the year so far. It was delightful. No wires, no straps, no batteries, no bags, and no need to stop for anything. It was just me and the open trails with the sounds of nature and the environment surrounding me. It was quite refreshing actually. It was also what lead me to discover that something needed to change with me. Yes, these things will still exist in my life and I’d be lying if I said anything to deny that. But, how I use these things would change. It was time for me to counter my own battle with technological dependency with a digital detox.
What I decided to do was not just be bitter about it all, revolt, and throw everything down cold-turkey. No, I figured I would start by taking baby-steps. Begin to take back my life and really give some serious thought to how I once used to survive without all these luxuries. I mean, I was actually getting anxieties over what I should do next when it came to my quality time. Moving from one mindless form of entertainment to the next. Sometimes unconsciously. That had to stop. At least what had to stop was the fact that my downtime was starting to consist me jumping from one screen to the next. All of which required an internet connection. And, I have to say, with just a few weeks removed from my digital meltdown, I have found and I have adapted a more balanced routine. It’s not perfect, it’s not something that I follow religiously, but it’s made me aware. It’s made me more aware of all my digital habits as a whole, and in only a short period of time, those habits have started to curve. That said, I thought I would share some of what I’ve been doing with you just in case you wanted to implement them into your own daily lives.
- At least once a week I venture out for a run, walk or ride with nothing on me. Just me and my thoughts and well, clothes of course;
- I take walks on my lunch hour at work and never just sit in the lunchroom or anywhere really to aimlessly look at my phone;
- When I get home from work, there’s a set time in the evening where I turn off my phone and forget about it entirely;
- When I want to talk to someone, get this…I actually call the person;
- I have turned off many nuisance notifications that lead me to impulse;
- When I feel exhausted and need time to recharge or decompress, I read a book. Oh, and a real book and not an eBook; and
- Lastly, when it comes to writing, I simply just do that, I write. I turn off the Wi-Fi to only have access to my word processor. It helps me avoid going into internet wormholes of nothingness.
There we have it. A modest attempt indeed, but I feel this is a good start to what I have deemed as my own personal digital detox. What do you think? Let me ask this? How do you feel about your own screen-time? How do you feel about being plugged in? Do you find yourself subconsciously swiping and scrolling like it’s a nervous tick just to stay in the know? How do you keep your electronic footprints in check, are you disciplined at all? Please, let me know in the comments, and if you feel like a digital detox yourself, go ahead and share your trial and tribulations. I would love to hear them and I’m sure others here would too. Just ping-back to this post if you like.
Anyway folks, Thanks for reading and I appreciate you as always. This was a long read for sure, so I appreciate your time. Now, if you don’t mind, I am on my way out the door for a run…by myself and completely unplugged just like the good old days. Practice what you preach Ash, practice what you preach.