“The average person [in 1999] received more information on a daily basis, than the average person received in a lifetime in 1900.”
Dr Donald Wetmore — Time Management Expert
In 2013, we are certainly receiving an average amount of information – per day – far greater than anything our ancestors received in a lifetime.
Isn’t that just… nuts?
Is it little wonder we feel stressed? Strained? Overwhelmed?
What we need is more time to ourselves. More time to engage – really engage – with life. More time to just be.
We need to unplug.
Ritually unplugging is so important in living a simpler life, which is why it’s part of the A-Z of Simple Living series.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.
Our constantly connected world has so many advantages. We can communicate across vast distances, virtually experience incredible places, learn from masters and discover anything imaginable with a few clicks of a mouse button or swipe of a finger.
But we are also constantly connected. We carry our smartphones in our pockets, using them as cameras, calendars, notebooks and alarm clocks. We feel naked without at least one source of connection – be it an iPad, a smartphone, a laptop or all three.
We forget how to simply be. How to immerse ourselves in whatever is in front of us. How to truly engage in face-to-face conversation, personal connections and true down-time. And we are burning out. We are addicted to this digital connection. We are afraid that if we unplug we will miss out on something.
There is a price to pay for this constant level of connection and it is steep unless we learn to offset it with periods of disconnection.
The Power of the Off Switch
Disconnection from the online world allows us to reconnect or fully connect with the physical world in front of us. Fully connect with our kids, our partner, our family, our friends, our work, our environment, our imagination.
Unplugging sounds like such a simple idea. And it really is.
Only once you start to think about how you spend your down time it becomes apparent that while it is simple, it may not be easy.
Think about it:
How do you like to unwind?
A glass of wine at the end of the day? Reading a book? Flicking through a magazine? Spending time in the garden? Wonderful.
What about reading blogs? Or ebooks? Watching TV while you enjoy that glass of wine? Flicking through a digital version of your magazine? Not to mention Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest?
The second list may be ways you like to relax, but you are still connected. The virtual world is still there, pulling you in 32 opposing directions, tempting you to learn more, see more, know more.
Powering Down – Daily
This involves taking time every day and unplugging from the constantly connected world.
It means unplugging from your:
Switch them all off and do something in the physical world.
You could try:
- Sitting quietly
- Playing with your kids
- Talking with your partner or spouse
- Simple stretching exercises
- Sipping a coffee outside, watching the sky, hearing the birds.
The important thing is that you connect with the real world, or allow your mind to access a different virtual one – the world of your imagination.
If You’re Having Trouble Unplugging…
If it’s proving difficult to find time for this ritual, you could try the following:
- Try unplugging on the bus or train on your way to and from work
- Get up earlier and enjoy the early morning quiet without plugging in to your computer or phone – the emails can wait fifteen minutes
- Leave for the gym 15 minutes earlier and find a quiet spot to sit
- Watch one less television show at night. Or DVR it and come back to it later
- Make a real effort to cut back on social media – I’m looking at you, Facebook and Twitter. They eat up so much of our time. Cut it in half and use that time to be fully in the offline world. How many Twitter updates do you really need to scroll through anyway?
However you choose to do it, make it a priority to get down time each and every day.
Do you have daily disconnected time? Do you feel more calm or more anxious? More engaged or more disconnected? More content or more dissatisfied? I know which I feel, but I want to hear from you…